A. Lavretsky (Iosif Moiseevich Frenkel) 1934
Author: A. Lavretsky (Iosif Moiseevich Frenkel);
First published: 1934 in Literary Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, pp. 772-830;
Translated: by Anton P.
In the era of the French Revolution a literary and artistic movement arose in Germany known by the name Romanticism. Romanticism is a long discredited term, but still there is no other short designation for the very complex and contradictory movement that prevailed in German literature from 1789 to 1830 and had a tremendous impact on German culture in general. This movement in its development goes through three stages, it is heterogeneous in class and is determined by various social groupings. So, its first stage is characterized by the predominance of the ideologists of the German petty bourgeoisie, the last two stages by the hegemony of representatives of the German-Austrian noble-aristocratic groups. This movement by its very existence testifies to the enormous influence of politics on literature and vice versa; to the interaction of various classes and groups in the dialectic of the literary process. It reflects the specific socio-political environment that determines complex relationships. Without going into general definitions of Romanticism, without going into criticism of interpretations of this phenomenon in Western literary criticism, we will use this word to refer to the movement in German literature which, having originated in the era of the Great French Revolution, fades away together with the Restoration in the 1830s.
The greatest theorist of Romanticism Friedrich Schlegel, defining the basic premises of his views, wrote in one of his articles: “The French Revolution, Fichte’s scholarship and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister are the greatest trends of the era.” If we supplement this definition a little – Fichte’s scholarship is expanded to the German idealism of that era, Wilhelm Meister is linked with all Goethe-Schiller classicism – then we will get a very accurate indication of the political, philosophical and literary premises of Romanticism.
The French Revolution was a tremendous experience for Romantics who had just entered life. Belonging for the most part to the burgher intelligentsia, they all first see in the revolution the guarantee of the realization of the best aspirations of their class. “It was a magnificent sunrise,” says one of the greatest contemporaries (Hegel).
Under the influence of the French Revolution on German literature, Heine writes, “the most violent fermentation and movement is taking place.” “When ... in Paris, in this great human ocean, the revolution swelled” ... “when it roared and beat there, then our hearts rustled and boiled on the other side of the Rhine...”
Nothing seemed impossible. F. Schlegel then proclaimed a democratic republic, with suffrage for women, to be the only reasonable state form. All the best minds of the German burgher youth were seized by “defeatist” sentiments during the struggle of reactionary Germany against revolutionary France. Gentz, later Metternich’s associate and the worst counter-revolutionary writer, then declared: “If the revolution fails, I will consider it [this failure] as the most painful misfortune that befell the human race.”
The revolutionary whirlwind that swept over the Rhine was so strong that even such representatives of the noble-bureaucratic intelligentsia as Novalis, connected with German feudal traditions, at that time were subject to the influence of the revolutionary-minded burghers. It seemed that the French revolution, which Romantics thought of as a world revolution, would resolve the contradictions of German life in which it had fought since the time of Sturm und Drang, from which its brilliant representatives fled into the world of abstract thought and pure art.
By that time, capitalism in Germany had already developed so much that, in the person of its ideologists, it realized that a police-serf state, or rather 360 large and small police-serf states, were the most serious obstacle to its further development. But the still too young German capitalist class was not powerful enough to come out actively against the landlord-princely oppression. Sturm und Drang, which had not yet had time to sound out, turned out to be a powerless, purely verbal protest. There was no room for actual revolutionary social practice. The result is a deep contradiction between consciousness and reality. For all its greater maturity, the German burgher youth of the 1790s was not far from Werther.
Hölderlin was the first to express this sense of discontinuity in his Romantic, narrative-musical novel Hyperion. The young F. Schlegel complains about the fragmentation of his era and its tendencies. The French Revolution was for the young German Romantics the embodiment of the desired synthesis in life itself – the synthesis of theory and practice, word and deed, spirit and flesh. It seemed to be the embodiment of the philosophy of reason, because, overthrowing the entire social order that was crushing the burghers, it promised to build it again on rational foundations.
“This was the time when, as Hegel put it, “the world was put on its head,” that is, when the human spirit and the theoretical propositions invented by it made a claim to serve as the sole basis of all human actions and social relations, and when, after that, contradicting this to positions, reality was actually subverted from top to bottom. All old social and state forms, all traditional concepts were recognized as unreasonable and discarded like old rubbish” (Engels).
