WORLD literature II (ENG 252)

Rousseau and also Romanticism: examine Guide

Dr. Diane Thompson, dearteassociazione.org, ELI



The romantic writers and also poets make a real break through the rational, orderly thinking of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. While we still think the Voltaire together a symbol of the strength of reason, his contemporary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was one of the early, influential voices the nineteenth century romanticism. (Ayer, 171)

One that the enlightenment philosophes, Denis Diderot, described Rousseau as a madman and a damned soul and also "wrote the the poets had been best in place an enormous interval between heaven and also hell, implying that Rousseau resided in hell. Strachey"s discuss this is that Diderot to be wrong. `The...

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, throughout which, so strangely and so horribly, the had caught glimpses the what he had actually never checked out before, was not the abyss between heaven and hell, but between the old world and the new."" (Ayer, 171)

The high monk of Romanticism to be Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Rousseau"s mother died at his birth, and also his father increased him with no discipline and very small education. Rousseau flourished up in beautiful, landscape Switzerland, which taught him to love nature; however, many thanks to his irresponsible father, Rousseau never ever learned self-discipline, nor did he have any type of patience with external controls. Rousseau never can tolerate any type of discipline, which can be viewed in all of his writings, which room celebrations the the joys the radical separation, personal, instance freedom.

Rousseau ran away at sixteen and wandered for twenty years. He functioned at various odd jobs throughout this time, but never grounding to anything.

Eventually he involved Paris wherein he composed a few articles for the Encyclopedia and some music and also poetry.

Rousseau published four vital books:

New Heloise (1760)

Émile (1762)

Social Contract (1762)

Confessions (1781)

These publications were really popular and also made a profound impression on european thinking, specifically influencing the Romantic movement. Rousseau has been called the father of the Romantic movement because his "enthusiasm because that nature and his appeal to the emotions ...opened the way for...the Romantic... .... His concepts stimulated or inspired..." many other writers. (Ergang, 641)



New Heloise, Rousseau"s an initial book is a romantic story told in the type of letters. One of the main themes is the beauties the nature and also the basic life as opposed come the corrupt and artificial life in the cities. (Ergang, 640)

Rousseau believed that human beings were born naturally an excellent and the they were corrupted by poor institutions such as governments, schools, cities and also armies, which caused the society inequality, suffering and also injustice that were everywhere around him. Rousseau"s solution to the misery the life in his time was to adjust the laws and institutions.

These alters would take place by human being returning come nature and also the natural state of human goodness, uncorrupted by institutions that sustained inequality and oppression. In such a natural state, Rousseau thought, the few would not oppress the many.

Rousseau"s concept that nature was basically kindly and great was the development of his very own imagination. However, as Ergang comments, Rousseau"s "`back to nature"" gospel was...the most an effective regenerative force of the so late eighteenth century, and of the nineteenth--one i beg your pardon turned the believed of Europe into new channels. There are couple of men in the background of contemporary times who have influenced the mind of the human being as profoundly together did Rousseau. Politics, education, religion, aesthetics, morals, and also literature all bear the admire of the concepts he proclaimed." (Ergang, 643)



Émile (1762) has had tremendous impact on modern theories of elementary education. In Émile, Rousseau explained a new kind of education which was based upon fostering the herbal abilities of each child instead of trying to pressure all kids into a solitary mold. This radically new method of education and learning would maintain the child"s herbal goodness instead of corrupting it. (Ergang, 641)



In Social Contract Rousseau argues that the existence of all claims is based upon a "social contract" which may be composed or merely understood. In this contract, the members that the state surrender your individual civil liberties to the "general will."

Since the strength of the state originates from the strength of the people, each among those world is at some point the resource of every state power, and therefore for sure free.

According come Ergang, "the Social Contract is just one of the most significant political treatises of every time. Solid a measure up was framed in the early part of the French transformation which does no bear the note of this "Bible of democratic government," together it has actually been styled." (Ergang, 641)



Confessions to be written between 1765 and 1770; that was released posthumously in 1781.

Rousseau had received lot attention because of New Heloise, Émile, and also social Contract. Lot of it was positive; however, much was outrage in ~ his radical ideas and also Rousseau had actually to flee the nation to protect against being sent to prison. Follow to Ergang, this "...opposition... Made the suspicious and misanthropic. His sensitiveness to be aggravated to such an degree that that suffered much from imaginary and from genuine attacks. In the hope that he can justify himself to posterity, Rousseau created his autobiography or Confessions...." (Ergang, 642) Rousseau wanted to demonstrate that the was, in spite of all his faults, basically good.

