Scott Masson

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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‘Romanticism’ is notoriously difficult to define. Romantic writing characteristically strives to transcend all bounds, all definition. Romanticism's longing to overcome discord and fragmentation suggests that human redemption and eschatological fulfilment on earth lay within the power of the artist. The Romantic narrative is not simply one of Messianic fulfilment though, for its belief in the ‘natural’ benefit of organic creative processes to society indefinitely forestalls any such conclusion. In fact, in its basic tendency to reject order and harmony as a sign of unenlightened, ‘naïve’ thinking, Romanticism also opposed the authoritative and the orthodox. This article argues that this is the root of Romanticism: that man, the individual, is an infinite reservoir of possibilities; and if one can rearrange society by the destruction of the oppressive order, then these possibilities will have a chance and one gets Progress.

Keywords: Romanticism; Enlightenment; Progress; Romantic writing; human redemption; theology

Article.  7955 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies

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