This great upheaval in a neighboring country could not fail to generate in Germany the conviction that “thought should dominate in the sphere of spiritual reality,” which was used to think of all reality, that “enthusiasm of the spirit” that constitutes the pathos of German idealism. Idealism was the ideology of the Romantic youth that grew up under the stormy breath of the revolution. However, this revolutionary pathos of German idealism should not hide the limitations of its revolutionary spirit – it developed in a backward country with a weak bourgeoisie.
Reflecting the needs of his era – the needs of the emerging capitalism for “freedom of the person,” that is, in new legal relations that provide capital free from feudal dependence of the worker, Kant created, in the words of Marx, “the German theory of the French revolution.” Precisely German, that is, extremely abstracted, devoid of specific conclusions that were made by thinkers of more advanced countries.
The activity of the German burghers rushes into the only realm of speculation available to it. Without making a revolution, but through symbolizing the revolution, the German burgher intelligentsia could even sometimes manifest radicalism in the field of their heavy abstractions, however, neutralized by the abstraction itself, by the extreme breadth of its sphere: instead of society, nature, the world.
In the philosophy of Kant, along with this kind of reflection of anti-feudal ideas, Romantic youth found themselves in the sense that in the categories of this philosophy they met with the very discontinuity that the French Revolution gave them the hope of overcoming and which expressed indecision, limited revolutionary aspirations. The gap between theory and practice, thought and deed, caused by the contradiction between the developed by the end of the 18th century, but politically impotent bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the “backwater despotism” of fragmented, “provincial” states of Germany, on the other, this gap was reflected in Kant’s characteristic dualism of matter and form of knowledge. Forced to seek overcoming their real contradictions in the ideal field of thought, German Romantic youth found in this dualism a formula for their inner burden and an object of overcoming. In the next section we will see how they overcame this dualism on the basis of the philosophy of Fichte that grew up in the revolutionary era. Now let us consider, among the premises of Romanticism, German Classicism, which was also one of the sources and one of the objects of overcoming for the new movement.
The attitude of Classicism to the middle-class driven Romanticism of that period is the relation of two stages in the development of burghers. At the first, it became disillusioned with the possibility of a revolutionary change in German reality and reconciled with the feudal-serf system, hoping for a slow, “evolutionary” influence on it. During this reconciliation with reality, the stronger economic strata gain predominance over the less strong, the patrician bourgeoisie over the petty bourgeoisie, Goethe leads Schiller.
The young German middle-class intellectuals were, at the time of the French Revolution, fascinated by its prospects, its power in rebuilding the world. It revived on a deeper basis the aspirations of the previous period. Representatives of the former “Sturm und Drang,” who put an end to the “delusions” of their youth, convinced that “beauty blooms only in thought, and freedom in the realm of dreams,” could not sympathize with those who, pointing to a neighboring country, began to dispute it is a cherished conviction. But at first there was still much that connects Romantics with Classics. “Longing” for the Romantic distant (“Sehnsucht”), for the ideal world, which now seemed to be reviving, was primarily expressed in the longing for Hellas in the poetry of the first Romantic, perhaps the most irreconcilable attitude to contemporary German reality – Hölderlin (novel “Hyperion,” 1793, drama “Empedokles,” and his lyric poems). For the young Friedrich Schlegel, there is no doubt about the superiority of ancient Greek life, art and culture (see his articles on Greek poetry, especially Uber das Studium der griechischen Poesie, 1795). Classicism, through Goethe, gave us “The Apprentice Years of Wilhelm Meister” a work that Romantics recognized as a model for themselves. Here, it seemed, their desire to be not “part of man” was expressed, but the whole person. Here the self-affirmation of the intellectual-burgher was expressed, presenting to the feudal-serf society the right to unlimited improvement and opposing his personal gifts and valor to the hereditary nobility.
