Romanticism in Germany
Uploaded by Brent Goodin on Feb 15, 2002
Romanticism was a European cultural revolt against authority, tradition, and Classical order (the Enlightenment); this movement permeated Western Civilization over a period that approximately dated from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. In general, Romanticism is that attitude or state of mind that focuses on the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the creative, and the emotional. These characteristics of Romanticism most often took form in subject matters such as history, national endeavor, and the sublime beauties of nature. According to historians, the mind-set of the Romantics was completely contradictory to the straightforwardness, impartiality, and serenity of 18th century Classicism. By the 19th century, Romanticism and Classicism had clearly been established and recognized as a major split in art. Masses of Europeans found the concepts of Romanticism appealing and the engagement of these concepts resulted in the reshaping of nineteenth century Germany. The Romantic Movement played a significant role in intellectual life, influencing the country’s nationalistic fervor.
Nationalism was born with the French Revolution. Nationalism refers to the belief that the state and the nation should coincide as a single entity. It is best described in the equation ‘people = nation = state.’ In 1789 the people of France, defined themselves as the nation, took control of the state and the nation state was created. The sense of nationhood was intensified by the internal attempts to overthrow the revolution and by the experience of the war. Victories abroad instilled a feeling of national pride and of national duty. At first the fraternal wish was to free other subject peoples. Then later to civilize Europe by the export of French ideas and by the further control of foreign territory, which was an aim particularly, associated with the Napoleonic Era (1799-1815). Napoleon claimed that the sole purpose of regulating alien territory was to free Germans and Italians, but whilst he reconstructed the frontiers of the European states, he did very little to encourage nationalism directly. Nationalism developed as a reaction to French rule in the geographical areas of Germany. A general feeling of humiliation blanketed the populace of Germany after the invasion and people began to rise up against the empire of Napoleon I. The spirit of nationalism took a stronghold in Germany.
Writers began to expound common culture, heritage and language that defined Germans. Works from Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), one of the earlier well respected German philosophers and writers of the time played...