Modern Painters - February 2011 by Benjamin Genocchio (Editor)

By Benjamin Genocchio (Editor)

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By proposing that wickedness was a product of culture rather than an essential human trait, Romanticism attacked the idea of intrinsic evil at its root, and overturned it once and for all. And by doing so it gave the arts, politics, and education the individualistic cast they retain to this day. Victorianism, Modernism, and Postmodernism did not supersede Romanticism, they elaborated it; the seeds of these purportedly independent artistic movements were in fact sown by the Romantic revolution, which, by its very nature, is continually in progress.

But to view Romanticism as merely a superannuated tradition both drastically undervalues the degree to which it broke with the past and overlooks its ubiquity in our own day. Romanticism is not just the background to Victorianism or the source of some quaint and outmoded notions about artmaking against which the Modernist and Postmodernist feel it necessary to rebel. Romanticism is a breakthrough, a cognitive upheaval, the result of which was to set in motion the intellectual and social processes that brought the contemporary world into being.

Indd 35 4/21/2008 6:00:37 PM 36 From Bl a k e to the Be atles indulged privately. ”23 What is recognized today as the English ballad revival that reached into Wordsworth’s lifetime began in 1760, when Percy’s Reliques and Macpherson’s Fragments of Ancient Poetry, the first volume of the Ossian poems, both appeared. The wide popularity of both books spawned a literary fad that picked up speed as Wordsworth matured from boy to man. In 1769, David Herd’s The Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc.

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