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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

French Romantic poetry marked a dramatic break with a national tradition of verse which had been inherited almost unaltered from the seventeenth century. During the eighteenth century, the neo-classical conception of poetry as a rule-governed and highly stylized art had continued to prevail; verse was characterized by a solemn tone and narrow lexis, and there was a rigid distinction between poetic genres. Whereas Romantic poetry in England and Germany seemed already to allow the imagination free reign, in France poets needed first to reject these neo-classical conventions. Victor Hugo declared in the preface to his Odes et ballades of 1822 that ‘La poésie n’est pas dans la forme des idées, mais dans les idées elles-mêmes’ (poetry lies not in the form of ideas but in the ideas themselves), and the French Romantic poets were all in different ways engaged in reshaping the forms of poetry to suit their individual purposes.

Keywords: Poetry, politics, progress, personae, lyricism, narrative, image, religion, France

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