We can offer a pocket history of literature, establishing an order of merit. This pocket history works throught the idea of freedom as this idea has been treated at different times. The history of the treatment of freedom falls into five phases. These phases can be taken as roughly chronological, and can also be used independently of chronology. They are as follows.
1) Tragic freedom. This is the concept of freedom which I have related to the concept of love: freedom as an exercise of the imagination in an unreconciled conflict of dissimilar beings. It belongs especially to, was perhaps invented by, the Greeks. The literary form is tragic drama.
2) Medieval freedom. Here the individual is seen as a creature with a partly described hierarchy of theological reality. The literary forms are religious tales, allegories, morality plays.
3) Kantian freedom. This belongs to the Enlightenment. The individual is seen as a non-historical rational being moving towards complete agreement with other rational beings. The literary forms are rationalistic tales and allegories and novels of ideas.
4) Hegelian freedom. This belongs mainly to the nineteenth century. The individual is now thought of as a part of a total historical society and takes his importance from his role in that society. The literary form is the true novel (Balzac, George Eliot, Dickens).
5) Romantic freedom. This belongs mainly to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though it has roots earlier. The individual is seen as solitary and as having importance in and by himself. Both Hegelian and Romantic freedom are of course developments of Kantian freedom. Hegel makes the Kingdom of Ends into a historical society; while the Romantic concludes from the unhistorical emptiness of Kant's other rational beings that in fact one may as well assume that one is alone. (This is one line of thought leading to existentialism. Angst is the modern version of Achtung; we now fear, not the law itself, but its absence.) The literary form is the neurotic modern novel.