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In a Nutshell Ah, romance.
Bouquets of roses, Valentine's Day treats, smooching over a candlelight dinner…
Okay, did you get that out of your system? Good. Because for the rest of this guide, you're going to throw all your associations with romance out the window and buckle down on what Romanticism is really about.
That's' right: the Romantics were a group of poets writing and publishing in the late 18th and early 19th century. The Romantic movement moved through all of Europe and Russia, and, almost simultaneously, changed the entire course of American literature -and their poetry didn't start with "roses are red."
Why do we call them "Romantics," then, if these guys weren't, you know, romantic? Well, we use the term "romantic" because they were really into emotions: happiness, sadness, joy, loneliness…you know the drill. They got especially emotional about nature—a lot of their emotions were inspired by natural goodies…as opposed to a really sexy shade of lipstick. They were coming off the heels of the Enlightenment, when folks decided to value reason over emotion, and they were not cool with it.
Among England's great Romantic writers are William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Sir Walter Scott.
Dark Romanticism is a form of literature that uses the mysterious and dark settings characteristic of Romanticism as a whole in ways that are often threatening and scary. Dark Romantic settings are Gothic in nature--that is, they involve the use of horror and are threatening in nature. Dark Romanticism also seeks to expose the darkness or sins inherent in all humans.
What else set them apart? They were unconventional. Since they believed in being true to their emotions, they refused to be constrained by social or literary or political conventions—conventions of any kind, for that matter. They were rebellious, they were individualistic…and their writing reflected it. They were all about poetic experimentation, which means that the most important Romantic writers revolutionized the way poetry was written.