Twentieth Century literature is a reassertion of Romantic Movement in a new setting? Comment.answer in detail

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly think that there is some validity to the statement.  The reassertion of the notion of self is of critical importance in 20th Century literature.  The idea of the bildungsroman and the idea that the individual experience can be appreciated in the external is something that the Romantics emphasized.  The idea of the Romantic hero as a protagonist set apart from the cosmopolitan social setting is another Romantic trait that has been exercised in modern literature.  Where I think that the 20th Century really departed from Romanticism would be in the Modernist and Post- Modern movements.  I think that the Romantic tendency to believe its own movement as an example of transcendence is something that one is not going to be find embraced in the work of the Modernists and the Post- Modernists, who, for their part, mocked the idea that totality in any form can really be achieved with absolute certainty.  They found the Romantic transcendence as a "bad habit" of the past.  I would also say that the growth of the individual narrative, especially so after Post World War II possessed some level of questioning the Romantic notions of the good.  The growth of literature from voices that were marginalized brought into question the Romanticist conception of the good.  For example, African- American voices never really found a clear articulation in the Romantic movement, which failed to acknowledge in a legitimate way the experience of what it was like to be socially or economically oppressed.  Women's voices being heard through literature took direct aim at the conception of women offered by thinkers like Byron.  Finally, the emergence of gay and lesbian voices in literature sought to create a niche in the genre that the Romantics never really quite addressed.