Romanticism vs Classicism : compare difference

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      Romanticism and Classicism are sharply distinguished from each other: in comparison indeed, one is said to be the very antithesis of the other. The distinction does not so much refer to the contents of literature as the manner and approach. The two movements arise from particular phases of national life in different periods.

The temper, again, of the romantic writer, is one of self-possession. No matter what the power of his subject, the classical writer does not fail to assert his mastery over it and over. himself, while the romantic writer seems as though his subject were ever on the point of dazzling and carrying himself. On the one hand there is calm, on the other hand, enthusiasm; the virtues of the one style are strength of grasp and clearness and justice of presentment: the virtues of the other style are glow of spirit and magic and richness of suggestion.
Romanticism vs Classicism

      The distinction between the two has been summed up in an inimitable manner by Prof. Sidney Colvin and we cannot do better than to quote him at length to make the distinction clear. "The distinction between the two is much less of subject than of treatment though to some objects the one mode of treatment is more appropriate, and to some the other. In classical writing every idea is called up to the mind as nakedly as possible, and at the same time as distinctly. It is exhibited in white light and left to produce its effect by its own unaided power. In romantic writing, on the other hand, all objects are exhibited as it were, through a coloured and iridescent atmosphere. Round about every central idea the romantic writer summons up a cloud of accessory and sub-ordinate ideas for the sake of enhancing its effect, if at the risk of the confusing its outlines.

      The temper, again, of the romantic writer, is one of self-possession. No matter what the power of his subject, the classical writer does not fail to assert his mastery over it and over. himself, while the romantic writer seems as though his subject were ever on the point of dazzling and carrying himself. On the one hand there is calm, on the other hand, enthusiasm; the virtues of the one style are strength of grasp and clearness and justice of presentment: the virtues of the other style are glow of spirit and magic and richness of suggestion. Thus Classicism stands for precision, balance, harmony and economy in diction. Imagination and emotion are controlled and disciplined by scrupulous and restrained manner. Romanticism stands for exuberance of emotion and expression, wealth of details, depth of imagination and rich suggestiveness.

      The Elizabethan writers were essentially romantic and some of them extravagantly so. In reaction to it rose the classical school. Milton is said to be the fount-head of that movement. The poets and writers from Dryden to Johnson are the advocates of classicism. These writers lacked what Matthew Arnold called high seriousness'. Their criticism of life is prosaic and not imaginative interpretation of life. These defects of the classical school were more than compensated by the Romantic writers. The Romantic period is an age of reawakening, of imaginative conquest and discovery. Of the variety of the contents of this literature there is no end. New springs of poetic inspiration began to flow in uninterrupted current in the Romantic age and for its beauty and freshness the achievements of the Romantics are great, indeed.

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