Romantic Literature: In All Its Glory

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” -Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Last week I shared some of my favorite poets during the Romanticism Movement.  Today, I will be sharing some of my favorite authors.  The authors that come to mind when looking at the romantic movement and some of my favorite novels would have to be: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and lastly, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.  There is a specific reason I chose these four works and although there are so many more works of literature that would fit in this category, these would have to be my top four recommendations.

Quick recap- Romanticism was a movement that greatly emphasized the individual and the individual’s relationship to things, especially nature.  The four works I chose I think are great choices and really showcase the movement and all that it stood for.

The first I chose is the short story, The Tell-Tale Heart.  The reason I wanted to discuss this one first is it is the shortest (only about 28 pages in my edition).  This is the story of a man who commits murder and in Poe’s genius, the reader goes into the head of the murderer and his thoughts.  It is not only apart of the Romantic Movement but as well the Gothic Movement.  I do not remember blinking once while reading this, as I couldn’t stop flipping pages until the very end I was so engrossed in reading it.  It is the perfect read for the fall time as well which is when I chose to read it.  Poe is getting inside the head of his protagonist, focusing all attention on that one individual and the choices that lead to his sanity deteriorating right before the reader’s eyes.

Quote:

Now this is the point.  You fancy me mad.  Madmen know nothing”

The next work is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.  This is definitely the second shortest novel (around 90 pages in my edition).  This is the story of a man-Werther, who goes on a journey to find himself, and while doing so writes letters to his friend discussing all the adventures and situations he gets himself into (both romantically and situationally).  It is loosely autobiographical and is usually considered to have influenced the Romantic Movement.  Personally, I believe it was one of the earliest pieces to be considered Romantic in it’s writing style which is why I have included it in this post.  The letter format of the book makes the book a quick read and very accessible.  Goethe’s writing is so irresistible and pleasing it is hard not to enjoy this novel about a man falling in love with a woman he may or not be able to have.

Quote:

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”

The third novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I read this appropriately in the fall time, soon after finishing it, realizing it has little to no connection with Halloween.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Mary Shelley was writing far beyond her time.  Frankenstein is truly a work of genius and I cannot recommend reading this book enough.  I am going to be rereading it for University in a few weeks and cannot begin to express my excitement.  The novel is around 200 pages and I can assure you, it will be difficult to put down.  The novel is about a young man, Victor Frankenstein who using different parts of dead bodies, creates his own creature after a science experience.  The symbolism, diction, imagery, all screams romanticism with not only the focus of the individual, but nature, and the relationship the two have with each other.

Quote:

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”

Last but certainly not least is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.  This book is in my top three favorite books of all time and for good reason.  It is definitely the longest of the four books and truthfully, I wish it went on for a thousand more pages.  My editions vary in page length but it is around 350-400 pages.  This is the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff and the relationship the two uphold.  The reader follows along as the two grow up and form a relationship, unlike anything you will ever read.  At times heartbreaking and at other times triumphant, this novel is one I will reread every year.  It is just that good, trust me.  One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the nature of it. The wind on the moors, the storms, all of it put together makes nature seem like a character in and of itself.  Emily Brontë’s ability to make you feel as though you were right there in the novel with the characters is brilliant and simply no amount of words will do this novel justice.

Quote:

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” 

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All four novels are such accurate and perfectly depicted in regards to the Romanticism Movement and the genius that was created within it.  If you have read any of these novels I would love to hear your thoughts and how they fit into the time period they were written in and romanticism as a whole! Happy Tuesday.

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