"How can I become wicked, as soon as I had nothing yet examples the gentleness before my eyes, and none approximately me however the ideal people in the world."WL1631

Before Rousseau, nearly no one created autobiographies other than a few deeply religious people who wanted to guide others in your spiritual development. Human being generally had actually seen themselves as members that a social unit, not as individuals, for this reason the an extremely concept that autobiography was not particularly interesting or relevant. Each human being was believed to be much like every other.

However, according to J. M. Cohen, "By Rousseau"s period ... Men had started to view themselves not as atom in a culture that stretched down indigenous God come the civilization of nature yet as distinct individuals, necessary in their own right." (Cohen, 7) It was this emerging idea that the distinct individual which made possible a publication such as the Confessions, i beg your pardon started totally aware of exactly how radical an undertaking it was:

"I am commencing an undertaking, hitherto without precedent, and which will never find an imitator. I desire to set before mine fellows the likeness that a guy in all the truth of nature, and that male myself.

"Myself alone! I recognize the feeling of mine heart, and also I know men. I am not made like any of those I have actually seen; I undertaking to think that i am not made like any of those who room in existence. If ns am no better, at the very least I am different." (Norton WL1629-30)

Rousseau thought that emotion, which come from nature and from sexual love, to be the main point of his being and the source of his inspiration.

"My passions have made me live, and also my passions have actually killed me. What passions? will certainly be asked. Trifles, the many childish things in the world, which, however, excited me as much as if the possession of Helen or the throne of the universe had been at stake. In the first place--women. Once I possessed one, my senses were calm, mine heart, never. The requirements of love devoured me in the middle of enjoyment; I had actually a soft mother, a dear friend; but I required a mistress. I imagined one in her place...

"Thus ns was burning with love, there is no an object..." (Norton WL1638)

This objectless yearning is the an extremely essence that the romantic stance, the longing because that the objects of creativity rather than the objects or persons really present. Rousseau provides his very own emotions, his very own longings, the subject issue of his writing. This is a far cry undoubtedly from the objective distance Voltaire takes from bad Candide.



What, exactly, was so new about the Romantic people view? first of all, the Romantics turned away from the intellectual tradition that the Western world which held that reason was the way to know and understand the world. Instead, the Romantics chose to take on imagination and feeling together truer means of knowledge the world.

While traditional western culture had assumed of poets as holding increase a winter to nature and imitating what they experienced there, the Romantic duration changed that image to a fountain or a lamp which offered out indigenous itself instead of simply mirroring the world around it.

The poet now was thought of as producing the poetic vision out of a mixture of creativity and an individual experience, not simply finding and also recording the world as it to be or need to be.



The Romantics love wild landscapes and also uncivilized peoples. They wanted quaint villages and foreign wildernesses come the urban of Europe. The Romantics to be fascinated through exotic stories and eccentric individuals; they loved the "folk" and folktales and also rejected lot of the traditional, upper-class society of the eighteenth century, to like the center Ages, international nationals, and also colorful country cultures.

One instance of this folktale, medieval exoticism is john Keats" "La Belle Dame sans Merci" which speak a tale around a article languishing in thrall to a magical fairy lady. He had been riding along once he met a beautiful lady. They obtained along simply fine until she took him house with her and also lulled him come sleep; he dreamed of death-pale kings, princes and warriors:

lock cried, "La belle dame sans merci Thee on foot in thrall!" I observed their starved lips in the gloam through horrid warning gaped wide, and I awoke, and also found me right here On the cold hill"s side. And this is why ns sojourn here, Alone and also palely loitering; despite the sedge withered from the lake and also no bird sing. (Norton, WL, )

Poor fellow, he"s concerned a typical, wretched, however exotic Romantic ending. Notice, by the way, exactly how the knight"s paleness matches the withered sedge and how his misery matches the lack of birdsong. Romantic poets were an especially sensitive to the relationship between human emotions and the neighboring landscape.



