“To Coleridge it seemed more like an issue between propriety and impropriety, congruity and incongruity.In effect he applied the classic norm of decorum,” according to Wimsatt and Brooks.However, because such norms and conventions were associated with rationality—the very target of most Romantic poetry—criticism needed to head in a different direction.
“To Coleridge it seemed more like an issue between propriety and impropriety, congruity and incongruity.In effect he applied the classic norm of decorum,” according to Wimsatt and Brooks.
For neoclassical writers like Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, writing in the 18th century, the essence of poetic creation was mimetic, or imitative. In a 2011 interview, the literary scholar Harold Bloom, who studied with Professor Abrams as an undergraduate, said that “The Mirror and the Lamp” was “a remarkable piece of critical and literary history that describes the transition from mimetic theories of representation to Romantic ideas of creation — what one might call mystical or visionary theories.”“It remains a perpetually useful book,” he said.
In Shakespeare’s famous phrase, the poet held the mirror up to nature. Meyer Howard Abrams, known as Mike, was born on July 23, 1912, in Long Branch, N.
In 1800, in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth issued his famous proclamation about the nature of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” With this statement, Wordsworth posited a very different view of poetry than was standard at the time, shifting the center of attention from the work as a reflection or imitation of reality to the artist, and the artist's relationship to the work.
Poetry would henceforth be considered an expressive rather than a mimetic art.
Abrams makes a similar claim for John Keble's Lectures on Poetry (1844), insisting that they “broach views of the source, the function, and the effect of literature, and of the methods by which literature is appropriately read and criticized, which, when they occur in the writings of critics schooled by Freud, are still reckoned to be the most subversive to the established values and principles of literary criticism.” Despite efforts to position the English Romantics within a continuum of criticism extending from Plato and Aristotle to Jacques Derrida and the post-structuralists, several literary scholars still insist that the theories of Wordsworth and Coleridge were radically different from their predecessors.
Patrick Parrinder claims that their poetry and criticism constituted nothing less than a cultural revolution.Along similar lines, Wellek asserts that the work of German Romanticist Tieck anticipates the theories of Sigmund Freud.“Freud could not have stated more clearly the association of art and lust than did Tieck,” claims Wellek. With fluid ease, Professor Abrams distilled the arguments of philosophers and critics from ancient Greece onward as he delineated a radical shift in aesthetics in the early 19th century, set in motion by poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. Abrams, who transformed the study of Romanticism with the critical histories “The Mirror and the Lamp” and “Natural Supernaturalism,” and who edited the first seven editions of “The Norton Anthology of English Literature,” a virtual Bible in literature survey courses, died on Tuesday in Ithaca, N. On its publication in 1953, “The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition” was greeted as an instant classic.The literary reviews of the early nineteenth century, most notably the Edinburgh Review and the Quarterly Review, participated in the formulation of critical theory as well.Although earlier reviews were little more than advertisements for the books being considered, or “thinly concealed puff for booksellers' wares,” in the words of Terry Eagleton, the change in reviewing style in the Romantic period was not much of an improvement.The Romantic poet/critic thus began to produce criticism that explained and justified not only creativity itself, but also his own creative practices, even his own poetry. Cantor, in his study of twentieth-century attacks on Romantic criticism, acknowledges the self-serving quality of the image put forth by Romantic poets who saw themselves as isolated and inspired geniuses possessed of special gifts unavailable to the masses. and Cleanth Brooks “the primitive, the naïve, the directly passionate, the natural spoken word.” Wordsworth argued that there should be no difference between the language of prose and that of poetry, thus defending his use, within the Lyrical Ballads, of the everyday language of the middle and lower classes.According to this image, explains Cantor, “the artist stands above society as a prophetic visionary, leading it into the future, while free of its past and not engaged in its present activities (in the sense of being essentially unaffected and above all uncorrupted by them.)” In addition to the primacy of the poet, the aesthetic theories associated with Wordsworth and Coleridge in particular, were critical of earlier poets' “poetic diction,” which to the Romantics, was affected and artificial. Wimsatt and Brooks write that “Wordsworth's primitivism was part of a general reaction, setting in well before his own day, against the aristocratic side of neo-classicism.” But where Wordsworth associated poetic diction with artifice and aristocracy and his own poetic language with nature and democracy, Coleridge saw the issue differently.Romantic Literary Criticism English literary criticism of the Romantic era is most closely associated with the writings of William Wordsworth in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria (1817).Modern critics disagree on whether the work of Wordsworth and Coleridge constituted a major break with the criticism of their predecessors or if it should more properly be characterized as a continuation of the aesthetic theories of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century German and English writers.