Posted by Helen on June 12, 1998 at 15:37:14:
In response to Austen & Romanticism, written by Linden on June 06, 1998 at 03:09:46
] Romanticism has varied and complex aspects, of which three are represented in this quotation:
] • a philosophical view of nature and identity, which puts very high value on the self, on the emotions, and on individual behaviour without reference to convention;
] • a literary movement of the late 18th and early 19th century, of which Jane Austen was part, together with other writers such as Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Goethe, Walter Scott and the Shelleys;
] • an attitude to love (Elizabeth Bennet is asserting her right to marry the man of her choice), which nowadays is commodified in Mills and Boon novels.
] However, these are not the only aspects. We talk of the romance of steamships, rail, or scenery; there are the medieval romances such as the legends surrounding King Arthur; and historical events may be romanticised in films such as "Braveheart" and "Gone with the Wind".
Speaking as a fellow university teacher, I would say that you will have to deal with students who already think that anything called 'romantic' or a 'romance' is about love. It seems to me that you really need to stress that 'romantic' literature, especially in England, is not really about love at all, while the 'romance' is a completely different thing (the story of how we got from the genre of 'romance' to the concept of 'romanticism' and how the two were what I can only call bastardized (in this context, not a vulgar word, I promise) into the modern notion of the 'romantic' is a very very complex one - isn't there some good book out there that will explain the difference?
Certainly love played an important part in the lives of the romantic poets - but their works were an entirely different story - even Keats has lots of poems which are about something else. The difficulty is that like all movements, the C19th romantic one consisted of
1. People who were basically friends who shared a few ideas about poetry, philosophy, life, and were intensely involved for a time, even though their paths later diverged (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Hazlitt)
2. People who got lumped in with them:
a) their predecessors, who had some characteristics in common (Scott)
b) other people who just happened to be around at the time (Byron)
c) people who were influenced by them - the next generation (Shelley, Keats)
d) people who picked up something of the zeitgeist but were in no way part of that particular movement (This is where I would put JA in).
Actually, if you don't think trendy comparisons with popular culture are too much to be despised, I would compare it with the rock scene of your choice - British music in the 60s, grunge, rap... it may sound tacky, but people will understand exactly what you're talking about. It seems to me that the danger of putting JA in there with the romantics is that she's such an untypical one that she will get swamped by the more obvious candidates. This is not to say that she doesn't contain elements of romantic culture - after all, Anne Wentworth does bond with Captain Benwick over the Lake Poets - but Anne's prescription that you should also read some improving prose with your romantics seems to sum up her attitude...
Helen, thankful that it's not her period of literature and she will hopefully never have to explain how we got from Kant to Byron ;-)
- By way of Categorical Impurities? Just guessing (:-D gkb 12:19:55 6/16/98 (0)
- Thanks and thoughts Linden 00:34:25 6/13/98 (0)
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