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A History Of English Romanticism In The Eighteenth Century

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A History Of English Romanticism In The Eighteenth Century

To Attempt At The Outset A Rigid Definition Of The Word _Romanticism_
Would Be To Anticipate The Substance Of This Volume. To Furnish An
Answer To The Question--What Is, Or Was, Romanticism? Or, At Least, What
Is, Or Was English Romanticism?--Is One Of My Main Purposes Herein, And
The Reader Will Be Invited To Examine A Good Many Literary Documents, And
To Do A Certain Amount Of Thinking, Before He Can Form For Himself Any
Full And Clear Notion Of The Thing. Even Then He Will Hardly Find
Himself Prepared To Give A Dictionary Definition Or Romanticism. There
Are Words Which Connote So Much, Which Take Up Into Themselves So Much Of
The History Of The Human Mind, That Any Compendious Explanation Of Their
Meaning--Any Definition Which Is Not, At The Same Time, A Rather Extended
Description--Must Serve Little Other End Than To Supply A Convenient Mark
Of Identification. How Can We Define In A Sentence Words Like
Renaissance, Philistine, Sentimentalism, Transcendental, Bohemia,
Pre-Raphaelite, Impressionist, Realistic? _Definitio Est Negatio_. It
May Be Possible To Hit Upon A Form Of Words Which Will Mark Romanticism
Off From Everything Else--Tell In A Clause What It Is _Not_; But To Add A
Positive Content To The Definition--To Tell What Romanticism _Is_, Will
Require A Very Different And More Gradual Process.

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