Romanticism was a great source of inspiration for French literature. It brought to birth the use of strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience staging its focus on these emotions as horror fright and trepidation.
Romanticism to a great respect pays tribute to works of great thinkers of the evolutionary period including Erasmus Darwin and Charles Darwin as well as the infamous Adam Smith’s emergent order of the free market. It has also been said to have been influenced by the pressure for rapid chance paired with turbulence of the egalitarianism associated with the revolutionary period in philosophy (Reuben 2011).
Romanticism from the first half of the century dominated French literature with particular respects to prose fiction, theater and poetry. The upshot of the Romantic Movement spilled into the latter half of the century creating impulse in other literary developments such as realism and symbolism. It was the wakeup call for revolution at the beginning of the 19th century and a sound of establishment at the close of it.
Its key ideas were expressed in Folklore and Popular Art, Nationalism, Shakespeare, The Gothic Romance, Medievalism, Emotion, Exoticism, Individualism and Religion Romanticism bears the burden of several counter-movements, such as realism, neo-classicism and impressionism but yet still keeping abreast with progress. The romantic impulse was however never meant to be replaced by any of them. (Fay 2002)
The main elements that have been said to describe romanticism include: optimism, experimentation mingling of races and the hype of industrialization. It brought to stage science and institutionalization along with the plight of the rising number of immigrants in continents such as Europe and the new world. Of particular interest was the quest for beauty, keen interest in nature in its external self, escapism and fancifulness.
Romanticism was not entirely a rational faction. It lacked in great respects the kind of programmatic distinctiveness apparent in the Enlightment period. Even so it had a great impact in humanity at large.
From past literatures, realism was one of many attempts try to communicate to the community at large. It was brought up by the development of social sciences commerce and industrialism and with specific compliments to biology. Realism was not an entirely anti romanticism, the line is dawn its profound concern for historical periods and forces. Its advocates were historians such as George Sand Honore de Balzac and Jules Michelet.
Various writings in this period, sought audience in newspapers and therefore the tendency was to focus on portraying the trends of the concealed side of city life such as crime, criminal slang and police spies. Besides the melodrama, bourgeois and popular theater of the mid-century that realism turned into, it still maintained a following that spilled into the 20th century (Canuel 2002).
Modern writers were of the opinion that realism gave too much prominence to reality in its external self. It sprung up as a critique of the romantic era and was an answer to the orthodox demands of art to demonstrate life as it evidently ought to be in order to show it as it is. This approach assumes that in the quest to use language as a key to understanding life there will be in existence an open and personal relation between the subject matter and the person. This in effect campaigns for an ideological construction of what is real.
Symbolism in so far as its principles go, advocates for themes that appeal to philosophy of will, fate and cataleptic forces. Themes such as sex alcohol, narcotics and even at times formless medieval scenery that characterized the attitude of symbolism have made a tremendous impression on the symbolist procedure. The tone suggests realism imagination and irony that is so often isolated from moral and ethical ideas.
It takes a twist in poetry by its suggestion that instead of precise statements poets should use subtle suggestions to bring to mind mood and feeling with the aid of enchantment repetition of sounds and words as well as the rhythm of verse and innovation. Some have found it wise to engage free verse alongside, leitmotifs and the perception medieval scenery. Symbolism has been viewed as a conciliation of the profound interest in the confines of words as an attempt at unfolding the world.
Modernism in the 20th century literary context is a description of contemporary thinking character and practice. It is to a great extent a defection from the rather conservative realist faction and the rather reserved Enlightment thinking. It distinguishes its self by detaching from the conventional influence of religion. This is not to say that it entirely rejects religious adaptations but rather takes a stand on a rather self conscious ground that has its foundation on experiments with form.
It is a more qualitative rather than chronological faction that hardly fits into an abstract form (Cope 2001).
It therefore is distinct from aspects of false rationality coherence and harmony of Enlightment thinking. In a strict sense it is a broad cultural evaluation of history in contrast to modernity. The acknowledgement of the even more conspicuous fact that the world growing into complexity that will not hesitate to criticize historical authorities that were previously undisputable.
Canuel, Mark. Religion, Toleration, British Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2002
Fay, Elizabeth. Romantic Medievalism: History and the Romantic Literary Ideal. Palgrave. Macmillan.2002
Reuben, Paul. Early Nineteenth Century and Romanticism – A Brief Introduction PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. 4.03.2011Retrieved on 4.3.2011 from http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap3/3intro.html