Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Classics Club March Meme: Favourite Literary Period

It has been ages since the last time I participated on the Classics Club Monthly Meme. My fault. This month's question, however, intrigues me so much that I can't help but participating. The question is:

What is your favorite “classic” literary period and why?

How do I answer? It's funny how my reading preferences are scattered so much that I don't know any more the period that I love "the most". For example, I love Shakespeare, so, so much that I think I would prefer him to any other writer alive or dead. Having said that, I can't choose his period as my favourite period, because as much as I love Shakespeare, I know little (if nothing) about his contemporaries, such as Ben Johnson, Thomas Nashe, Robert Greene, or any other. I only know a bit more about Kit Marlowe (which I love, by the way) and about Sir Walter Raleigh (which I also love truly). If I'm allowed to widen the period a bit longer, I can only add Milton to the list, and I haven't even completed reading Paradise Regained.

So much for Shakespeare's period.

So to answer the question above, after considering all parties involved, I must say that I prefer Romanticism. Actually, the idea came from Fanda a long time ago. She noticed that I love stories from that period, such as Monte Cristo and D'Artagnan Romances. After thinking about it, I realise that probably she was right. Here's my argument.

If you see the list of authors on the left side of my blog, you'll notice that most of the names belong to Romantic writers. Not just that, most of my posts talk about them or their works. So statistically, I babble much about Romantic writers.

When we talk about Romanticism that I like, we don't talk about Romanticism in England, or France, or US, or Russia. I love them all. From England, my favourite poet of that period is the young John Keats, while Sir Walter Scott will do for the historical fiction stories. And we haven't even talked about Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters. In France, as mentioned before, I'm very fond of Dumas. But he's not the only one. Victor Hugo is also a giant in France Romantic movement, and his name must not be forgotten when we talk about French Literature. Suddenly I remember that almost every book from French authors that I read comes from this period of literary history. Oh, US. Can't we just talk about Edgar now? Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favourite poet (although his creepy stories is not really my forte). One more country. I'm not an expert when it comes to Russian Literature, yet it is safe to say that I like Pushkin very much. His poems, translated into English, was my first contact to anything Russian, and his poem "I loved you" is like a chant that sticks in my mind.

So, it turns out that my favourite period of Literature is:


I will tell you why.

In prose, Romanticism tends to go a bit wider than the story. It has the narrative that sort of flows through the pages, as if the writer were putting down anything that came to his/her mind at the moment, without caring too much about the story itself. It is less deliberate in its story-telling, it doesn't mind too much the symbolism (I might be wrong on this) as literature had been in the Renaissance, for example. The stories in Romanticism is more and more focused into "life as we know it", not too much centred on palaces or myths. In fact, people started to think about history - actual human history - instead of legends and ancient lores, and just usual, lowly people, as is the case in Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances and Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.

As is the case with prose, poetry in Romanticism is also less deliberate and more 'free' in rhyme and rhythm. The effect is the search for the perfect 'form' of poetry - people experimenting with rhymes and with forms. What I like is that they still retain the 'archaic'-ness of the previous age, and thus keep the magic of poetry intact, while giving it new spirit and fresh air.

In poetry, Romanticism cannot be separated from the word "Melancholy". Actually I found that out in a website. I've been looking for the right word all along, but at last the word 'melancholy' ended my search. Romantic poems are unique in their serenity and tranquillity. Poems like The Raven and Annabel Lee, along with Keats' Odes, sound almost like somebody whispering alone to the air. The simplicity of the diction must be noted too. While I love sophisticated words in Shakespeare's plays and poems, I find simple words in Romantic poems sweet, and somehow feel more sincere.

All above is just my opinion. I have warned you, I'm not even a Lit Student, so I might be very wrong. Feel free to comment and share your opinions too.


  1. Romanticism is actually my least favourite literary period, though that may have something to do with how long I studied it for (in the most uninteresting ways). Your enthusiasm for it has made me think that perhaps I should give it another go. I know I've got a chunky anthology somewhere...

  2. Romanticism is definitely my favourite period too. Aside from Jane Austen (who wrote at the time of the Romantics but whose philosophy was definitely that of the Enlightenment) pretty much all my favourite authors fall into this category. I love what you said about melancholy. It's definitely a feature that you see again and again in the Romantics' work, and one that really defines the reading experience.