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The Literature of German Romanticism

The Literature of German Romanticism

Edited by Dennis F. Mahoney
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 429
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    The Literature of German Romanticism
    Book Description:

    Arising out of a Europe shaken by revolutionary developments in politics, science, and philosophy, early German Romanticism attempted to usher in a new, higher stage of Enlightenment: its "progressive Universalpoesie" aimed for a synthesis of seemingly disparate cultural spheres. By the second decade of the nineteenth century, however, it had become clear that German Romanticism itself bore witness to the seismic/psychic shocks striking a civilization on the fracture line between tradition and modernity. This volume of sharply focused essays by an international team of scholars deals not only with the most significant literary, philosophical, and cultural aspects of German Romanticism -- one of the most influential, albeit highly controversial movements in the history of German literature -- but also with the history and status of scholarship on the literature of the period. The introduction and first section establish an overall framework by placing German Romanticism within a European context that includes its English counterpart. Goethe and Schiller are considered, as are the Jena Romantics. The second section is organized according to the traditional distinctions between epic, dramatic, and lyric modes of writing, while realizing that particularly in the Romantic novel, there was an attempt to blend these three. A final group of essays focuses on German literary Romanticism's relation to other aspects of German culture: folklore studies, politics, psychology, natural science, gender presentation and representation, music, and visual art. Contributors: Gerhard Schulz, Arnd Bohm, Richard Littlejohns, Gerhart Hoffmeister, Ulrich Scheck, Claudia Stockinger, Bernadette Malinowski, Fabian Lampart, Klaus Peter, Gabriele Rommel, Martha B. Helfer, Kristina Muxfeldt, Beate Allert, Paul Bishop and R. H. Stephenson, Nicholas Saul Dennis F. Mahoney is Professor of German and Director of the European Studies Program at the University of Vermont.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-624-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    D. F. M.
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Dennis F. Mahoney

    At the end of the eighteenth century, there occurred an outburst of intellectual, literary, and artistic creativity within German-speaking lands that signaled the start of the Age of Romanticism throughout Europe and even the Americas. While many literary historians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries regarded German Romanticism as the polar opposite to Enlightenment rationalism — with the evaluation of such a purported opposition depending on the ideological orientation of the critic — it might be more productive to view the Romantic era in Germany as a time when discordances latent in eighteenth-century society and thought became manifest. In this way,...

  7. From “Romantick” To “Romantic”: The Genesis of German Romanticism in Late Eighteenth-Century Europe
    (pp. 25-34)
    Gerhard Schulz

    Joseph von Eichendorff’s (1788–1857) novel Dichter und ihre Gesellen (Poets and their Companions) appeared in 1834, when Europe was already in the grip of the Industrial Revolution, Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) had settled in Paris, and Georg Büchner (1813–37) was writing the revolutionary pamphlet Der Hessische Landbote (The Hessian Messenger). More placid concerns, however, occupy the characters in Eichendorff’s book; in chapter 24, for example, a young lawyer elopes with an equally young lady. A group of friends, among them a poet, hears about these events, and it is the poet to whom everybody turns for an opinion...

  8. Goethe and the Romantics
    (pp. 35-60)
    Arnd Bohm

    Anyone attempting to compare or correlate the histories of German and English literature in the period between 1750 and 1850 can quickly become frustrated by the incommensurable categories deployed in the respective camps. Students of German literature who are used to thinking in terms of the succession Aufklärung (Enlightenment), Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), Klassik, Romantik, and Vormärz (Literature up to March 1848) encounter an entirely different sequence in English. There one finds categories such as the age of Johnson, the age of Sensibility, Gothic, Romantic, and Victorian. The one term that might seem familiar is Romantic. But even...

  9. Early Romanticism
    (pp. 61-78)
    Richard Littlejohns

    In his Kritische Fragmente (1797) Friedrich Schlegel asserts: “So lange der Künstler erfindet und begeistert ist, befindet er sich für die Mitteilung wenigstens in einem illiberalen Zustande” (So long as the artist is inventing and is inspired, he finds himself at least for the purposes of communication in an illiberal state; KFSA, 2: 151). Such mental indiscipline, he argues, blinds those who indulge in it to the value of self-limitation, the ultimate ideal not only for the artist, but also for all human beings. A similar line of argument occurs in Novalis’s novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802). Klingsohr, the benevolent...

