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German Romanticism

Related: Germany - German literature - Romanticism

People: Goethe - Novalis - E. T. A. Hoffmann

Novels: The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) - Goethe


In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant cultural movement of much of the nineteenth century. Indeed, as a whole, the Romantic movement reached its greatest level of achievement in Germany. Since the aesthetic of German classicism was a relatively late development compared to its English counterpart (Goethe, Classicism's greatest figure, lived well into the 19th century), German romanticism followed very closely after it. In contrast to the seriousness of English romanticism, the German variety is notable for valuing humor and wit as well as beauty. Its aesthetic theory, also, seems very different in favoring fragmentation and incompleteness, rather than only perfection and unity. Key figures of German romanticism are:

. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Romanticism [Dec 2005]

Romantic as antithesis to classic

Goethe on the antithesis romantic - classic

"Klassisch ist das Gesunde und romantisch das Kranke" --Goethe

"What is Classical is healthy; what is Romantic is sick." --Goethe

See also: classic - romanticism - sick - harmony

Nightwatches (1804) - Bonaventura

First sentence: "Die Nachtstunde schlug. Ich hüllte mich in meine abenteuerliche Vermummung, nahm Puke und Horn zu Hand und schützte mich durch ein Kreuz gegen die bösen Geister geschützt hatte." --source

When Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann published his novel Nachtwachen [Nightwatches, 1805] under the pseudonym Bonaventura, he had good reasons for concealing his identity: the text presents a harsh indictment of social corruption, of lost values, and of illusory literature on the threshold between Early and High German Romanticism. With its sequence of apparently disjointed scenes that challenge social and literary conventions, the novel stands outside of the German Bildungsroman (novel of education) tradition. For generations scholars have devoted considerable energy to ascribing the text to one of his more (Jean Paul, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano, F.W.J. Schelling et al.) or less (Karl Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel) distinguished contemporaries until Klingemann’s authorship was definitely confirmed in 1987 by Ruth Haag. The text has long been underappreciated as a failed and misshapen novel, but its interpretation as a highly intriguing anti-novel modeled on the satirical genre has gained acceptance in recent decades. --http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=14237 [Dec 2006]

Schwarze Romantik

Die Schwarze Romantik war eine literarische Strömung innerhalb der Romantik, die deren irrationale, melancholische Züge betonte und sich auch von der Gestaltung menschlichen Wahnsinns fasziniert zeigte. Bekannte Vertreter waren E. T. A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, H.P. Lovecraft und Lord Byron.

Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts bildete sich in England eine eigene Stilrichtung aus, die Gothic-Novel, die sich mit Schauerromanen beschäftigte. Ein besonderes Werk dieser Strömung stellt der stark von der englischen Dichtung beeinflusste romantische Roman Nachtwachen dar, den Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann unter dem Pseudonym „Bonaventura“ veröffentlichte. --http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwarze_Romantik [Dec 2006]

I found the article above on Schwarze Romantik (Eng: black or dark romanticism, see also here) at Wikipedia. I was working on my giallo fiction page and thinking about the roots of European exploitation culture. In English, these can easily be traced to the gothic novel (although it is still unclear to me when the term gothic novel was first coined). My thesis is that the gothic sensibility can be traced in most European literatures. Every European country also had its own terminology to denote the sensibility of the gothic novel. In France it was called the roman noir ("black novel", now primarily used to denote the hardboiled detective genre) and in Germany it was called the Schauerroman ("shudder novel"). Italy and Spain must have had their own, but I am unaware of their names as of yet. In nineteenth century France there also flourished a literature of horror on a par with the English Gothic novel or the German Schauerroman. It was christened 'le roman frénétique'.

Back to Schwarze Romantik. The term can probably be traced to the 1963 German translation of Mario Praz's La carne, la morte, e il diavolo nella letteratura romantica. The German title of this translation is Liebe, Tod und Teufel. Die schwarze Romantik.

While I would like to believe that the roots of the gothic novel are rooted in the darker strains of German Romanticism, this cannot be substatiated as of yet. Granted, the term gothic in the 17th and 18th centuries refers to Germany, and writers such as Schiller, Hoffmann and Klingemann seem to predate much of the gothic fiction of the UK, but there is of course a whole range of gothic novels that predate these three German authors, most notably: The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1764) - Horace Walpole, Vathek, an Arabian Tale (1786) by William Beckford, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) - Ann Radcliffe and The Monk (1796) - Matthew Lewis. Most probably there was a substantial cross-fertilization between German, French, English and other continental strains of dark romanticism that is dealt with at Jahsonic as fantastic literature.

P. S. In France, the Romantic Agony was published in 1966 as La Chair, la mort et le diable, le Romantisme noir.

Die Räuber (1781) - Friedrich Schiller

In search of Romanticism

The German poet, Schiller, was enchanted by the thick walls of the Landštejn castle and laid the scene of his play "The Robbers" in the surrounding forests.

Die Räuber (The Robbers) is playwright Friedrich Schiller's (1759 – 1805) first drama.

Colin Wilson in the chapter "The Romantic Outsider" in his extended essay on existentialism The Outsider says that "Nietzsche quotes somewhere a German military as saying "If God had foreseen the Robbers he would not have created the world."" It should come as no surprise than that in 1781, Friedrich Schiller is arrested after the first performance of his play, The Robbers. This illustrates the subversive nature of the Romantic movement.

Wikipedia says:

The Robbers is considered by critics like Peter Brooks to be the first European melodrama. The play pits two brothers against each other in alternating scenes as one quests for money and power, while the other attempts to create a revolutionary anarchy in the Bohemian Forest. The play strongly critiques the hypocrisy of class and religion, the economic inequities of German society, and conducts a complicated inquiry into the nature of evil. The language of The Robbers is highly emotional and the depiction of physical violence in the play marks it as a quintessential work of Germany's Storm and Stress movement (Sturm und Drang).

Colin Wilson seems to imply that romanticism was born in Germany rather than England as is sometimes believed. From The Outsider:

"In England, German romanticism was introduced when Coleridge translated Schiller and Byron published Childe Harold (1812 - 1818)."

Lucinde (1799) - Friedrich Schlegel

Lucinde (1799) - Friedrich Schlegel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Lucinde (1799) is an unfinished romance by Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel. For details on its publishing history and obscenity trial, see Ludwig Marcuse's Obscene (1962).

Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (March 10, 1772 - January 11, 1829), German poet, critic and scholar, was the younger brother of August Wilhelm von Schlegel.

He was born at Hanover. He studied law at Göttingen and Leipzig, but ultimately devoted himself entirely to literary studies. He published in 1797 the important book Die Griechen und Römer, which was followed by the suggestive Geschichte der Poesie der Griechen und Römer (1798). At Jena, where he lectured as a Privatdozent at the university, he contributed to the Athenaeum the aphorisms and essays in which the principles of the Romantic school are most definitely stated. Here also he wrote Lucinde (1799), an unfinished romance, which is interesting as an attempt to transfer to practical ethics the Romantic demand for complete individual freedom. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Wilhelm_Friedrich_von_Schlegel [Sept 2005]

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