German Romanticism

German Romanticism was the dominant intellectual movement in the philosophy, the arts, and the culture of German-speaking countries in the late-18th and early 19th centuries Compared to English Romanticism, German Romanticism developed relatively late, and, in the early years, coincided with Weimar Classicism (1772–1805); in contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humour, and beauty

The early German romantics strove to create a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science, by viewing the Middle Ages (5th–15th c) as a simpler period of integrated culture; however, the German romantics became aware of the tenuousness of the cultural unity they sought Late-stage German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the daily world and the irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius In particular, the critic Heinrich Heine criticized the tendency of the early German romantics for looking to the medieval past for a model of unity in art and society

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Feelings, individuality, personal experience and the tortured soul are the basis of romanticism Romanticism was born in reaction to the monopoly of the philosophy of the Enlightenment and in reaction to the classicism inspired by Antiquity The feelings, the Sehnsucht, the mystery and the secret are now put forward To the optimism of progress inherent in classicism is opposed the inability to the decision of romanticism

Romanticism developed during the Napoleonic Wars at the end of the eighteenth century after an era of relative calm in which many conflicts were settled diplomatically While the European continent has undergone military campaigns and each country has sought out a hero – Napoleon Bonaparte in France, Horatio Nelson in England, General Kutuzov in Russia – the Romantics have freed the imagination A second important factor was the culture of the bourgeoisie, which made the intellectual terrain fertile for art and literature Economic development allowed the bourgeoisie to buy more books, musical instruments, attend the theaters and attend concerts In reaction to this emancipation, the aristocracy closed on itself Thus, among the writers and philosophers of the nineteenth century, there are few aristocrats, unlike the eighteenth century On the political level, Romanticism is seen as the counter-current of the Enlightenment rationalism

German romanticism is divided into several periods It begins with the First Romanticism called Frühromantik which lasts from 1795 to 1804 This first romanticism is also the most absolute, the most radical As Julien Gracq noted in a study of Kleist, the first romantics, and more particularly Novalis, claimed nothing but the immediate redemption of mankind through poetry Hence the temptation, inherited from the Enlightenment, to make a great literary synthesis of the world such as the Encyclopedia of Novalis or Hegel

The romantic movement continued with the Hochromantik until 1815 and later Romanticism until 1848 For the Hochromantik, one distinguishes the Circle of Heidelberg and that of Berlin These phases did not take place at the same time in all cultural fields Late Romanticism, for example, was not about music until the beginning of the twentieth century with Gustav Mahler or Richard Strauss