  10. From Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister to anti-Meister Novels: The Romantic Novel between Tieck’s William Lovell and Hoffmann’s Kater Murr
    (pp. 79-100)
    Gerhart Hoffmeister

    For students of literary history one of the most fascinating chapters in the development of modern genres constitutes the rapid rise of the German novel from its status as the least appreciated genre in the pre-Romantic period to its commanding position as the most innovative and comprehensive manifestation of high literature in the age of Romanticism. One may in fact argue that the novel became the primary battleground for the Romantic revolution in literature that took shape after the publication of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, 1795–96), a work whose significance Friedrich Schlegel compared to the French...

  11. Tales of Wonder and Terror: Short Prose of the German Romantics
    (pp. 101-124)
    Ulrich Scheck

    Novellas and tales — like the novels and lyrical poetry of German Romanticism — are an essential part of the Romantic legacy and can claim their well-deserved place in the pantheon of German literature. They have never fallen out of favor with the reading public and even today capture our imagination. Undoubtedly this ongoing fascination is in no small part due to the depiction of strange and terrifying events in Romantic novellas and artistic fairy tales that unearth the darker side of the human soul. Indeed, for today’s readers who receive an almost daily dose of the supernatural via television and motion...

  12. The Romantic Drama: Tieck, Brentano, Arnim, Fouqué, and Eichendorff
    (pp. 125-146)
    Claudia Stockinger

    In 1802, August Wilhelm Schlegel had little positive to report about the repertoire and the condition of the contemporary German stage. In his view, it consisted mainly of poor translations or revisions of Italian, French, and English material.¹ The audience preferred so-called “Familiengemälde” (family tableaux),² which combined the action, characters, and problem areas of the bourgeois tragedy and sentimental comedy, and trivialized them in a moralizing stereotypical manner. Also popular was the “Ritterdramatik” (knightly drama), which also adapted the pattern of the bourgeois melodrama and embellished it with pseudo-historical details, mostly of medieval character.³

    While the entertainment drama, with its...

  13. German Romantic Poetry in Theory and Practice: The Schlegel Brothers, Schelling, Tieck, Novalis, Eichendorff, Brentano, and Heine
    (pp. 147-169)
    Bernadette Malinowski

    When discussing German Romantic poetry and poetic theory, it is important to keep in mind the turbulence of the era during which these innovations in poetic theory and practice took place. While many thinkers throughout Europe initially greeted the storming of the Bastille and the proclamation of the Rights of Man in the summer of 1789 as the culmination of an age of Enlightenment, it quickly became apparent that the French Revolution did not signal the establishment of humane, enlightened, and autonomous reason as the guiding force in politics. On the contrary: France, and soon the rest of Europe, was...

  14. The Turn to History and the Volk: Brentano, Arnim, and the Grimm Brothers
    (pp. 171-190)
    Fabian Lampart

    One salient feature of German Romanticism is the importance of “Volksdichtung” or “Volksliteratur” (folk literature). By this term the Romantics understood literature that has its origins in the collective memory of the people or even of one specific nation. “Volksliteratur” is part of a national or international cultural tradition, though it can be collected or even written down in a specific historical version by one single author.¹

    Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) is a key figure in the process of propagating and diffusing the concept of Volksliteratur in Germany. In the 1760s, his function was restricted to a process of...

  15. History and Moral Imperatives: The Contradictions of Political Romanticism
    (pp. 191-208)
    Klaus Peter

    On September 30, 1819 Friedrich Wilhelm III, the Prussian king, signed a decree stating that Professor Joseph Görres in Coblenz should be immediately arrested for insulting his own king and foreign rulers with the most disrespectful comments and for attempting to rouse citizens through the most impertinent criticism of government regulations. The decree went to Rhineland officials in Coblenz, which had become part of Prussia in 1815. Before the decree arrived, Görres was able to flee to Frankfurt, and when friends warned him that the decree had also arrived in Frankfurt, he fled to Strasbourg, France, on October 10.¹


