06 March 2007

The Romantic Movement

The Romantic Movement has been described as an artistic and intellectual response to the strict discipline and philosophy of the Enlightenment period. Its character, typically, has been expressed in feelings, sentimentality and unrequited love; not reason, technology, fashion or architecture.

This made me wonder if there would ever have been a Romantic Movement without the Industrial Revolution and all the evils that came with it. I use the word evil not with a satanic connotation, but more loosely to indicate the negative side-effects of progress and prosperity, much of which we are enjoying today.

The Industrial Revolution stood for inventions, technology, industry-building, trade, travel and the growth of cities. It brought to us goods – and even services, like banking – which made life better for us, easier for us, safer for us. Life advanced; a new civilisation was built. Yet, this advance isolated us from nature and the natural world. It took us away from the purity and simplicity of a good and happy life.

Perhaps we, or some of us, felt threatened by this change in our lives – threatened by this loss of connection or attachment with nature. And, perhaps, this loss was grief enough for us to turn to nature and its expression in poetry, literature, music and art. Perhaps, it was this collective grief which really created the Romantic Movement – and not mere feelings, sentimentality and unrequited love which is what is typically attributed to it.

Perhaps, the Romantic Movement was just a response to those values which were lacking in our lives – and in our society – at that period of time. And, perhaps, it was the Romantic Movement which made life more enduring for us.

No comments: