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Romanticism literature a movement in the literature of virtually every country of Europe the United States and Latin America that lasted from about 1750 to about 1870 characterized by reliance on the imagination and subjectivity of approach freedom of thought and expression and an idealization of nature The term romantic first appeared in 18th-century English and originally meant romancelikethat is resembling the fanciful character of medieval romancesBy the late 18th century in France and Germany literary taste began to turn from classical and neoclassical conventions Inspiration for the romantic approach initially came from two great shapers of thought French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and German writer Johann Wolfgang von GoetheRousseau established the cult of the individual and championed the freedom of the human spirit his famous announcement was I felt before I thought Goethe and his compatriots philosopher and critic Johann Gottfried von Herder and historian Justus Mser provided more formal precepts and collaborated on a group of essays entitled Von deutscher Art und Kunst Of German Style and Art 1773 In this work the authors extolled the romantic spirit as manifested in German folk songs Gothic architecture and the plays of English playwright William Shakespeare Goethe sought to imitate Shakespeares free and untrammeled style in his Gtz von Berlichingen 1773 translated 1799 a historical drama about a 16th-century robber knight The play which justifies revolt against political authority inaugurated the Sturm und Drang storm and stress movement a forerunner of German romanticism Goethes novel The Sorrows of Young Werther 1774 translated 1779 was also in this tradition One of the great influential documents of romanticism this work exalts sentiment even to the point of justifying committing suicide because of unrequited love The book set a tone and mood much copied by the romantics in their works and often in their personal lives a fashionable tendency to frenzy melancholy world-weariness and even self-destructionThe preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads 1800 by English poets
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