This week we are discussing Ayn Rand's essay "What Is Romanticism?"
Britannica explains romanticism as the "rejection of the precepts of
order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that
typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in
particular. It was also to some extent a reaction against the
Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical
materialism in general. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the
subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the
spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental."
In one college book on literature Romanticism is defined through a
list of characteristics: "sensibility; primitivism; love of nature;
sympathetic interest in the past, especially the medieval; mysticism;
individualism; romanticism criticism; and a reaction against whatever
In many online dictionaries it is defined as: "An artistic and
intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century
and characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the
individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the
attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established
social rules and conventions."
Ayn Rand would not define such an important concept as Romanticism by
such superficial means, however.
Her definition is: "A category of art based on the recognition of the
principle that man possesses the faculty of volition."
Though many definitions explain one aspect of Romanticism is the
individual, they also specify it as a category of "emotionalism." Why
does Ayn Rand give free-will primacy in her definition? How can we
properly understand Romanticism as a broad category? And how can we
understand Ayn Rand's own fiction within this category?
Discuss this and much more this coming monday on the Auraria Campus
from 6-8pm. And, as usual, we will be hanging out downtown after the