Romantic Alienation

  • Geoffrey Thurley


So far we have studied the Romantic predicament in terms of the language of’ its poetry, its new sense of ‘meaning’, and a certain subjectivism of literary content. In all cases, what had been felt before to be shortcomings of Romantic writers, turned out on inspection to be simply characteristics of a particular historical situation. This situation — the Romantic predicament — is beginning to emerge as a series of content-shifts. These shifts can be seen in turn as fallings-away — privations of subject-matter and attitude. Not only the way poets see things, but what they see, is created by the evolution of the historical continuum of which they are part. Erwin Panofsky’s perception that the material available to the artist changed dramatically during the Romantic period emerges as more and more important. If the evolution of history robbed the artist of the efficacy of certain traditional iconographies (themes and motifs, once operative and pungent, now decorative and useless), so did it alter the artist’s vision of man himself.


Romantic Period Historical Situation Christian Doctrine Romantic Poet Societal Organisation 
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© Geoffrey Thurley 1983

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  • Geoffrey Thurley

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