By Hermann Fischer
Hermann Fischer's full of life and unique learn of Romantic verse narrative strains the origins and improvement of this poetic shape within the past due eighteenth and early 19th centuries. It brings jointly the longer epic verse stories of Scott, Byron and Southey and the extra lyrical sorts of Romantic narrative poetry within the revealing yet ignored context of the style and its historical past. Professor Fischer addresses the query of style from either theoretical and ancient viewpoints. His examine illuminates many components of Romantic literature, together with the position of the medieval revival and the decline of neoclassicism, the relative significance of renowned and extra literary assets, and questions of adjusting flavor and the examining public. This translation, greatly revised and up-to-date, makes Hermann Fischer's acclaimed research to be had for the 1st time in English.
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Extra resources for Romantic Verse Narrative: The History of a Genre (European Studies in English Literature)
The epic requires an elevated style, while the style of the romance can be pitched at a slightly lower level. The epic has a more archaic tone,37 while the romance tends to adapt its tone to the content and to contemporary tastes. A sequence of long, evenly constructed, proportionable and resounding verse lines - such as hexameters, blank verse, the decasyllabic lines connected by assonance that are found in the ancient French heroic songs or the long alliterative lines of Germanic poetry - are perhaps more suitable for the epic as an 'evenly illuminated, evenly objective present'38 than a 'perspectivistic' dynamic metre such as is produced by short rhymed verse lines or in particular by stanzas.
Equally magical and unreal - or portrayed in an unusual light - are the deeds and events described in the romances, even if they do reflect the customs and sociological order of a certain historical epoch and sometimes come closer to reality with their description of the psychological aspects and of the life of the lower classes than the elevated epic. Even when a historical personality is made the hero of a romance, the emphasis is not on his historical mission, of which only the legendary aspects remain, but on his individual problems (in particular those relating to love and adventure) and the colourful and fabulous events in which he becomes involved.
As unsatisfactory as this may be, for the purposes of this study of English romances, there is no alternative but to take the former course. It is particularly important to keep in mind the conditions in England and the view the pre-romantic and romantic poets had of the nature of the medieval romance genre (in particular Scott, who was a connoisseur of Middle English romance literature). The romance in their eyes was always bound up with the primitivistic idea of the untaught minstrel, the natural genius who with unsophisticated feeling and inborn imagination told stories about the real world and his own fantasy worlds.