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The Uni library has Poetry For Dummies, and of course the random page I opened had to be Romanticism, and that was where I finally got it confirmed that literary periods don't work the same way in English as they do in the Teutonic sphere of influence - where you in Norway will talk of a span of time including Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism and Neo-Romanticism, in Britain there is VICTORIAN.

From this fine book, I now know that in the English (possibly just British?) understanding of Romanticism, the most important German figures are Goethe, Schiller, Hölderlin and Heine. After some 5-6 classes on ca. the corresponding period in Germany, I think I'm allowed to say that Heine is the only one of those four who is counted as romantic in German. The lesson learned is that literary history is a lot more political here than there, but I just can't get over how someone so obviously not romantic in one tradition can be celebrated as the man initiating Romanticism in another one.

At least I finally know why I always had troubles with recognising British romantic poetry as what it claimed to be.



Jun. 1st, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
Probably, it's that the rest of the world defines Romanticism wider than German (and German-influenced) scholars, because German Romanticism doesn't exist until a group of younger writers turned away from the ideals of Goethe and Schiller. Funny that they'd make the distinction to S&D, though, because I always thought it appeared like a kind of proto-Romanticism.

Heine belongs on any German curriculum and I find it gravely distressing that the only poem students ever read is Lorelei.