The anti-romantic reaction in modern(ist) literary criticism


  • Abdulla Al-Dabbagh



romanticism, anti-romanticism, modernism, New Criticism, classicism, conservatism


While the antagonism of modernism to realism has often been commented upon, its equally vehement rejection of romanticism has not been as widely discussed. Yet, if modernism compromised at times with realism or, at least, with a "naturalistic" version of realism, its total antipathy to the fundamentals of romanticism has been absolute. This was a modernist trend that covered both literature and criticism and a modernist characteristic that extended from German philosophers, French poets to British and American professors of literature. Names as diverse as Paul Valery, Charles Maurras and F.R. Leavis shared a common anti-romantic outlook. Many of the important modernist literary trends like the Anglo-American imagism, French surrealism, German expressionism and Italian futurism have been antagonistic not only to ordinary realism as a relic of the 19th century, but also, and fundamentally, to that century's romanticism. In nihilistically breaking with everything from the past, or at least the immediate past, they were by definition anti-romantics. Even writers like Bernard Shaw or Bertolt Brecht and critics like Raymond Williams or George Lukacs, who would generally be regarded as in the pro-realist camp, have, at times, exhibited, to the extent that they were afflicted with the modernist ethos, strong anti-romantic tendencies.


Download data is not yet available.



16. 12. 2014




How to Cite

Al-Dabbagh, A. (2014). The anti-romantic reaction in modern(ist) literary criticism. Acta Neophilologica, 47(1-2), 55-67.