The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



ideological and stylistic trends in Western European literature of the second half of the 18th and early 19th centuries; in the fine arts the movement existed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

A precursor of romanticism, preromanticism retained some motifs and ideas of the literature of sentimentalism, such as an appeal to feeling, a defense of a natural existence, and a poetization of peaceful nature. However, these were ideologically disparate schools: sentimentalism merely criticized the rationalism of the Enlightenment, while preromanticism marked the beginning of a total and uncompromising rejection of rationalism.

The tentative, transitional nature of preromanticism was evident in the literary work of the preromantics, who are often identified either with romanticism (W. Blake) or sentimentalism (J. H. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre). Preromanticism emerged alongside the third estate and was permeated with an enthusiastic self-determination and affirmation of the individual. These traits are found in J. Cazotte’s The Enamored Devil and to a certain extent in the works of the Marquis de Sade. During the period preceding the French Revolution, preromanticism in France took on a civic and antifeudal tone.

Preromanticism developed most characteristically and fully in England. In response to the crisis of the Enlightenment consciousness, English preromanticism deliberately recalled former times, as can be seen in the literary fabrications of T. Chatterton and J. MacPherson, in the return to folk literature, exemplified by the songs and ballads of T. Percy and A. Ramsay, and in the creation of the Gothic novel by such writers as A. Radcliffe. Poetically revealing the emotional element and delving deeply into it, English preromanticism shifted the focus to sudden changes in individual human destiny. Akin to preromanticism’s fascination with the Middle Ages was a revival of interest in the “barbarous” Shakespeare as a model of true poetry (E. Young’s “Conjectures on Original Composition,” 1759). Bourgeois progress was criticized in Young’s “graveyard poetry” (“The Complaint, or Night Thoughts,” 1742–45) and in T. Gray’s melancholy “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.”

Preromanticism also appeared in the literatures of the USA, Hungary, Italy, and Spain. In Russia, the trend did not attain full expression: there, the literary syncretism of the late 18th century —the concurrent presence of different ideological and literary tendencies—reduced preromanticism to separate occurrences in the poetry of G. R. Derzhavin, N. I. Gnedich, and V. A. Zhukovskii.

In the fine arts, preromanticism’s transformation into romanticism itself was much more natural. Here the trend also strove to individualize images and was drawn to dramatic motifs and strongly expressive forms; in addition, it often had a civic tone.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The same cannot be said for Caribbean narratives by white women travelers, however, and surely these, too, were part of the soup of Romantic themes and issues that influenced and helped constitute Wordsworth's powerful narrative of a literature that was, in fact, highly conscious of its genre-bending and blending rather than "literature that is too often treated as merely transitional, or subsumed into Preromanticism," and in need of a discovery of its "formal distinctiveness" (3).
--, "Preromanticism, or Sensibility: Defining Ambivalences." Companion to European Romanticism.
In terms of artistry and, arguably so, poetic genius, the three poets (Samuel Johnson, Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe) whose biographies we have examined come first in their respective classes: preromanticism, romanticism and late romanticism; and so do they in their respective (psycho)pathologies.
He was acquainted with the Jenaer Romantikerkreis: natural philosophers Schelling and Oken, leaders of preromanticism in Jena brothers Schlegel, a "romantic physicist" and co-founder of electrochemistry Ritter, and many other outstanding personalities.
A worn out tag bearing what most critics would call a simple-minded teleological view of literary history, "preromanticism" has long been banished from responsible critical discourse.
Taken as a whole with its own critical grandeur and authority, Preromanticism may not for many readers be entirely worth the considerable effort of attention it demands.
On the one hand, therefore, in Preromanticism cognition takes precedence over coercion as the object of literary history; on the other hand, the "well-wrought urn" is translated into a kind of fluid process that is itself a decisive part of the tidal movements of human consciousness (75-77).
The choice of the title, without any qualifications, is somewhat provocative: "preromanticism" is a thing that most American academics had given up on.
Preromanticism. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1991 Cohen, Michael.
(9.) See Brown, Preromanticism (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1991).
It could be that Barbauld showed up on the average academic radar screen later than did Smith, notwithstanding the intellectual trajectories of individual romanticists, or possibly that the Stuart Curran edition of Smith is somehow easier to obtain than the William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft edition of Barbauld, or that Barbauld falls even more into the Sensibility/ Preromanticism camp than might Smith.