Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction, By Michael Ferber

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The Independent Culture

Possibly the reason that this topic has been left until No.245 in this series is to do with the question of how the hell you define it. Ferber's definition runs to 120 words. You'd highlight: "imagination"; "natural world"; "rebel"; "individual" and "emotional".

The trouble with Romanticism is that its very nature argues against conformity. Take science. Oddly for a medical man, Keats stormed against it alongside the anti-Newtonian Blake, while Shelley engaged in "loud and smelly experiments". But the Romantics provided an enduring template in both image and belief. Wordsworth's "With an eye made quiet with the power of harmony... We see into the life of things" in Tintern Abbey presages the numinous urge of the present day.