Indeed, the Romantic landscape is one of person emotion combined with rugged mountains, wild grottoes and also untamed countryside. This communication of emotion and also scenery is typical of Romantic poetry, even if it is it requires giving person personality come a natural object, such as a tree, or tying the landscape to the the atmosphere of the poet. "A Spruce is standing Lonely," by Heine is a good example that a Romantic poet infusing herbal objects with person emotions:

A spruce is was standing lonely in the phibìc on a barren height. He drowses; ice and also snowflakes wrap that in a blanket of white. The dreams about a palm tree in a distant, east land, the languishes lonely and also silent top top the scorching sand. (Norton, WL)

The tree, as with a person, is lonely, sleeps and has desires of an exotic love far away. The isolated landscape every tree sits in is a have fun of the isolated emotions of every tree, another typical Romantic device.

Shelley"s "Ode to the West Wind" personifies the wind into a soul of nature:

O wild West Wind, thou breath that Autumn"s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead space driven, choose ghosts from an enchanter fleeing...

Not only is the wind provided a superhuman personality, yet it have the right to inspire the poet together in these additional lines indigenous the very same poem, wherein the poet cries come the wind:

do me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if mine leaves are falling prefer its own! The tumult of your mighty harmonies will certainly take native both a deep, autumn tone, Sweet despite in sadness. Be thou, spirit fierce, mine spirit! it is in thou me, impetuous one! (Norton, WL )

Here the relationship between poet and also nature is complete; nature in the form of the West Wind is personified into a spirit. The poet receive his inspiration from the heart of the West Wind, and also the poet desires to sign up with his spirit to the heart of the West Wind. Further, the poet"s depressed mood meets that perfect complement in the cold autumnal scene.

Note, also, the line: "Make me your lyre, also as the woodland is." The image of the poet together a lyre, or an aeolian harp (a wind harp) is vital romantic concept. The poet walk not just see the landscape and also copy it; rather, he is a perceptible instrument upon which nature plays, choose the wind ~ above the strings that a harp, and the consequent poem is a an innovative product that this interaction between nature and the poet.

Coleridge"s "Dejection: an Ode" additionally expresses this interaction in between the poet and also nature:

O Lady! us receive however what us give, and in our life alone walk Nature live: ....................................................... Ah! from the heart itself must concern forth A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud Enveloping the Earth-- and also from the soul itself need to there be sent A sweet and also potent voice, that its own birth, Of all sweet sound the life and element! (Norton, WL )

The beauty we view in the civilization is no out there in the world, yet comes from human being perception and emotion; beauty, beauty is a creature of our own creative imagination; this beauty beauty is what the romantic poet create in his poetry; he is not imitating the civilization as in a mirror, but setting it forth in luminous glory, together by the light of the lamp of his own imagination.



Fantasy was additionally much appreciated by the romantic poets. Maybe the most well known fantasy city of this duration is "Kubla Khan" through Coleridge. That is a fragment, supposedly remembered indigenous an interrupted minus dream, about a fantastic world:

In Xanadu go Kubla cannes A stately pleasure-dome decree: wherein Alph, the sacred river, ran with caverns measureless to male Down to a sunless sea. (Norton, WL)

Such a city is purely a creation of the poet"s imagination; over there is no it was observed landscape to be transformed by poetic creativity, yet simply the poet"s mind, and the words of the poem which develop images that never ever existed before.



"How carry out I feel?" to be a major question because that Rousseau and also the Romantics. Where Voltaire and his friends thought that they might think v a problem and come to a reasonable answer, Rousseau and the Romantics cried, NO! thinking will not offer us the answers we must the an interpretation of life nor aid us to suffer the vital nature that being and the world; we must FEEL what is right and learn come know around the people through ours feelings. This reliance on feeling over assumed was based upon a belief that humans were naturally good and qualified of recognizing the an excellent when they competent it. Rousseau, especially, believed that people"s organic feelings were sound; only corrupt world could distort world into brutal, unfeeling monsters.

Romantic poet"s feelings, however, were likely to be depressed, or at least feelings of dejection motivated a variety of romantic poems, such together Coleridge"s "Dejection: an Ode," Keats" "Ode ~ above Melancholy," and Shelley"s "Stanzas composed in Dejection--December 1818, near Naples," where the poet complains:

"Alas, I have actually nor expect nor health Nor tranquility within no one calm around, no one that content surpassing riches The sage in meditation found, and walked v inward glory crowned; nor fame nor strength nor love no one leisure--" (Norton WL)



The French transformation occurred in 1789. It overthrew the extensively corrupt Old Regime, yet then dragged on into an extensive horror that killings within France, recognized as "The Terror" and war through other nations and more European transformations in the nineteenth century. Violent change became the norm for this period. Such change was based at least partly ~ above the hope for a better life; yet the change itself was frightening and often destructive.