But Romantics and Classics could not help but disagree on this point. The meaning of “Wilhelm Meister” was fully revealed in his “Wandering Years,” in which it became clear that the path of the Goethean hero leads to limitation, to the establishment of a social hierarchy. The objective meaning of the “Wandering Years” is to respect all religions and all governments, as a more or less perfect expression of the “higher law,” in fact, and strive for a future world republic and religion in the idea.
Below we will see how Romantics, under the influence of Fichte’s philosophy, will encounter these views and the artistic world organically connected with them, how, in a certain respect, continuing classicism, they will come to its denial, to an explosion of its norms.
In the person of Fichte, German idealism put forward its most militant figure, and German Romanticism found the philosophy of its revolutionary period. Fichte’s system in the sphere of German thought is a bright lightning of a revolutionary storm in the West. His entire frame of mind is full of the stormy energy of revolutionary epochs, his entire spiritual appearance amazes with his conscious class purposefulness. Never before or after have sounded such harsh notes of the class struggle in German idealist philosophy. This creator of the most abstract system knew how to put problems on a practical basis. When he speaks about morality, he does not convince us, like Kant, that human nature is fundamentally corrupted, but notes: “people are the worse, the higher their class.” When he talks about the state, he knows how not to ask, but to demand as a true plebeian their rights to equality in this state.
Expressing their ideas of popular sovereignty, natural inalienable rights of the individual, the right to work, the ideology of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia, who most consciously experienced the revolutionary events in the neighboring country, for whom these rights were the most urgent, most painful issues, Fichte becomes the embodiment of all its revolutionary aspirations. And precisely because the demands of the petty bourgeoisie expressed by him did not constitute the statements of a publicist and a politician isolated from his philosophical views, that the whole system of his views was connected with them – precisely because this system, for all its erroneousness, played such a revolutionary role. Abstract theses, philosophically substantiating this very specific content, boiled down to the following.
To eliminate the contradictions of Kantian dualism, Fichte recognized “spirit” as the only reality that creates from itself what we consider to be reality, the external world. “... The entire vast universe, the thought of which makes your souls shudder, is all nothing but a faint reflection of your own infinite and ever-progressing existence.”
The only conclusion from this proud self-consciousness could be that our “I,” man as a thinking being, is free by his very nature. Any deprivation or restriction of freedom is based, from Fichte’s point of view, on a false idea of the very possibility of not imaginary, but real deprivation of this freedom. The philosopher rejects this violence as passionately as he denies error and falsehood. Another conclusion confirming the freedom of the spirit: everything that could limit the human spirit is the result of self-restraint, self-doubt, its other being. And if so, then nothing interferes with our absolute knowledge.
Here Fichte responds to the striving of his contemporary petty bourgeoisie for the absolute both in the world of politics and in the world of knowledge, which is a reaction in the sphere of speculation that knows no limits to its social “squalor.” “I” can comprehend the essence of a thing, for it is not separated from it by any abyss, by any forms of thinking and perception alien to it. There is no such external “I” object. He is within the “I,” he is the “I” itself, and it remains only to realize the latter, to trace his creativity, so that the whole truth is revealed, for this is this creativity: “Man carries the whole world and its laws within himself, he dominates the world because he created it.”
If we imagine feudal-priestly Germany at the end of the 18th century, we will understand what a revolutionary effect this doctrine produced on the minds, breaking with its traditions of obedience to external reality and putting forward slogans so radical for its time. If Kant’s philosophy is “the German parallel to the French revolution,” then in Fichte’s system it is permissible to see the “German parallel” of one of its most significant acts – the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.” But let’s not forget that this “parallel” is “German,” metaphysical, that it was created by people who are incapable of truly revolutionary action and are so fused with abstract symbols that they take them for reality, think of them as reality, and the latter as a symbol ... their symbols.
What is the fate of this philosophy, engendered by revolutionary trends in a backward feudal-guild country? The very understanding of this philosophy, and consequently its very fate, depended both on the further course of the revolution in the West and on the class consciousness of the German burghers reflecting it. After 9 Thermidor 1794 (the fall of Robespierre), the revolutionary wave in France subsided, but even before that, the very scope of the revolution was supposed to cool the enthusiasm of the German bourgeoisie and its vanguard, the very petty-bourgeois intelligentsia that most consistently expressed the interests of the entire bourgeoisie.