  16. Romanticism and Natural Science
    (pp. 209-228)
    Gabriele Rommel

    Toward the end of the eighteenth century, more than the French Revolution and the Napoleonic conquests were shaking Europe. German and European Romantics also found themselves caught up in fundamental cognitive changes brought about by new and increasingly specialized sciences, particularly in the fields of natural science, medicine, and technology. New conceptions often revolutionize traditional forms of knowledge and require a presentation that influences the development of the language of science as well as our everyday communication. Such proved to be the case of Romanticism, a literary epoch situated on the threshold of the era of machines.²

    This charged and...

  17. Gender Studies and Romanticism
    (pp. 229-250)
    Martha B. Helfer

    Historically, a pronounced gender bias toward male authors has skewed our critical understanding of German Romanticism. Standard workhorses like Frenzel’s Daten deutscher Dichtung identify the “most important” Romantic writers as Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Joseph von Eichendorff, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Heinrich von Kleist, Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), August Wilhelm Schlegel, Friedrich Schlegel, and Ludwig Tieck.¹ Influential theoretical studies like Jochen Hörisch’s Die fröhliche Wissenschaft der Poesie, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Literary Absolute, Manfred Frank’s Einführung in die frühromantische Ästhetik, Winfried Menninghaus’s Unendliche Verdopplung, Azade Seyhan’s Representation and Its Discontents, and Ernst Behler’s German Romantic Literary Theory...

  18. The Romantic Preoccupation with Musical Meaning
    (pp. 251-272)
    Kristina Muxfeldt

    Musical tones are beings who understand each other just as we do them: Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776–1810), a young physicist in the orbit of the Jena circle of Romantics, made this rather eccentric proposition in a volume of literary fragments published posthumously in 1810. Arguing that no human relationship or story exists that could not be represented in music, Ritter suggests — even more provocatively — that, because of an inherent likeness of musical notes to human relationships, we can interact with tones (and they with us) just as we do with other people. Music can provide us with an idealized...

  19. Romanticism and the Visual Arts
    (pp. 273-306)
    Beate Allert

    It was in Germany where Romantic visual art first emerged in the years between 1796 and 1830.¹ This time span can be conventionally structured into three distinct currents: Frühromantik (Early Romanticism, 1796–1806), Hochromantik (High Romanticism, 1806–15), and Spätromantik (Late Romanticism, 1815–30).² While the boundaries between each are frequently indistinct and the currents themselves are sometimes hard to distinguish, the periodization applied to German Romantic art coincides for the most part with that accorded German Romantic literature, although their centers of activity do not specifically coincide.

    German Romanticism is often contrasted to Weimar Classicism.³ Goethe had serious objections...

  20. Goethe’s Late Verse
    (pp. 307-326)
    Paul Bishop and R. H. Stephenson

    In a typically self-ironic poem in the West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan, 1819) Goethe lists the losses old age brings to everyone before defiantly asserting that two things remain to him, making life worthwhile: “Mir bleibt genug! Es bleibt Idee und Liebe!”¹ This binary pairing of intellect and feeling lies at the heart of Goethe’s “symbolic” outlook on old age. As Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945) authoritatively demonstrated, Goethe’s theory of symbolism covers both those “symbolic forms” on which a poet draws — as raw material, from traditional poetic meters through genres to concepts (in its broadest sense, “ideas”) — and what he makes...

  21. The Reception of German Romanticism in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 327-360)
    Nicholas Saul

    As an original, unique and undiluted, literary and cultural movement, German Romanticism did not last long: perhaps thirty years or so after its rise around 1795. Moreover, most of its creative, signature ideas had already been realized by the Early Romantics (Wackenroder and Tieck, the Schlegel brothers, Hardenberg-Novalis, Schelling, and Schleiermacher), and little of import emerged after the traumatic shock to the German collective mind occasioned by the battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806.¹ That Romanticism should have earned one of the longest and weightiest reception histories of any such movement — until the present day — is thus eloquent testimony to its...

  22. Works Cited
    (pp. 361-394)
  23. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 395-398)
  24. Index
    (pp. 399-419)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 420-420)