Germany Literature: Sturm und Drang

By | November 5, 2021

The Sturm und Drang summarized the new direct experience of the Greek world first made by JJ Winckelmann (1717-68), the rediscovery of popular poetry by JG Herder (1744-1803) and the search for a new morality and a new space beyond social and class convention, as well as irrational and mystical communion with nature (JG Hamann, 1730-88). Sons of Sturm und Drang were, with convergences and divergences, JW Goethe (1749-1832) and F. Schiller (1759-1805) – as well as the famous protagonists of their early works, Götz, Werther, Faust, Karl Moor – and the “burnt” generation (second half of the eighteenth century) of GA Bürger, HW von Gerstenberg, JJW Heinse, FM Klinger, JMR Lenz. Goethe evolved, after an immersion in the Italian world, towards a new cosmopolitan and bourgeois classicism (Iphigenie, Tasso), to open up in late maturity and old age to oriental suggestions, to idealistic approaches and to social themes (last Guglielmo Meister, Elective Affinities).

Schiller formed with Goethe the great couple of Weimar classicism (called Klassik, while with Klassicismus every movement of restoration of classical taste was indicated), but impressed in the fundamental formulations of naive and sentimental poetry his certainty of the irreversibility of the unity between nature and conscience and the feeling of the precariousness of modern poetry. An analogous but more burning nostalgia for completeness is in the outsider Hölderlin (1770-1843) who sought the utopian place of redemption in the classical myth transfused into the Christian one, like the other great outsider Jean Paul (1763-1825), ironic already almost romantic mood experimenter. The Romanticism developed in Germany in the Napoleonic so in advance of other European literatures: first opened to the ideals of The French Revolution soon became involved, partly because of the tragic German political situation, in a reactionary pastism, of which there is a tangible sign in the frequent conversions of its representatives to Catholicism. “Romantic” is opposed to ancient, as a cultural synthesis of the medieval Germanic and medieval-Renaissance-novel past, but it is also identified with the “poetic” itself if, as Novalis (1772-1801) says , “romanticizing” is nothing but an “enhance quality”, when “the common has a high meaning, the usual a mysterious aspect, the known the dignity of the unknown, the finite an infinite meaning”. Romanticism was based on idealistic philosophy (as well as on pansophy and Spinozism) noting on the one hand the unlimited impulse for the transformation of nature, on the other hand the contrast between I and non-I, easily resolved in the nihilistic destruction of both; the same romantic irony about the discrepancy between dream and reality, finite and infinite, could decree the vanity of both.

The arts had to merge into unity (this tendency, already expressed in the Baroque age, especially in the theater), so that all the senses had to participate in “synesthesia” in the fruition of the work of art; literature in particular must be “progressive universal poetry” (F. Schlegel, 116º fragment of the Athenäum) and that is to progressively unify in oneself science, philosophy, religion, criticism, prose and verse, culture and popular spirit. The novel is the most strictly romantic form there is, as it can incorporate fairy tale, song, essay, episode. Model gradually deprecated and exalted remains for Novalis, L. Tieck, F. Schlegel, C. Brentano the Meister Goethe. The romantic generation, however, gave its best in the story (H. von Kleist, ETA Hoffmann, ALJ von Arnim, J. von Eichendorff), in the grotesque fragment (Bonaventura), in the fairy tale (Tieck, Brentano, Hoffmann), in the fantasy on ‘art (WH Wackenroder, Hoffmann) and in opera (Novalis, Brentano, Eichendorff). Romantic and immediately post-romantic German opera and liederistic can be considered one of the greatest manifestations of Western civilization. The so-called “romanticism of Jena and Berlin” (at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; AW Schlegel, F. Schlegel, Tieck, Wackenroder, Novalis) which published the magazines Athenäum and Europa (1803-1805) was succeeded by the “romanticism of Heidelberg” (Arnim, Brentano, Eichendorff, Görres) who published Zeitung für Einsiedler. Around 1810 the centers of the movement, however already in decline, were Berlin (A. von Chamisso, FHK Fouqué) and Stuttgart, around which the “Swabian school” developed (L. Uhland, J. Kerner, G. Schwab).

According to TOPB2BWEBSITES, the birth of modern philological criticism and historiography is owed to the romantic generation, headed by the Grimm and the Schlegels: it carried out an immense analytical and editorial work on popular traditions; with it the universities were miraculously integrated with the literary life and the gap between culture and creation was closed, albeit for a short time. The age of the Restoration it saw the decline of the patronage petty bourgeoisie and the courts, the dissolution of poetic circles and a strong increase in newspapers. The intellectuals took two divergent paths; formally or spiritually joined the Junges Deutschland. KF Gutzkow (1811-78), H. Laube (1806-84), H. Heine (1797-1856), who was sore middle term between romanticism and realism, aesthetic aristocratism and communism, and G. Büchner (1813-37), which approached, although affected by post-romantic philosophical pessimism, to pre-Marxist positions. They abandoned themselves in isolation to the stagnant German provincialism JMF Rückert (1788-1866), N. Lenau (1802-50), A. von Platen (1796-1835), pouring, in very different tones, their still living romantic nostalgia into a desolate minor lyric, while E. Mörike (1804-75), A. Stifter (1805-68), the A. von Droste (1797-1848) succeeded as incomparable singers of rural or petty-bourgeois environments, of a renouncing solipsism in almost religious harmony with the humble yet magical everyday reality and in apolitical obedience to the laws of the State, that rule of law hypothesized by Hegel and reinterpreted in a conservative key by the Hegelian right.

Germany Literature