For authors of the time, the Civil War was a moment of transformation. As the country and its literature transitioned from romanticism to realism, groundbreaking poets, former slaves, notable public figures, and ordinary people all contributed their thoughts.
Romanticism is an aesthetic and philosophical movement that began in Europe in the early 19th century and had its highest expression in poetry and music. Poets such as Lord Byron and John Keats wrote poems that were influenced by the belief that nature is purer than technology or civilization can make it. Music was also important to this style of writing, with names like Mozart and Beethoven helping to promote awareness of the genre.
Realism in literature is a mode or school of writing that developed in England and France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This type of storytelling focused on recording actual life as accurately as possible rather than following traditional rules for composition. The modern novel, which is its most recognizable form, was invented by French writers such as Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and Choderlos de Laclos.
The American civil war was one of the most significant events in British history, and it has been suggested that Britain's transition into a realist culture was a response to what was happening within its own borders.
From Romanticism to Realism: America's Literary Transition from Antebellum to Postbellum. This transformation may be linked partly to the Civil War's horrors and the influence they had on the whole American culture. These events caused Americans to seek out alternative modes of expression, including realism and naturalism.
Romanticism is a cultural movement that began in Europe around 1780 and influenced many arts, including literature. It emphasizes emotion over reason and looks for inspiration in nature rather than in society or history. Writers such as William Shakespeare and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe were some of its early proponents.
Realism is an influential literary movement that arose in France around 1820. Like romanticism it focuses on the individual experience, but instead of seeking inspiration from nature, it looks to history for examples to follow. However, realists also include scientific evidence along with historical facts in their writings to present a more accurate picture of reality.
Naturalism is a term used to describe works that are based on actual events or people. This type of writing is known for its objective portrayal of social conditions through extensive use of research material. George Bernard Shaw is credited with coining this word in 1880 to describe the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Its origins in that region may be dated back to the seventeenth century. It dominated the literary landscape in America from roughly 1820 to the conclusion of the Civil War and the birth of Realism. It originated as a response to the preceding period's formal orthodoxy and Neoclassicism. Romanticism introduced emotional expression into literature, often focusing on the individual rather than the community.
Romanticism in America had its roots in the European movement. Many of the leading figures of American Romanticism were also famous poets or writers for other genres in Europe. They included John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley. Romanticism was an outgrowth of Neoclassicism which dominated English literature from 1660 to 1750. The main difference between them is that while Neoclassicists tried to emulate the language and style of ancient Greek and Roman authors, Romantic writers sought to express their own feelings about life and love.
In America, Romanticism lasted from approximately 1820 to 1860. During this time, many important poems were written that dealt with love, nature, politics, and religion. Some of the most famous ones are listed below.
John Keats - "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1820) and "Endymion" (1817)
Many new literary aspects were introduced during the Age of Romanticism. The topic was one such aspect. During the Romantic period, the abolitionists were the writers who most often employed the topic to their benefit. Writers like Frederick Douglass used themes in their writings to explain how they felt during slavery to their readers. These types of essays are known as "exposures." Other topics that authors wrote about include: revolution (both national and personal), injustice, freedom, love, nature, poetry, and religion. Many authors also included their own experiences into their works. This is known as "autobiography."
Romantic writers were generally interested in finding a universal language that could be understood by all people. To do this, they looked at the world around them and what they saw was beauty. They wanted to express this beauty in their writing and so natural phenomena like flowers, sunset, and thunderstorms became important elements in many stories. Also, romantic writers liked to use words that had real meaning for them so poems and novels often included metaphors and other symbolic language. Finally, because society at the time was very class-based, many authors focused on characters who were struggling against all odds to achieve something.
During the Romantic era, literature was not seen as an easy way to make money so many authors took jobs as government clerks or teachers to earn a living. Some famous writers from this time include Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare.