HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism


Romanticism is one of the most important historical events of all time. Unlike a lot of what gets called history, romanticism isn’t a war or a piece of technology or a political event. It refers to the birth of a new set of ideas. It is about a mindset and a way of feeling. Romanticism began in Western Europe in the mid-18 century, in the work of artists, poets and philosophers. And it subsequently spread all over the world. Changing how millions of people look at nature, children, love, sex, money and work. We are all now more or less in some aspect of our sensibilities romantics. Romanticism is best understood as a reaction to the birth of the modern world and some of its key features: industrialization, urbanization, secularization and consumerism. What follows, are some of the central moments in the history of romanticism: The Marais, Paris, May 1762. The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau publishes a book about the raising of children: “Emile” or “On Education”. It contains diatribes against the oppressive world of adults. And praises the natural goodness, spontaneity and wisdom of little children. It is at points extremely anxious to get mothers to breast-feed their offspring. The first sustained argument for this practice in western civilization. The world around Rousseau is growing ever more, rational, scientific and technologically based. It is increasingly sensible, planned, sterile and bureaucratic. Against all of these, Rousseau emphasizes the child, the original rebel, the representative of everything that is pure, unschooled and outside of adult discipline. It is the seat of creativity and genius. For the first time in Western history, glamour is directed not at the attainment of reason and adult self control, But at the freedom from tradition and the natural, innocence and the sweetness of the child. Brook Street, London, August 1770 A precocious 17 year old poet called Thomas Chatterton downs some arsenic and ends his life in a tiny attic apartment. He kills himself because no one wants to publish his poetry which is concerned with beauty and wisdom. And because his uncomprehending family are applying pressure for him to become a lawyer. A cult soon grows up around the young beautiful poet with shoulder length chestnut hair. He becomes an emblem of something that will become very important for romantics: the idea of the sensitive, doomed person often an artist rejected by a cruel, vulgar world. Chatterton stands at the head of a long line of romantic heroes that will stretch from Byron to Keiths to Van Gogh, and eventually all the way to Jim Morris and Amy Winehouse. Romanticism borrows from Christianity. The romantic hero is a secularized Christ like figure. The loser who is in truth deeply noble in the eyes of the few who understand. Leipzig, Germany, 1774 The German author Goethe publishes the quintessential romantic love story: The Sorrows of Young Werther. It tells the story of a passionate doomed love affair between a young poet called Werther and a beautiful clever young woman called Charlotte. Unfortunately for Werther, Charlotte is
married. So the love is impossible from the very start but that doesn’t stop
Werther, a dreamy and practical young man who loves the arts above all else. Like
chatterton, Werther is under pressure to have a sensible career and join
bourgeois life but he can think of only one thing: The impulses of his heart. Eventually
Werther can’t take it anymore and kills himself but rather than condemning
him as a lunatic and a hothead, Goethe one of the founding fathers of
Romanticism directs all our sympathies towards Werther. We are supposed to be on his side admiring
his passionate and entirely impractical attitude to love. The book becomes the
most popular novel of a generation. Three million copies are printed. Napoleon declares it the greatest work
of European literature and it dramatically changes how many people
think of love, privileging dramatic outpourings of feeling over more
traditional rational concerns for class lineage and money. For a romantic it’s always right and Noble to follow your heart. The disastrous results
that follow aren’t any argument that just proof of how desiccated and
heartless the so-called adult sensible world can be. Madrid, spain, 1798 The artist Francisco Goya produces one of his most iconic images titled “The Sleep
of Reason Brings out Monsters”. It captures a quintessential romantic
interest in the limits of reason and the power of the irrational over humans
fragile minds. To be romantic is to have sympathy for madness and to hold an
almost vengeful attitude towards bombastic claims as to the triumph of
