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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

18 - Romanticism and poetic autonomy

from Part III - Histories: Writing in the New Movements
The symbiotic growth of critical and literary self-consciousness is so striking a feature of the Romantic period that many participants and many subsequent commentators have thought it the historical key to understanding Romanticism. The critical dynamic is most conspicuously in play in that commonplace of Romanticism, on whose existence very different schools of interpretation have continued to agree: its insistence on the autonomy of poetry. Poetic autonomy could refer to a distinctive use of language inappropriate in any other discourse. Poetic and critical establishments interacted to the mutual enhancement of each other's authority. The dialectic between poetry and criticism has a continuing relevance. Romantic poetry's radicalism can appear undeniable: fundamentally, this art presents itself as essentially committed to innovation and transformation. The act of criticism or of bringing to reflection is the hallmark of Romantic philosophical activity from Kant to Hegel. The autonomy of poetry advocated by Romanticism was advanced on several fronts.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
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