The French change was a major influence ~ above the Romantics, together were the wars and also revolutions that followed. Romantic poets wrote around the corruption of governments and the human being suffering led to by violence. One instance of a Romantic political city is Victor Hugo"s "Memory that the Night that the Fourth" which describes a kid shot by the soldiers the Louis Napoleon Bonaparte during civil disturbances in 1851:

"The child had actually been struck by two bullets in the head. The dwelling was clean and also modest, peaceful and good. Above a picture, a blessed branch, and also in the room an old grandmother--weeping. We undressed the in silence. His pale mouth open. Fatality was clouding over his lively eye His arms hanging down seemed a cry for help. In his pocket, a boxwood spinning-top." (Norton WL )

The poem proceeds with the granny speaking her grief and wondering why Mr. Bonaparte had actually to death a child. The narrator describes that Mr. Bonaparte wanted an intricate palaces and wealth and respect:

"That"s why it has to be this way: old grandmothers through their poor gray finger shaking with period Must bland in winding-sheets children of seven." (Norton WL )

This city expresses anger in ~ the devilish irrationality that a government that somehow permits children to die in bespeak to provide palaces because that rulers. The attention to the details of a usually home, the optimal in the child"s pocket, the old grandmother, these too room the ingredient of romantic poetry. The effect is no elegant, yet pathetic. We are intended to feeling for the child"s death and also feel outrage in ~ Mr. Bonaparte and his corruption state.

Not every romantic poets to be anti-establishment every the time. Part were more worried by the radical revolutionaries than by the corruption that governments. My favourite political poem of this sort is Heine"s "The Migratory Rats." these rats, while delightfully rat-like, are additionally uncannily similar to a load of nineteenth century radicals seeking come overturn everything and also re-divide the world according to their needs.

There space two kinds of rat The hungry and the fat; The fat ones happily stay at home, yet the hungry ones set out come roam. .............................................. A sensuous mob, castle think just of food and drink; lock ignore, since food is their only goal, The immortality the the soul. For such a brutal rat fear neither hell no one cat; No goods, nor money they ever before acquire, come redivide the people they desire. (Norton WL )

This city is interesting since it does no idealize the fat rats, nor deny the truth of the hungry rats" needs, but it does no condone their technique of handling their hunger--revolution. That is also amusing; I deserve to imagine it together a scenario because that a Disney cartoon.



And that course, the Romantics wrote around human love, specifically in its much more unusual variations. "The Asra," also by Heine is a an excellent example that the Romantic blend of exoticism and also love. A beautiful daughter of the Sultan walks every evening by a fountain; a young servant stands through the fractional every evening, growing ever paler. Lastly the princess asks the his name and kin. He replies:

............................ "Mohamet Is mine name, i am indigenous Yemen, and also my kinsmen room the Asra, They that die once love befalls them." (Norton WL )

What can be more romantic? an exotic, distant setting in the fabled, Arab world, a slave in love v a princess, a people of guys who dice of love, and also the slave farming paler and paler, obviously dying of love for the princess. This is the stuff of romantic fantasy, indeed.


ROMANTICISM and also THE contemporary WORLD

Perhaps most necessary for us, the Romantics were the begin of the contemporary western worldview, which sees people as cost-free individuals search fulfillment through democratic processes, fairly than together bound members the a traditional, authoritarian community. The sixties hippies search peace and also happiness; the eighties yuppies doing their very own thing; the tearing down of the Berlin wall in the name of freedom: every are direct descendents the the Romantics, tearing loosened from the chop social cloth of the community and seeking happiness and fulfillment at a an individual level.



Abrams, M. H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic theory and the crucial tradition. London: Oxford U. P., 1953.

Ayer, Alfred Jules. Voltaire. New York: random House, 1986.

Cohen, J. M. A background of western Literature. Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1956.

Ergang, Robert. Europe native the Renaissance to Waterloo. Boston: D. C. Heath. 1954 v revised bibliography; originally published in 1954.

Mack, Maynard, Gen. Ed. The Norton Anthology of people Masterpieces. sixth Edition. Volume 2. Brand-new York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1992.

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Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Confessions -- 1765 - 1770; published posthumously in 1781, trans. J. M. Cohen, Penguin, 1956.