rationality, science and logic. The Lake District, England, December 1799 A young English poet called William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy move into what set to become one of the most famous residences in the history of English
literature: Dove cottage in Grasmere on the edge of The Lake District. Here they will spend the next nine years and Wordsworth will write some of the greatest poetry
in english language, celebrating something that’s very under threat: the
natural world. He will write about daffodils, oak trees,
clouds, butterflies and rivers and his work will charm and seduce Europe. Within a generation their will in Wordsworth own estimation be more tourists than
sheep in The Lake District. Most importantly, running through
Wordsworth poetry is an abiding hatred for everything mechanical and industrial.
When many years later a railway line threatens to pass through the Lake
District Wordsworth and his followers do everything they can to have the train, a
symbol of Wordsworth hated technology rerouted. To be a romantic is to take
the side of nature against industry. It is to prefer a daffodil to a viaduct, to
a tree to a factory. At the moment when huge swaths of Britain are being covered
in the often monstrous new cities that are making Europe rich, Wordsworth the
quintessential romantic speaks up for the natural and a simple life. Niagara, United States, September 1829 The American painter Thomas Cole paints one of his most characteristic images of the mighty Niagara Falls with a couple of Native Americans in the foreground. Cole makes his name as a painter of
sublime scenes, vast landscapes of the American interior showing nature at its
most dignified and impressive. Man looks lost and puny by comparison. This too is
a typical romantic attitude, for romantics don’t believe in God but they
go in search of the emotions one might once have had around
religion and locate them in a big wide-open spaces of nature. To be a
romantic is to find relief from the pressures of competitive city life in
the sort of natural grandeur that transcends all human achievements and
concerns. Westminster, London, April 1847 14 years after some fairly incompetent officials destroy the British parliament with fire, a new building reopens designed by a rising star architect: Augustus Pugin. Oddly even though the building is new It is made to look old, very very old,
medieval in fact. It is full of suits of armor and seated angels. When the
architect Pugin defends the building he argues that is building is Noble
because it harks back to his country’s pre-industrial past, before it grew
obsessed, he is careful to add with money or technology. It begins a cult of the Middle Ages, a
big theme and romanticism which identifies in the world of knights and
castles, a nobility that is thought missing from the factories and shopping arcades
of the modern world. Saint-Germain, Paris, May 1863 The French poet Charles Baudelaire writes a prose poem celebrating an unusual character whom he calls a flâneur, a stroller or loafer. A casual wanderer who has no particular job to go to and just spend this time observing busy
street life of a modern city, threading his way through the crowds,
strolling instead of rushing, sampling people’s conversations and creating
narratives for others lives. Baudelaire, a typical romantic admires the flâneur’s playfulness and lack of practicality. This person isn’t a waste of time. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have a
job for Baudelaire he is a prince, unlike the boring wage slaves rushing to
the new offices of capitalism. Le Havre, April 1891 The french painter Paul Gauguin set sail for Tahiti, hoping to escape everything that is artificial and conventional. He lives in the Pacific South Seas on and off for the rest of his life, drawing young Native women looking relaxed and natural without
anything on. They are in his eyes evidence that
civilization is what has made a sick, A core romantic belief. The Romantic movement has permanently
changed our sensibilities as the world has grown ever more
technological and rational romanticism has come to stick up for the irrational,
the untrained, the exotic, the childlike and the naive. There is naturally something a bit
adolescent and immature within Romanticism. But then again it can be something
rather heartless, cold, dogmatic and arrogant in many aspects of modernity. one hopes this isn’t going to be the end
of the story that we may in the future learn to soften the worst side of
modernity through the best sides of romanticism, in order to create a more
evolved alternative, what one might term: an age of maturity.

