• Enlightement deeply influenced life and thought, changing the way of viewing of the reality, now viewed scientifically and only by reason, not by feelings or religious dogmas anymore.
• There was a large growth of industries after great inventions like the steam engine were patented, consequentially there was a large growth of cities and demography too, that brought a fast changing of society and workers, which now are forced to work in the factories (alienation of the human being.).
• We can attend at a literary projection of this condition of the man introspectivism and individualism.
• Nature was perceived differently, not as a manifestation of the armony of the divine laws anymore but as something living and conditionable that could be submitted to human will.
• Growing interest in human sensations’s analysis, in humble and everyday life, in the serenity of the countryside in contrapposistion to the growing condition of stress caused by citylife (interest in melancholy and meditation, taste for ancient ruins, castles, desolation and loneliness as an escape from reality.).
• Burke’s analysis on beauty and sensation of sublime in the “philosophical inquiry into the origin of our ideas of beauty and sublime”.
• New trends in poetry as the Gothic Novel, refusing enlightenment and classicism in favor of searching the way to live following feelings.
• Double vision of the Man: He has virtually limitless potential but is limited by His feelings.
• There was two main intellectuals on the scene of English Pre-Romanticism:
Thomas Gray was born in London in 1716 by an humble family. He studied with the son of the Great Prime Minister Walpole in Eton.
• He lived travelling in search of inspiration for a new conception of beauty and for sublime. In 1751 Walpole helped him publishing the “Elegy written in a country churchyard”, that is his masterpiece and even one of the most important representations of the English cimiterial poetry.
• Gray was still linked to a formal language typical of classicism but that’s relted to simple and humble thematics.
• He redefined the genre of the Elegy using melancholic and meditative points of view instead of formal schemes. He even introduced the first person speaking in his work.
• Graveyard is an instrument to celebrate the memory of the dead person and the poem written physically on the graveyard is an instrument to celebrate the virtuosity of the poet (N.B.: probably even Ugo Foscolo have drawn inspiration by Gray for his poem “Dei Sepolcri”.).
William Blake was born in London too in 1757 by humble family. His father sent him to a drawing school where Blake studied engraving.
• Even if he remained poor for his whole life he was deeply aware of the great political and social issues of his age. He supported first the French Revolution as a necessary violent purification of the mankind, until the Jacobine Terror started.
• He witnessed the evil influence of the industrial revolution on men’s soul. He was deeply convinced that the artist must be the official keeper of freethinking and spirit.
• His two masterpieces, the “Song of Innocence” and the “Song of Experience” are complementary and belongs respectively to the periods pre and post-Revolution and reflects the different points of view of the poet related to this two periods of his life.
• Blake’s poetry presents simple themes often related to humble life and to the condition of the poor people in the city, but with an huge quantity of metaphors and strong symbolism.