Definition: a literary movement appeared in Europe in the second part of the 18th century in which we begin to see the opposition to the ideals of the Enlightenment and of the French Revolution, considered a failure.
Themes: irrational parts of human nature such as emotions, imagination, introspection and the subjective, but also the revaluation of rural origins of mankind and Panismo, kind of nature-worshipping consisting of a fusion between human and nature.
Lyrical devices: before there were only novels and the theme was the rational part of the man; now the poetry is the most used literary form because is more useful to express emotions, the new main theme of pre-Romanticism and Romanticism.
New sensibility: the sublime, defined by William Turner as “irrational experience, strange sensation both attracting and scaring that men feel in front of the Nature”. In fact, the sublime should be discussed in terms of its effects upon the perceiver, more important than the qualities of the pleasing object, because the encounter with art too, it causes admiration and respect with some degree of horror. Some critics (Burke) say that it comes from what is infinite and terrible, some others (Kant) say that it derives from the free conflict between sensibility and reason. Example: Frankenstein.
New custom: Grand Tour, a trip around Europe whose final destination was the stereotyped Italy, land of the classical age and where archaeologists discovered the ruins of Pompeii. The aim was educate rich and aristocratic young people to know new worlds, culture and literature in a neo-classical view, but at least almost everybody used to do it, also to take archaeological finds (sculptures, pots, etc.) to be sold in their country or to be exposed in their homes.
Authors: - Churchyard Poets, or Graveyard Poets, is a school of poets characterised by their meditations on mortality and on graveyard, the place that influenced the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo for his Sepolcri. The most famous and exemplar author is Thomas Gray for his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, which summarises the main key words of pre-Romanticism: elegy, a solemn form of poetry, country, which refers to Nature, churchyard, another word for cemetery.
-Ossianic Poets, another school of poetry interested in the past because for pre-Romanticism and Romanticism the new is the rediscover of the Middle Age, believed as irrational and religious period of human history. In fact, Ossian was a legendary Irish bard, which means a singer, whose poems were supposed to be translated by James Macpherson who later published them. In the preface he said that he had discovered a manuscript from an ancient poet and that he had translated it, like Manzoni will do in 1827 with the Promessi Sposi. Despite being a fake, he had a huge success because of the rediscover of the past, and the audience was ready for something like this.