“In Germany, the bourgeoisie,” says Engels, “is the fruit of a failed revolution, of an interrupted and retarded development; it received its peculiar and sharply expressed character of cowardice, narrow-mindedness, helplessness and inability to take any kind of initiative thanks to the Thirty Years War and the epoch that followed it, when all other great peoples experienced rapid growth. The German bourgeoisie retained this character afterwards, when Germany was again taken up by the stream of historical development; he was strong enough to put his stamp on all other social strata of Germany as a universal German likeness, until, finally, our working class broke through these narrow frames” (Letter to Ernst).
It is clear that in the epoch of the Great French Revolution, when Germany was “again caught up by the stream of historical development,” the German “extremely outlined and exaggerated” petty bourgeoisie could not break through the narrow framework of German life. Not to mention the fact that the unstable revolutionary spirit of this intermediate class should have weakened at the first difficulties of the revolution – its very revolutionary spirit was already fundamentally contradictory and half-hearted. The petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, which was predominantly the bearer of burgher Romanticism, especially in the first, “revolutionary” period, grew up under the rule of 360 sovereigns and 1,500 semi-sovereigns, whose “enlightened despotism” reached the point of selling its subjects to other states. The principle of estate was so organically connected with the social life of this petty bourgeoisie, that its replacement by a class principle terrified it in its most revolutionary times. Even its most revolutionary ideologist – Fichte – demanded “measures to support the dying estates” and in his ideal “trading” state designed three “closed” estates: “producers” (landowners), “craftsmen” (manufacturers) and “merchants.” There is, of course, no working class in this petty-bourgeois utopia. The desire to save the estate in life, everyday life, art, the state, the fear of its destruction as a symptom of a great socio-economic shift, signifying the degradation and degeneration of the German petty bourgeoisie – this desire and this fear constitute a common stable feature of the Romantic movement, explaining its future destinies, and its very class composition.
If the socio-political shift of the era was expressed in the disintegration of the estate state, in the transformation of medieval estates into modern classes, then the petty bourgeoisie could not but be half-hearted in its radicalism, striving to preserve all the conveniences of the estate system without its inconveniences. Resistance to the process of destruction of the estate, which was in the eyes of the German bourgeoisie a certain guarantee of its independence, determined the reactionary character of the bourgeoisie and the departure of its ideologists into the past. On this basis, they had to meet with another threatened class – the nobility, against whose privileges they fought.
Having first emerged as a revolutionary mentality among the most radical groups of the German petty bourgeoisie of the 1790s, Romanticism, with the weakening of these attitudes, gives way to the ideological hegemony of the noble-aristocratic elements that begin to predominate in the Romantic movement. The increasingly clear threat to the position of the “first estate” also could not but be reflected in the consciousness of its weakest part by a gravitation towards an idealized past.
Thus, on the basis of reality, characterized by the transformation of class society into a class society, the reactionary nature of different strata manifests itself, which led to a number of similar moments in their ideological creativity, with a deep difference in the very content of this reactionaryness. They are the basis for the legitimacy of the use of the term “Romanticism,” denoting similar features in the substantially different creativity of these social groups, deeply different in nature, but belonging to the same disintegrating class society. Here is the basis of both the unity and contradictions of the entire movement. It is only at different stages of it that one then another contradiction becomes the leading one.
However, even in the most revolutionary period of Romanticism, when the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia was its leading detachment, progressive and reactionary elements were closely intertwined in it, as we saw even in Fichte. Fichteanism itself in literature, the conductors of which were people who did not think of themselves outside the class society and did not set themselves any specific social tasks – all these Schlegels and Ludwig Tiecks – had reached a dead end, from which another group had to come out, leading the next stage.
When Fichte created his philosophy of “I” as the creator of the universe, he least of all tried to create a narrowly individualistic system. His “I” symbolizes the common collective human mind, generic consciousness. Fichte’s “I” is the same generic concept as “man” and “citizen” of the French Revolution, the translation of which into German metaphysical language was Fichte’s “I.” Let this “common genus” consciousness, like the French “man” and “citizen,” signify not all of humanity, as their creators wanted it, but the bourgeoisie, becoming a class “for itself,” freeing itself from the class framework, but thus the “I” of Fichte is freed from class limitations.