100 thoughts on “HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

  1. Many argue that the character of Werther is actually a criticism of excessive emotion. Goethe was frustrated with the popularity of the novel…

  2. Excellent video, but object to what you said about how "romantics don't believe in God". To clarify, many romantics (Coleridge, etc.) DOD believe in God, but rejected the established church and "religion", seeing it as hypocritical.

  3. You missed the musical significance of Beethovan, Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Beethovan's Moonlight Sonata was every bit as important as the dates you quote, not to mention his symphonies.

  4. Please could you think about releasing transcripts for your videos? I love using these for my classes but some of my students have hearing or other learning difficulties and having these as a transcript would be so incredibly helpful!

  5. Rumi, 13th Century Persian poet, also had a romantic "throw caution to the wind in a storm of passion" attitude. Here are some Rumi quotes. Who dares to live like this?

    “Forget safety.
    Live where you fear to live.
    Destroy your reputation.
    Be notorious.”

    “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

    “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

    “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

    “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

    “Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

    “In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

    “The minute I heard my first love story,
    I started looking for you, not knowing
    how blind that was.
    Lovers don't finally meet somewhere
    They're in each other all along.”

    “What you seek is seeking you.”

    "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

  6. Incorrect information.
    Goethe never wrote anything romantic. Be careful what you publish. Leiden des jungen Werthers (Sorrows of young Werther) is "Sturm und Drang", not romanticism. After publishing many S. U D. books, Goethe changed to Weimarer Klassik, but never Romanticism!

  7. They were in my opinion the 80th century hippies. Not in every regard but definitely hugely similiar

  8. This is I feel a crucial thing to reflect on right now. We are as a civilization emerging from our modern puberty.

  9. Well the petit bourgois still tends to abuse their children with stupidity and lessons of antique conservativism while Schopenhauer said that its clear its usually the adult who fucks up a child. So pink floyd is definatly right if they say we don't need no education, advise yes not education.

  10. I invented energy source as a Victorian steam factory harvested from victorian chimneys and it burns on John Milton paradise lost industrial prints so. THere is a possibility for regressive romantics then.

  11. Excuse me? Where is Percy Bysshe Shelley in this? Not only did you exclude him from the over view at the beginning but also the time line. Shelley is perhaps the most poignant of all second gen Romantics and truly embodies the movement. Also they ALL didn't believe in God? Erm… evidence for that? Although this is a well made video with 'some' great info it's fairly ignorant. Frankly I am amazed Shelley isn't in there, especially as you mentioned the shunned Romantic radical. That IS Shelley. Anyone that's reading this, if you want to read some beautiful, provocative Romantic poetry and prose look to Shelley. The "unacknowledged legislator".

  12. Though this may suck, I think that maybe arranged
    marriages on the whole are more 'successful' than romantic ones.
    Except for marriage by capture, I like that one. 😏

  13. I've read "The Sorrows of Young Werther". A lot of eye-rolling was involved. I lean toward Decadent works–you know, those of Baudelaire, Huysmans, Sade, etc. Let us not forget that Jean-Jacques liked to be whipped–particularly by an older woman.

  14. "Romantics don't believe in God…" oh, please! Within the Romanticism there were ideals that exalted the Divine in God (or gods), as well as many Christian Romantic Representatives. And I don't mean that Romanticism was a religious movement (it wasn't, I know), nor that all the Romantics were Believers, but it's simply not true that Archetypical Romantic was an emotion-seeker atheist!

  15. I’m here for a school project and this is sure to help but honestly I’ve always been a nerd for history and I found this fascinating because when I look at history I never quite look at literature and art. I should start doing that more thanks!

  16. i really need help plz respond if possible
    i have a project (powerpoint ) to do on the romanticism novels and it’s setting but i think i confused myself with online research so i don’t know anything about its setting

  17. Great video! i think if you included the names of the people mentioned so we get to see how they're spelled it'll be very helpful.

  18. Dionisios Solomos, a trully great and deep poet brought me here, collecting pieces to help me understand the fragments of his work

  19. An Age of Maturity: I doubt it'll happen, the propensity of power to control outweighs its propensity to integrate. But perhaps the movie The Fountain offers a potential optimistic future where the "astronaut" utilizes an understanding of nature to sustain himself within an ecosphere. Even here though hubris is still evident.

  20. This video brought me so much Joy. What an amazing video on just how important for all of us to have some romantic beliefs if we want to live in a beautiful world

  21. Worst reading of Goethe ever. It was supposed to be a cautionary tale. Werther was a fool in Geothes eyes.

  22. If you truly desire an age of maturity you must first remove the large amount of bias and singular point of perspective in this video.

  23. Nice video. The only thing that could've improved it would have been to mention the relation between romanticism and revolutions and the rise of (liberal) nationalism in the 1800's.

