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Chief Characteristics of Romantic Poetry (1)

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The term ‘Romanticism’ has been variously defined by various writers. Peter, for example, calls it the “addition of strangeness to beauty”. And Watts Dunton defines it as, “the renaissance of wonder.” Herfood calls it extraordinary development of imaginative sensibility. Legouis and Cazamian emphasize both the emotional and imaginative aspects of romanticism and call it, “an accentuated predominance of emotional life, provoked and directed by the exercise of imaginative vision”. All such definitions are, however, unsatisfactory and partial, for they emphasize one or the other element of this type of literature instead of giving a composite view. It would therefore, be more profitable to consider the salient features of English Romantic poetry instead of wasting time in defining Romanticism.

The chief characteristics of romantic poetry are:

a. Subjectivity
All Romantic literature is subjective in nature. It is an expression of the inner urges of the soul of the artist. The poet does not c…

Marxist Criticism (5)

Marxist criticism in Britain has not flourished to the extent it has elsewhere. The first English Marxist critic of note was Christopher Caudwell (1907-37). In “Illusion and Reality” (1937) and “Studies in a Dying Culture” (1938), he attempted definitions of Marxist theories of art. It is more important since Raymoond Williams (1921-88) attempted an historical assessment of culture and literature in Marxist terms. His relevant works are, notably, “Culture and Society 1780-1950” (1958), “The Long Revolution” (1961), “The Country and the City” (1973), and “Marxism and Literature” (1977). The principal theorist of Marxist criticism in Britain is Terry Eagleton, who has developed various views of Althusser and Macherey and suggests that a basic problem is to make clear the relationship between an ideology (e.g. Marxism) and literature. In his view, texts do not reflect reality but influence an ideology to produce the effect or impression of reality. By ideology, he does not necessarily me…

Marxist Criticism (4)

The French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser (1918-1990) developed a theory of different ‘levels’ within the social formation and argued that these ‘levels’ possess no overall unity. They have a ‘relative autonomy’.

‘Relative autonomy’ is a recent attempt by Marxists to get round the problem posed by Marx’s view that Greek art was eternally beautiful. This ‘idealist embarrassment’ can be overcome if we recognize that art is relatively autonomous.

Althusser argues that at any point one ‘level’ may be dominant and that level is determined (in the last instance) by the economic level; or’ it may be free of it as well – hence it is relative. Althusser’s views on literature differ from those of any traditional Marxist. In his opinion great works of literature do not express an ideology nor do they provide a ‘conceptual understanding of reality’. He sees literature as an ideological form/state apparatus. In “Letter on Art to Andre Daspre” and “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” (in…