However, the German petty bourgeoisie could not go so far behind its ideologue, whose philosophy was more in line with class than class society. It chose a different path, apparently more radical, but in fact leading away from the revolution. In the interpretation of F. Schlegel, who translated Fichte’s system into the language of literature and art (his theory of Romantic poetry as “progressive-universal” corresponds to the ever-progressing endless activity of Fichte’s “I”), at the cost of perverting the idea of the philosopher, the individualistic tendency of the German petty-bourgeois intelligentsia was expressed. The absolute “I,” his universal dictatorship turned into an empirical “I,” into the “I” of the given Schlegel, Tieck, into the boundless arbitrariness of this little “I,” into the unlimited arbitrariness of his fantasy.
Having thus embarked on the path of extreme subjectivity, the Romantics deepened the break with reality that was characteristic of German Classicism, which was so close to them at the beginning. Consistently developing art’s detachment from reality as a form of objective reconciliation with it, the Romantics at the end of the first period of their development came to reject classicism. In this denial of the latter, which was the development of his own inherent tendencies, and was to express the Fichtean “revolution” in the field of art.
What did Classicism strive for? For the creation of ideal artistic images in which both “spirit” and “flesh” are equal and harmonious. In this sense, the “classic” still retains a connection with the outside world; it takes from it “flesh,” the material of creativity, which it transforms into its already ideal form. Art, rising above reality as a kind of paradise, still stands on its basis.
This art, like the classical world that embodies it, ceases to be recognized by Romantics as a universally binding ideal. Instead of “equilibrium,” measure, harmony, bought at the price of self-restraint, in which, according to Goethe, only the master is cognized, the principle of completeness is proclaimed, the colossal – at any cost, which in practice means unlimited arbitrariness. After all, an artist, according to Schlegel, “should not tolerate any law over himself.” But this arbitrariness not only denies some external ideals and norms, it also denies the norms set by the poet himself over himself, for “I” cannot submit to anything created by him. Such subordination would mean the dependence of the spirit on matter (matter, according to Fichte, is what the spirit creates). The Infinite cannot express itself adequately in any finite form. It expresses itself in endless activities.That is why the classical theories about the correspondence of form and content are false. The norm of peaceful and friendly cohabitation of these reconciled opposites is opposed by Romantics to the constantly exploding unity of both. Consciousness of this is the famous Romantic irony, the main consequence of Romantic subjectivism, from which a number of aspects of the artistic practice of Romantics follow. Irony raises the poet above his creation, expresses the infinity of his spirit in the paradoxical form of “irreconcilable contradiction between the impossibility and necessity of an exhaustive expression” (F. Schlegel). For this “impossibility,” this “weakness” of the poet as such, testifies to the inexhaustible power of his “I,” elusive in any final form, in any separate artistic act; Schlegel recognizes this weakness as some kind of “patent for nobility.” In elevating it to a virtue, the Romantics follow Fichte’s teachings on intellectual contemplation, for which the spirit, this embodied Hamlet, constantly spies on himself, constantly analyzes himself. They make the subject of the image of the artist himself in the process of creativity, exposing his techniques and thereby already destroying the poetic illusion. To this is added, for the most vivid expression of irony, the reception of an auto-parody.
Such is the subjectivist revolution waged by the Romantics against Classicism. Its social roots are not difficult to clarify. This radicalism in the rejection of Classicism could be characteristic only of those disadvantaged groups of burghers, between whose life and the Classical ideal the gap was immeasurably deeper than among people like Goethe, who represented other layers of burghers. Without following Hölderlin along the path of madness, these Romantics could not create for themselves any semblance of this ideal in their personal lives, which left no room for any hope. Remaining, however, German burghers in the sense of Engels’ remarks quoted by us, without becoming revolutionaries, they took the path of a kind of spiritualist nihilism in relation to German reality. This nihilism marked the first most revolutionary period of German Romanticism – the period from “Titan” by Jean Paul Richter to “Lucinda” by Schlegel; a dual period, like that class, whose representatives in literature were the Romantics of the first period – a class that, along with ideas that reflected the revolutionary movement, carried in itself all the prerequisites for further evolution towards reaction.