  24. I’m confused! I’m just trying to teach myself this but this is hard to understand I get it’s a movement but like idk what this means ://

  25. I think we got Romanticism wrong the first time. It would've been helpful to include The Romantic Manifesto in the video. It's a remarkable aesthetic achivement.

  26. So romanticism is the middle-age crisis of human history?
    Joke aside, romanticism and renaissance are my favourite eras.
    Also, NO VICTOR HUGO? He's a romantic as far as I know, but still I'm not sure. His characters are outsiders, rebels and have the feels, but he likes being practical too and is involved with politics.

  27. Good video. But, you forgot to mention that Napoleon and Hitler were also Romantics. Romanticism is essentially bullshit. Wait, you did mention Napoleon. Oh, and often you use the word "rational" when you should use the word "empirical."

  28. "Classicism is health, romanticism is disease." – Goethe

    Fascinating irony considering his romance novel ignited western cultures love affair with romanticism.

  29. I absolutely love this cycle "history of ideas". and I wonder why are there so few likes? do people forget to like the videos? or are there so many views and few likes because the same people watch every video many times (like I do)?

  30. this is the movement for the stupid. Fuck reason say the stupid, long live irrationality and feelings shout the reckless.

  31. The Romantics were the precursors of the hippies. These lazy whining poets and their ilk could not have survived without the Enlightenment and industrialization. Well, as Hegel said, parroting Newton, for every action there is a reaction. Good grief Charlie Brown.

  32. order of the universe, reason and a personal God who cares about you. Love of God in your heart and aligning your will to God's is where one no longer needs to feel like Eve but can express his image of God and the order that pertains through art, music and literature. keats knew without this he was better off dead and so we have echoes of God's grace in his poems today. His poetry was a reflection of reason and morality rather than empiricism and feelings. sadly it has been politicised by the enlightenment as excuses to abandon reason, even though it's very nature is in accord with reason.

  33. Could you at some stage do a talk about the move from modernism to postmodernism, and the echo of romanticism that also expressed itself in that process.

  34. Here is your 777th comment #SchoolOfLife from a Young Composer and worldly traveler of time…

    Your video is indeed masterful. In your video I have found Truth.
    Tonight I shall write in my journal "Tonight I am closest to the Truth. Tonight I am closer to the Truth"
    Thank you for sharing this information. Please hear my plea, my humble request, after remembering Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wordsworth, Francisco Goya, Goethe, and the young Thomas Chatterton…. in spirit and all their gifts. Fellow thinkers of Romanticism… I invoke thee now in present day 2019, please find my work on Youtube Channel. Over 130 Videos, find and begin discovering now throughout Europe and throughout the world. I am a Composer and I pursue the arts with all my heart and soul.

    Not postmortem or a hundred years or more, but tonight.. hear my plea and enter the world of the Music that I am creating.
    Listen to the New Orchestra, listen to the band, listen to the Golden Groove and discover all the new works of our time… and yes…. deeply rooted in Romanticism, whether willingly or subconsciously… it has always been so…

    A Gift to the World… starting with you here now, my fellow soul…
    Thank you… eternally

    Love & Freedom

  35. Not to pick nits, Mr. Video, but I don't think "sympathy for maddess is romantic." I think there may be a better 3 syllable word to describe that.

  36. Excellent overview…with one glaring omission: Robert Burns, Scotland’s bard- his “To a Mouse” is quintessential to the Romantic sensibility. This is a fundamental contribution (among many!) from Burns.

  37. Romanticism does not start in 17th century there was romanticism trace back to old times in the east ,this video only shows history of romanticism in America and Europe

  38. I don't think all information in the video is true cuz Chinese poets created romanticism even before the birth of the God.

  39. "The Sorrows of Young Werther"
    I love this video. You must listen to my new song
    A mad composer in the night resolved and did transcribe
    The Song of Angels, on my channel here

    Follow it, and listen. For fans of Romanticism and human history
    Its called "Don't Cast Me Down" Recorded 8/28/19
    and again 9/4/19 in the Temple of Light that I have found
    in the nothingness of the night…

    You must listen to the Song of Angels by Daniel Rivera

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