Pre-Romantic Period

The pre-romantic period is generally considered to be the period of literature and art that preceded the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It covers a broad range of time from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century.

During this time, literature and art were heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, which emphasized reason, science, and the importance of the individual. Many writers of the period, such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, used satire and irony to criticize the social and political structures of their time.

The pre-romantic period was also characterized by a renewed interest in nature and the natural world. This can be seen in the work of poets such as Thomas Gray and William Collins, who wrote about the beauty and majesty of nature.
Pre-Romantic Period
In art, the pre-romantic period was marked by the emergence of the Rococo style, which was characterized by ornate decoration, pastel colors, and a focus on the pleasures of the senses. This style was particularly popular in France and is exemplified by the work of artists such as Antoine Watteau and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

What is the Pre-Romantic Period?

The pre-romantic period, also known as the "Age of Sensibility," refers to a cultural movement in the 18th century that paved the way for Romanticism. This period was characterized by a heightened interest in emotion, sentimentality, and individualism, as well as a rejection of the rationalism and formalism of the Enlightenment.

During the pre-romantic period, literature and the arts began to focus on the individual's inner experience and emotions. Writers such as Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, and Henry Fielding popularized the novel as a form of literature that could explore the complexities of human emotion and psychology.

In music, pre-romantic composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Christoph Willibald Gluck paved the way for the Romantic era's emphasis on individual expression and emotional intensity.

The pre-romantic period also saw the rise of the Gothic genre in literature, with writers such as Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe creating works that explored themes of horror, the supernatural, and the uncanny.

Overall, the pre-romantic period was a time of transition and experimentation in the arts and literature, as artists and writers began to explore new forms of expression that would later become characteristic of the Romantic era.

Characteristics of Pre-Romantic Period

The pre-Romantic period was a transitional phase between the Enlightenment and the Romantic era. During this period, there were several features that characterized the cultural and literary movements of the time. Here are some of the features of the pre-Romantic period:

Emphasis on feeling and emotion: Pre-Romantic writers placed a greater emphasis on individual feeling and emotion, as opposed to reason and logic that characterized the Enlightenment era. They explored the subjective experience of individuals, their inner thoughts and emotions, and their relationship with nature.

Interest in nature and the supernatural: There was a renewed interest in nature, the supernatural, and the mysterious during the pre-Romantic period. Writers and artists sought to explore the natural world, often depicting it in vivid detail, and also explored supernatural and mystical themes.

Gothic literature: The pre-Romantic period saw the emergence of the Gothic genre in literature. Gothic novels, such as The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, explored themes of horror, the supernatural, and the uncanny.

Sentimentality: Pre-Romantic writers and artists embraced sentimentality, which involved an emotional and effective response to art and literature. This was in contrast to the rationalism and objectivity of the Enlightenment.

Interest in folklore and mythology: There was a growing interest in folklore and mythology during the pre-Romantic period. Writers and artists drew on these traditions to explore themes of the supernatural and the mysterious.

Interest in the Middle Ages: Pre-Romantic writers and artists had a renewed interest in the Middle Ages and medieval culture. They explored the romance, chivalry, and heroism of medieval literature and culture.


The pre-Romantic period was marked by a greater emphasis on emotion, nature, and the supernatural, as well as a rejection of the rationalism and objectivity of the Enlightenment. These features would lay the groundwork for the Romantic era that followed.
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