Romantic subjectivism in the era of social upsurge played a destructive role in relation to German philistinism, its morality, and its prejudices. It asserted, albeit in an ugly form, the rights of the suppressed individual in Germany. Raising the “I” of each person to an unattainable height, this solipsism in literature, as it were, internally liberated the burgher intellectual from the outside world of junkers and philistines. Fichte instilled in him the idea that the foundations that seemed to him unshakable were essentially nothing before his activity, that he was the supreme judge over them. In artistic creation, this led to a new problematic: a free artist following the dictates of his creative “I,” a strong personality opposing the outside world, and finally – a new free morality.
The subjectivism of Romantics leads to a reassessment of the values of the past, to a peculiar formulation of the question of cultural and, in particular, literary heritage. And the social nature of the first Romantics is fully revealed here. Friedrich Schlegel separates Lessing from such of his students as Nicholas. He puts forward everything paradoxical, warlike, revolutionary in Lessing. The anarchism of Romantic art, which did not recognize anything but the arbitrariness of the creator, should be regarded as a kind of protest against the era of “enlightened” absolutism and its traditions of political oppression as a kind of protest against the era of “enlightened” absolutism and its traditions of political oppression – protest in the only possible form. Denying rationality in art in favor of the unlimited power of the imagination, following in this respect Fichte, who argued that only thanks to the creative power of imagination the world, perceived by our feelings, turns into the real world, petty-bourgeois Romantics could also identify rationalism with the “enlightened despotism” of the German sovereigns, just as aristocratic Romantics identified rationalism with the French Revolution. Do not just confuse the anti-rationalist aspirations of Romantics with those of Sturm und Drang.
One of the most significant differences between the Romantics of the first period and the Sturmers is their deepest connection with German idealist philosophy. From her, they learned to overcome the dualism of thinking and feeling characteristic of Sturm und Drang. Denying reason as a lower, one-sided ability, they affirm “reason” as a higher, synthetic one, mind “with imagination,” intellectual contemplation, leading beyond the limits of the sensually limited. In contrast to reason, which orders the world of experience by its logical forms, reason is the organ of cognition of the supersensible. Reason builds its own special ideal world in accordance with the laws of its own nature.
Not Rousseau – the teacher of the “Sturmers” – inspires Romantics, but those philosophers who substantiated this special nature of reason, the so-called “Metaphysical need,” striving for the infinite as a requirement of reason. Without them, Romanticism would be devoid of its basic theoretical premises. The peculiarity of Romanticism is that in its most healthy period, the most associated with the revolution, it was alien to the fear of the system as the most adequate expression of rational thinking, which is characteristic of the “Sturmers.” Romanticism consciously gravitates towards the system, seeing in it the highest expression of its aspirations for synthesis: “Only the spirit of the system leads to indisputability” (F. Schlegel).
This will to the system, this assertion of conscious thought, points to yet another essential difference between the first Romantics and the Sturmers and their teacher Rousseau. No matter how hard the Romantics felt the contradictions of culture, they did not strive for a natural state, for blissful ignorance. They were ready to suffer in order to think, and were proud of this suffering of thought. They strove for a new, synthetic culture that would remove its contradictions, and this was reflected in their filiality of the revolution. But they tried to create this culture along the paths of personal spiritual development – and this was their inevitable petty-bourgeois reactionary character, which is the reverse side of all those positive features of Romanticism of the first period, which we spoke about.
The work of Jean Paul (Richter, 1763-1825), who opened this period, is characteristic of both the strengths and weaknesses of the latter. The strong side is ardent sympathy for the great liberation ideas of the century, a high assessment of the French Revolution as a new era in the history of mankind, bold plebeian irony directed against the aristocracy. But Jean Paul would not have been a typical representative of the German petty bourgeoisie if, with all his sympathies for the revolution, he did not strive for “a more spiritual and greater revolution than the political...” This is the emancipation of feeling from social conventions, the right of the heart to its own moral code and to the transformation of morals in accordance with it. The war that the group represented by Jean Paul seemed to declare to reality was quickly adopted, as Brandes justly remarked, "a form of struggle against philistinism.” But soon this struggle also degenerated into the same philistinism, only inside out. Instead of a new code of morality, philistinism is opposed to the autocratic whim of the self-constructing world of “I.”
