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pre-Romanticism


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A general term applied by modern literary historians to a number of developments in late 18th-century culture that are thought to have prepared the ground for Romanticism in its full sense. In various ways, these are all departures from the orderly framework of neoclassicism and its authorized genres. The most important constituents of preromanticism are the Sturm und Drang phase of German literature; the primitivism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of Ossianism; the cult of sensibility in the sentimental novel; the taste for the sublime and the picturesque in landscape; the sensationalism of the early Gothic novels; the melancholy of English graveyard poetry; and the revival of interest in old ballads and romances. These developments seem to have helped to give a new importance to subjective and spontaneous individual feeling. For a fuller account, consult Marshall Brown, Preromanticism (1991).

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