How can we compare Romantic literature with Postmodern literature?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the basic starting point in comparing both is the belief of transcendental qualities.  Simply put, Romantic literature believed that that the externalization of the subjective represents a transcendental end.  In this light, Romantic literature placed a great deal of emphasis on the subjective experience, believing that if others embraced it a sense of the universal would be evident.  This is seen in the poetic works of the Romantic writers, where thinkers like Wordsworth and Keats authentically believed that the divulging of their own experiences possesses, at its core, a universal quality.  I think that Postmodern literature departs from this point.  The Postmodern thinker is not so concerned with the transcendental experience.  The Postmodern writer has seen the failures of the transcendent.  Fascist regimes like Hitler were rooted in the subjective experience being universalized.  The transcendent for the Postmodern thinker is the fear of the atomic bomb, something that denies subjective experience in making the world better.  Rather, the Postmodern thinker is more concerned with the individual articulation of what consciousness is.  In this, there is not a seeking to forge transcendent links, but rather articulation of individual modes of being in the world.  The Romantic thinker would not be able to appreciate or fully grasp this individual articulation without a transcendent or unifying end, which is something that defines the very essence of an intellectual home for the Postmodern believer.  In this, I think that a fundamental difference between both forms of logic is evident.

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