In the second half of the Eighteenth century higher value began to be placed on the individual’s sensibility, the critical term that came to include most of the new ideas about art and human perceptions was “the Sublime”. The ideal of Sublime was set against the classical ideal of the beautiful and indicates strength, irregularity and fear transmitted by the Nature.
Typical of the new preRomantic sensibility were: a predilection for night, darkness and death and dream-like poems and tales. Most of these tendencies and interests came to called Gothic.
Romantic originally meant “typical of the old medieval romances” but from the second half of the Eighteenth century the meaning of the word began to acquire new connotations: it was marked by feeling (like loneliness and melancholy) rather than by intellect.
The assessment of the literature of the Romantic Age must begin with the French Revolution, the revolutionary spirit took various forms: political and social, both in France and America; ideological especially with revolts against all forms of authority; and artistic against neoclassical rules and in favour of the free expression of personal feelings.