Something that may be of interest to writers: In his essay Romanticism and Classicism (1911), two very slippery terms, the English poet and critic T. E. Hulme wrote

The best way of gliding into a proper definition of my terms would be to start with a set of people who are prepared to fight about it—for in them you will have no vagueness. (Other people take the infamous attitude of the person with catholic tastes who says he likes both.)

This is likely often to mislead, but as someone who has edited many scholars whose arguments got lost in the weeds of definition, weeds they often couldn’t find their way out of even with me calling to them and waving a big flag from the edge of the lawn, this idea has a certain attraction.

While I’m at it, here are Hulme’s definitions of Romanticism and Classicism:

Here is the root of all romanticism: that man, the individual, is an infinite reservoir of possibilities; and if you can so rearrange society by the destruction of oppressive order then these possibilities will have a chance and you will get Progress.

One can define the classical quite clearly as the exact opposite to this. Man is an extraordinarily fixed and limited animal whose nature is absolutely constant. It is only by tradition and organisation that anything decent can be got out of him.

. . . Put shortly, these are the two views, then. One, that man is intrinsically good, spoilt by circumstance; and the other that he is intrinsically limited, but disciplined by order and tradition to something fairly decent. To the one party man’s nature is like a well, to the other like a bucket. The view which regards man as a well, a reservoir full of possibilities, I call the romantic; the one which regards him as a very finite and fixed creature, I call the classical.

One may note here that the Church has always taken the classical view since the defeat of the Pelagian heresy and the adoption of the sane classical dogma of original sin.

Articles by David Mills


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