In reading about nineteenth-century rhetoric in The Rhetorical Tradition, I am reminded of a Romantic author I studied in one of my previous English classes.
The Romantic Era began quickly after the Enlightenment, as focus on science and logic gave way to ideas of art and idealism. Nineteenth-century rhetoric, as described in The Rhetorical Tradition, is largely reflective of Romantic ideas I believe.
"[D]uring the eighteenth-century, poets and critics were developing a new model of literature that focused not on its ends but on its creation. The artist's mind, in this new view, is more relevant to an understanding of art than the mind of the audience is. The recurrent ideas of the Romantic revolution reflect this turn toward the creator of art" (Bizzell and Herzberg 995).
William Blake, the author in which I was reminded of, was an 18th century Romantic whose visionary world came to life in the words and illustrations of his poetry. A spiritual man, Blake created paintings from his vivid imagination, just as written expressions seemed to similarly come to him. Abstraction is common to Blake poetry; it can be difficult to see the connection between the poem and illustration depicted alongside. It takes a thorough dissection of both language and art to understand the poem’s meaning in its entirety. Furthermore, like many Romantic poets, it is his vivid imagination and madness that make Blake’s poetry so captivating. In "Songs of Innocence and of Experience," Blake epitomizes Romantic thought by describing many of the ideals so closely related to Romanticism: devastation, romance, nature, and subjectivity. Blake's content ambiguity is quite reflective of the idea that the creator of art is far more intuitive on its meaning than an answer. Romantic authors need only answer to themselves, it seems.