Few, if any, movements in the history of our literature have been as complex, or as consistently the center of controversy, as has English Romanticism. No two observers see precisely the same thing when they look at it; indeed, no two Romantics saw it in quite the same way. “There are many Romanticisms,” wrote the critic and scholar A. O. Lovejoy. In his Guide through the Romantic Movement, Ernest Bernbaum listed twenty-eight definitions of Romanticism (which he claimed to have “selected from many hundreds” propounded by distinguished critics and authors), all of them defensible, none of them easily reconciled with another. Though, as M. H. Abrams has observed, “[t]he Age of Romanticism . . . ushered in the modern world,” Romanticism has become a stickier topic in the twentieth century than ever before; the classically oriented New Critics— who preferred irony and paradox to the...

 
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