RETURN TO NATURE
RETURN TO NATURE
It was the beginning of the nineteenth century that witnessed the flourish of Romanticism in English Literature. This age is also nicknamed as RETURN TO NATURE. Romanticism in English Literature took its inspiration from the French Revolution. This revolution stormed through Europe and shook it.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (RETURN TO NATURE)
In the year 1789 broke out the French Revolution. It shook the younger generation of the time with its initial message of liberty and humanity. Inspired by the humanitarian idealism of Rousseausim, the French Revolution propagated a new social doctrine. The new slogan of French Revolution was liberty, fraternity, and equality. This crossed the sea and reached the shores of England. The Romantic poets of English Literature like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge made extensive tours in France. They were drawn to the activities of the revolutionists of the French Revolution. French Revolution sowed the seed of Romanticism in English Literature.
However, the lofty ideals of the French revolution gave birth to dangerous absolutism. Napoleon assumed full imperial power in 1799. Napoleon’s conquests usurped the rights and liberty of the Europeans. This no doubt shocked terribly the warm admirers of the French Revolution. The French Revolution filled the earlier romanticists of English Literature. They, however, found a serious threat in Napoleon. We already know he was a destroyer of human freedom and human happiness. The association of these romanticists of English Literature with the French Revolution was a ‘melancholy dream’ to them.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH AND SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (RETURN TO NATURE)
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s joint work – Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798, marked the beginning of a new literary movement. This movement is known as ‘Romanticism’ in the history of English Literature. The new movement may well be associated with Elizabethan romanticism in English Literature. It is a sharp contrast to the English Literature of the age of prose and reason of the eighteenth century. Rather, it can be said, there was a birth of the new poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge in English Literature. There was a barren period of rationality and social criticism in the poetic realm of eighteenth-century English Literature. Romanticism marks a happy and inspiring trend in the world of English Literature in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
WHAT IS ROMANTICISM IN ENGLISH LITERATURE?
In the art of romanticism in English Literature, this endeavor for the liberation of creative energy and imagination is a distinct feature. Romanticism, in English Literature, is actually to break the bars of the real. It is to transcend the limitations of matter and time to establish the unknown and unreal. As if this world of imagination was where we always lived in.
RETURN TO NATURE
In the history of English Literature, the uniqueness of the artists of romanticism lies not in what they say. There is neither any exception or unnaturalness in what they say nor in the subject they choose. Romantic English Literature binds together the love for freedom, fondness for mysticism, and the passion for beauty.
THE POETS OF THE ROMANTIC AGE AND THEIR LOVE FOR NATURE (RETURN TO NATURE)
Wordsworth is a poet of nature and his poetry is an idealization of the natural world, with meditation and devotion. His paganism forms a romantic appreciation of nature. Nature to Wordsworth is a mighty and majestic spirit that enlivens and summons every object of the visible world. Shelley’s love for nature is, too, passionate, though he is found to romanticize and humanize different natural phenomena. His legends are the extraordinary presentation of the romance of poetic imagination in nineteenth-century Romantic English Literature. In Byron, Keats, Coleridge, and Southey ( poets of Romantic English Literature ), romantic love for nature is also intense. Sir Walter Scott’s Scottish lays, as well as historical novels, are also rich in distinct natural details.
THE ART OF MYSTICISM IN RETURN TO NATURE
Mysticism forms the third distinctive feature of Romantic English Literature. This Renaissance of wonder, as it is often termed, is found to have entered intimately into Romantic English Literature. It had coloured profoundly not only poetry but also fictional as well as non-fictional prose-writings of nineteenth-century English Literature. Wordsworth’s paganism, Shelley’s legends, and Coleridge’s supernaturalism bear out the mystical notes of romantic poetry.
MYSTERY AND SUPERNATURALISM IN RETURN TO NATURE
We also notice the romantic interest in the mystery and the supernatural in the romances of terror ( English Literature ) of Mary Shelley, Anne Radcliffe, Horace Walpole and others. Mysticism is also evident in Charles Lamb’s Elian Essays ( nineteenth century English Literature ) in his mystification of readers in a natural witty way.
RETURN TO THE BYGONE DAYS
One of the haunting attractions of romantic English Literature we find in its keen attachment to the past. The authors of Romantic English Literature, exhausted with the shoddy present, seem to turn back to the romance of bygone ages – of the days which are no more. There took place, what we popularly call, a revival of the past. Coleridge and Keats we find were drawn to the dim medieval past. Hellenism, too, forms a part of the poetic mood of the romanticists, like Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Scott’s historical novels very well explain the attraction of the romantic era poets and novelists’ fascination for the past. This is equally applicable to the novels of Bulwer Lytton. We can very rightly call the literary interest of the past the fourth feature of Romantic English Literature.
SUBJECTIVITY OF THE POETS OF RETURN TO NATURE
Subjectivity constitutes a paramount trait in Romantic English Literature. In fact, self-revelation is a part of romantic expressions. Romantic poets and authors ( English Literature ) reveal much of themselves – their moods, feelings, and experiences – in their works.
The Romantic Age is certainly an age of poetry. The chief literary glory of the age lies in the great poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, and Scott. But however, the prose literature of the Romantic Age is in no way less impressive. The historical novels of Sir Walter Scott, social novels of Jane Austen, thrillers of Mary Shelley are remarkable contributions to the world of fiction.