Romanticism and genius

Go down

Romanticism and genius

Post by taixyz1992 on Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:55 am

Edward Young's Conjectures on Original Composition (1759) was the most significant reformulation of "genius" away from "ability" and toward the Romantic concept of "genius" as seer or visionary. His essay influenced the Sturm und Drang German theorists, and these influenced Coleridge's Biographia Literaria. The Romantics saw genius as superior to skill, as being far above ability. James Russell Lowell would say "talent is that which is in a man's power: genius is that in whose power a man is" (quoted in Brogan). The emphasis on Gothic literature, on the sublime in general, and the poet as spokesman of a nation's consciousness allowed the declining meaning of "genius" as "natural spirit of the place" and the emergent meaning of "genius" as "inherent and irrational ability" to combine. At the same time, Romanticism's definition of genius as a person driven by a force beyond his or her control and as an ability that surpasses the natural and exceeds the human mind makes it virtually identical with the Classical notion of divine madness or frenzy.

With the incorporation of Sigmund Freud's theories of poetic madness and the irrationality of imagination deriving from the subconscious, "genius" in poetry entered 20th century critical parlance as, again, something inherent in the writer. The writer was special and set aside from others by "genius," which might be a psychic wound or a particular formation of the ego but which was nonetheless unique to that particular person and was the critical feature that made that person an artist. Irving Babbitt's writings discuss the genius in the Modernist view. Again, genius is something above skill, something that cannot be explained, contained, or diagnosed.

Since Modernism's decline, "genius" has faded somewhat from critical discussions. As writing has focused on its own media and writers have focused on process (e.g. the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets and post-modernism), the belief in a special trait that makes the artist above the run of humanity, and more particularly the view that skill is inferior to imagination, has been in decline. However, there is an emergent concept of genius associated with the culture of certain contemporary literary circles. Such an image of genius is often defined in opposition to the figure of the critic, the former being more independent and spontaneous in their thought, the later being more self-reflective but consequently restricted to responding to, rather than creating, enduring cultural artifacts. The earliest version of this formulation is to be found in Lessing's commentary on Kant's notion of genius. Kant scholar Jane Kneller articulates the subtlety of his distinction by explaining "genius demonstrates its autonomy not by ignoring all rules, but by deriving the rules from itself."[1]

Casino Board
nfl football betting

Sleeping Sun
Sleeping Sun

Number of posts : 63
Points :
0 / 1000 / 100

Registration date : 2010-09-19

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum