The Romantic Period section of Norton Topics Online offers resources for the exploration of three of the most important influences on Romantic thought: the picturesque splendour of the British landscape, the sinister atmosphere of the Gothic, and the apocalyptic expectations aroused by the French Revolution.

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Romantic Period with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Seventh Edition (anthology page references for the new Seventh Edition are included below):

Tintern Abbey, Tourism and Romantic Landscape

William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey NAEL7.2.235
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison NAEL7.2.420
  Frost at Midnight NAEL7.2.457
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alastor NAEL7.2.702
  Mont Blanc NAEL7.2.720
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage NAEL7.2.563
John Keats, To Autumn NAEL7.2.872
Dorothy Wordsworth, The Alfoxden Journal NAEL7.2.385
  The Grasmere Journals NAEL7.2.387
Sir John Denham, Cooper's Hill NAEL7
John Ruskin, Of the Pathetic Fallacy NAEL7.2.1430

Tintern Abbey, Tourism and Romantic Landscape illustrates the Romantics' developing interest in nature, as background not only to Tintern Abbey and other poems by William Wordsworth but to Coleridge's conversation poems, Dorothy Wordsworth's journals, Percy Shelley's Alastor and Mont Blanc, Byron's Childe Harold, and Keats's To Autumn, among others. This topic cluster features paintings and prose descriptions of Tintern Abbey and the Lake District which provide the basis for comparisons with poetic evocations of these landscapes. Looking forward in time, students may wish to evaluate the contents of this section in light of Ruskin's idea of the pathetic fallacy, or, looking backward to the seventeenth century, trace the development of nature poetry from Denham's Cooper's Hill.

Literary Gothicism

George Gordon, Lord Byron, Manfred NAEL7.2.588
  Don Juan NAEL7.2.621
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein NAEL7.2.905
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner NAEL7.2.422
  Christabel NAEL7.2.441
John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes NAEL7.2.834
Thomas De Quincey, The Pains of Opium NAEL7.2.535
Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám NAEL7.2.1305
John Milton, Paradise Lost NAEL7.1.1815

Literary Gothicism introduces a genre which both influenced Romantic poetry and, in its day, far outstripped it in popularity. This topic cluster provides crucial background to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; signs of Gothic influence also appear in some of the most frequently read works of Coleridge, Byron, and Keats. The fascination with the Orient which characterizes Gothic works such as Vathek can be traced in the later works of Byron and Fitzgerald. The sub-section on "The Satanic and Byronic Hero" reveals how the villain of Milton's Paradise Lost came to be seen by the Romantic poets and their followers in a very different light.

The French Revolution: Apocalyptic Expectations

William Wordsworth, The Prelude NAEL7.2.303
William Blake, A Song of Liberty NAEL7.2.82
  A Vision of the Last Judgment NAEL7.2.85
Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Song: "Men of England" NAEL7.2.727
  England in 1819 NAEL7.2.728
  To Sidmouth and Castlereagh NAEL7.2.728
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman NAEL7.2.166
William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age [Mr. Wordsworth] NAEL7.2.509
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus NAEL7.2.1077
  The French Revolution NAEL7.2.1103
Gerrard Winstanley, The True Levelers' Standard Advanced NAEL7.1.1739
Abiezer Coppe, A Fiery Flying Roll NAEL7.1.1747
William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming NAEL7.2.1880

The French Revolution: Apocalyptic Expectations provides an introduction to what Shelley called "the master theme of the epoch in which we live." A companion to the section on The French Revolution and the "Spirit Of The Age" in the Norton Anthology (Seventh Edition), this topic cluster emphasizes the apocalyptic expectations which led the first generation of Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake) to regard the French Revolution as a prelude to the end of history, heralding a new epoch or a return to paradise. The texts gathered here also shed light on Shelley's radical poetry, and will allow students to assess the influence of the Revolution on writers as diverse as Wollstonecraft, Hazlitt, and Carlyle. The apocalyptic expectations of the Romantic poets resonate with the earlier writings of Winstanley and Coppe, as well as with the twentieth-century poetry of Yeats; students wishing to discover more about the importance of millenarian ideas in English history may also explore the The Meaning of the Millennium: Apocalyptic Visions and Revisions in the Twentieth Century section of Norton Topics Online.

Romantic Orientalism

William Blake, The Little Black Boy NAEL7.2.45
  The Tyger NAEL7.2.54
  The Book of Thel NAEL7.2.59
William Wordsworth, The Prelude NAEL7.2.342
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner NAEL7.2
  Kubla Khan NAEL7.2.439
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage NAEL7.2.563
  Manfred NAEL7.2.588
  Don Juan NAEL7.2.621
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab, Alastor NAEL7.2.702
  Mont Blanc NAEL7.2.720
  Hymn to Intellectual Beauty NAEL7.2.723
  Ozymandias NAEL7.2.725
  The Indian Girl's Song NAEL7.2.729
  Prometheus Unbound NAEL7.2.732
John Keats, Endymion NAEL7.2.829
  The Eve of St. Agnes NAEL7.2.841
  Lamia NAEL7.2.856
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein NAEL7.2.903

The Romantic Period in Britain is now recognized as a time of global travel and exploration, accession of colonies all over the world, and development of imperialist ideologies that rationalized the British takeover of distant territories. Romantic Orientalism provides additional background materials to enhance the reading of Romantic poems and fictions and suggest how those poems and fictions connect with the political and social concerns of their real-life historical contexts.


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