Contextualization (J.K.)

JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)

HISTORY

  • Continuous development of the British Empire;
  • The War with France (1778-1783): dominion over world markets and trade routes.
  • The French Revolution (1789-1799).

ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

Three social classes:

  • Landowners and aristocracy;
  • Businessmen and industrialists;
  • Masses.

The Agricultural and Industrial revolutions transform Britain into a highly industrialized urban society;

The colonies became a source of cheap raw materials;

Most people lived and worked in dreadful conditions. The idyllic world of nature and fantasy, depicted in literature, became an antidote to the reality of life in the city.

IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:

Romanticism is regarded as a reaction against the scientific and rational Age of the Enlightenment;

Triumph against classicism:

RomanticismClassicism
Imagination
Spontaneity
Originality
Emotional self-expression
Order
Restraint
Objectivity

Announced by the Pre-Romanticism of the 18th century:

  • The Gothic novel (exploration of the irrational);
  • J.J Rousseau (philosopher): questions reason and exalts man’s emotions and imagination;
  • Kant (philosopher): questions the validity of science;
  • “Sturm und Drang”- German literary movement which revolted against literary conventions, believed in the cult of the genius and regarded nature as man’s spiritual environment.

The manifesto of British Romanticism was the preface to “Lyrical Ballads” by William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge and stated that:

  • The language of poetry should be simple “the real language used by men”;
  • The subject of poetry should be “incidents and situations from common life”;
  • The poet’s imagination can reveal the inner truth of common things;
  • Poetry is considered: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility” (W. Wordsworth).

Literary themes:

  • Nature;
  • Imagination;
  • Love;
  • Childhood;
  • The past.

THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK

  • Born in London;
  • Belongs to the 2nd generation of Romantic poets;
  • Had a short, but intense life;
  • Sensory writing, centred on feelings and emotions;
  • His work wasn’t well-received during his lifetime, but became extremely popular after his death;
  • Explored the conflict between the real world of suffering, death, and decay and the ideal world of imagination and eternal youth.

Notable works:

  • “The Eve of St Agnes” – a romantic love story, blending elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Chaucer, and Boccaccio;
  • “Endymion” – a young shepherd whom the moon goddess puts to sleep eternally in order to be able to admire his beauty;
  • “La Belle Dame sans Merci” – a ballad describing the destructive side of idyllic love.