What part did it play in shaping, art, nationalism, culture, in Europe ?
Goldsmiths poem, The deserted village.
One of Romanticism's key ideas and most enduring legacies is the assertion of nationalism, which became a central theme of Romantic art and political philosophy. From the earliest parts of the movement, with their focus on development of national languages and folklore, and the importance of local customs and traditions, to the movements which would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for "self-determination" of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key vehicles of Romanticism, its role, expression and meaning.
Early Romantic nationalism was strongly inspired by Rousseau, and by the ideas of Johann Gottfried von Herder, who in 1784 argued that the geography formed the natural economy of a people, and shaped their customs and society.
The nature of nationalism changed dramatically, however, after the French Revolution, with the rise of Napoleon, and the reactions in other nations. Napoleonic nationalism and republicanism were, at first, inspirational to movements in other nations: self-determination and a "consciousness" of national unity were held to be two of the reasons why France was able to defeat other countries in battle. But as the French Republic became Napoleon's Empire, Napoleon became not the inspiration for nationalism, but the object of it. In Prussia, the development of spiritual renewal as a means to engage in the struggle against Napoleon was argued by, among others, Johann Gottlieb Fichte a disciple of Kant. The word Volkstum, or nationality, was coined in German as part of this resistance to the now conquering emperor. Fichte expressed the unity of language and nation in his address "To the German Nation" in 1806:
One of the key aspects of romanticism is the presentation of heroes and villains.
Heroes - to present man as he ought to be.
Villains - to present man as he ought not to be.
2) The struggle between the good and evil is an important theme
3) Man is presented as volitional i.e. it is his choices that dictate whether he is good or evil.
As evidence, look at the whole Romantic literature and art e.g. Victor Hugo, Ayn Rand, the painting on wikipedia's page presenting man as an adventurer, Beethoven's music which presents a violent conflict and resolution, poems like "The Westerner" by Badger Clark, or even Harry Potter.
The Enlightenment in England
Meanwhile Great Britain had developed its own Enlightenment, fostered by thinkers like the English thinker John Locke, the Scot David Hume, and many others. England had anticipated the rest of Europe by deposing and decapitating its king back in the 17th century. Although the monarchy had eventually been restored, this experience created a certain openness toward change in many places that could not be entirely extinguished. English Protestantism struggled to express itself in ways that widened the limits of freedom of speech and press. Radical Quakers and Unitarians broke open old dogmas in ways that Voltaire was to find highly congenial when he found himself there in exile. The English and French Enlightenments exchanged influences through many channels, Voltaire not least among them.
Because England had gotten its revolution out of the way early, it was able to proceed more smoothly and gradually down the road to democracy; but English liberty was dynamite when transported to France, where resistance by church and state was fierce to the last possible moment. The result was ironically that while Britain remained saturated with class privilege and relatively pious, France was to become after its own revolution the most egalitarian and anticlerical state in Europe--at least in its ideals. The power of religion and the aristocracy diminished gradually in England; in France they were violently uprooted.
One of the saddest features with Romanticism, IMO, is the neurotic portrayal of the artist as a rarefied soul and lofty genius, whose concerns and art should not be judged by the vulgar masses.
This trend has been pushed into its pathetic extreme nowadays, where self-appointed artists slap each other's backs over "artwork" that has nil significance for anyone else but themselves.
Just so did the "Scotch reviewers" describe Shelley, Keats, and Byron. Quid custodet?
True enough. But it has gone, for example, 70 years since "Finnegan's Wake" was published. Isn't it time to throw it in the dustbin?
But the artist is a rare soul and great artists are lofty geniuses. As for the fact that art should not be judged by the vulgar masses, while I agree that majority support does not mean that a piece of art is great, I haven't seen the argument in romanticism that ordinary people cannot judge works of art.
Actually today's art is not Romanticism but abstractism, cubism and naturalism generally.
Bite your tongue! I LIKE that book. A whole novel made of puns and anagrams. I'll bet you don't like Tristram Shandy either!
And recall that Gell-Mann got the name "quark" out of Finnegan's Wake. "Three quarks for muster mark". A really nice parlay by both Joyce and Gell-Mann, if you think of seagulls, the plan of the book, and the original Eightfold Way diagram.
As you like it, the masses will be the judge, but it seems to me that there is some cleaver trash, and some base brilliance out there.
I have gotten more holes in it here at PF than anywhere else. Do you think I should suffer one more?
How nice. Does that make it into great art, like Sophocles, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky who actually knew how to write a good STORY?
Quite right, I never got much further than reading about his uncle's hobby-horse.
I like Mark Twain, and Jonathan Seagull better.
I always thought Shakespeare's stories were kind of lame. How much dumber could Romeo and Juliet have been? It is his insight into people that continues to amaze me. As for Dostoyevski, I read Crime and Punishment and it was OK, but I wouldn't call it great (that may have been the translation, of course). And my experience with Brothers Karamazover was like yours with Tristram Shandy. So tastes differ.
BTW I prefer Euripides to Sophocles.
What makes them more rarefied than say, a good carpenter?
Prior to Romanticism (and in much else of the world still) an artist is simply a craftsman within his field. Some are good, some are bad, there's no particular "artistic sentiment" that distinguishes artists from other craftsmen.
Read, say, Novalis, to see how much this view differs from that of a Romanticist.
Good art requires the use of the MIND much more than good carpentry.
Just like inventing an engine requires much more skill and use of the MIND than a laborer building it using already existing designs.
Just like a good inventor is much more rare than a good laborer, a good artist is much more rare than a good carpenter.
Why do you think that?
He used his mind.
Separate names with a comma.