Free Essay On American Romanticism

Essay on Introduction to Romanticism

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For many years, this period and these writers were known as the American Renaissance, a coin termed by F.O. Matthiessen in his book of that name in 1941. This book set the parameters of how to read and connect these writers until relatively recently, when its limitations, especially in terms of defining the "canon" of literary giants and what made them (all male) "giants" have been recognized and challenged. However, the term is still useful to some degree. It is a misnomer, if one thinks of the period as a time of rebirth of some earlier literary greatness, as the European Renaissance, because there was nothing to be "reborn." The great writers of this period, roughly 1840-1865 although more particularly…show more content…

There is nothing comparable in so short a period in Europe. Is there any relationship between this literary outburst and the conflicts which would soon lead to war?

As is so often true, there are no good answers, but lots of good speculation. Cultural there was time for literature and art; the practical matters such as the essential of making a living and establishing political independence had been squared. There were American publishers and even more important, copyright laws protected writers from having their works printed, without their permission or pay, in England. There were readers, often women eager to expand their minds. It was actually possible to make a kind of living as a writer, although it was difficult and limited, making these writers agonize over the problem of "vocation." There was also a strong national pride, self-conscious and anti-British.

Politically the time was ripe. The 18th century left a heritage of optimism about man's possibilities and perfectability. The lofty ideals of democracy asserted the value of individuals, regardless of class, and education. Of course, these values primarily applied to white males. In fact, tensions were building which cried out for creative release. Inequality, not equality was the rule for many, especially women and slaves. The clash of these realities with the idealistic rhetoric led writers to take extremes, championing individualism yet also seeing the darker sides of a fragmenting

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