In this sense, the greatest work of Jean Paul (the novel “Titan”) is of particular importance in the history of Romanticism – one of the main images of Romantic subjectivism. Here we have a Romantic “Titan,” that is, a burgher intellectual who dreams of transforming the world, full of great aspirations, which he can satisfy only in the world of the ghosts of his fantasy. In this respect, Jean Paul’s Roquerol is as characteristic as his immortal Wutz, who acquires a “library” by collecting titles of works and adding text from his own head to them. Let us recall again the same inexhaustible source of Romantic wisdom – Fichte, who asserted that he did not need things and did not use them.
In Jean Paul’s work, bound hand and foot, absolutely dependent on his petty, limited reality, a petty-bourgeois intellectual who does not find an application to his sometimes significant forces, cancels this reality with his fantasy. Fichte’s philosophical irony is transformed by Jean Paul for the first time into artistic irony. If everything that exists is created by the “I,” reflects it, then the claims of this existing to some kind of independence are ridiculous. And Jean Paul, like those who follow him, ironically over reality, as over a dream taken for reality, as over an arbitrarily invented vision that can be shortened at will. It was in accordance with this consciousness that the Romantics sought to remake life. In fact, Romantics did not create or recreate the world, but gave only their inverted reflection of it. Another image of Romantic subjectivism, Tieck’s Lovel, was such a reflection.
Ludwig Tieck’s hero Lovell (from the novel William Lovell, 1795) claims to be a greater Fichtean than Fichte himself. “My whole life is a dream, various visions of which arise according to my will. I am the highest law of nature....”
In a word, all the properties of Fichte’s “I” in general, this world thinking, the absolute, are attributed to the small “I” raised to the absolute. From this moral conclusions are drawn that Fichte could never have drawn. From the position: “beings exist because we imagine them,” Lovel deduces the conclusion: “virtue exists only because I think of it,” and since I am free to think in one way or another, nothing prevents me from abolishing it. This individualism, which seemed so revolutionary to the German petty bourgeoisie, already bears obvious signs of decadence, reflects the decline of the revolutionary wave, the Thermidorian tendencies of the burgher intelligentsia disillusioned with the revolution. Hence the cult of voluptuousness in this novel, as well as in the most defiant and shocking layman “Lucinda” – the novel of the main theoretician of the Romantic school F. Schlegel. With all that, “Lucinda” may be the most revolutionary work of Romantics, since the author clearly undermines one of the foundations of contemporary society – “legal marriage” – in the name of freedom of love and feeling. But this did not end there. This work, like others, perhaps more vivid, showed that the isolation of theory from practice, this curse that gravitated over the German burghers, took the form of a fundamental denial of practice in the work of Romantics. By elevating this isolation to the principle, the burgher intelligentsia expressed their last protest – a protest of impotence – against the practice of a class hostile to it, which it had never dared to resolutely rebel against. In the apotheosis of sensuality and idleness, in the “philosophy of laziness and indolence” (VM Fritsche), developed in “Lucinda,”in the limitation of radicalism to only one sphere of sexual relations, in the emphasized apoliticalism of this work, there were all the signs of reaction among the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, so recently still burning with the pathos of the French Revolution. Fichteanism, with its cult of activity, turned into its own opposite. Why ... is this relentless, restless striving forward? F. Schlegel asks in Lucinda like another petty-bourgeois thinker – Rousseau, frightened by culture. The decline of the revolutionary wave in France after 9 Thermidor 1794 was reflected in the mentality of the German burgher intelligentsia, causing the development of those reactionary moments in its worldview, which were inextricably linked with progressive moments and now suppressed the latter.
Romanticism enters its second period with a crushed, failed individualism, which was a philistine distortion of revolutionary ideology on German soil. If subjectivism, which denied philistinism in the era of social upsurge, could play a relatively progressive role, then in the coming Thermidorian period it led to the most reactionary isolation in its narrow “I” and to actual reconciliation with the surrounding reality under the guise of its denial. The revolutionary spirit of the German petty bourgeoisie, expressed in the individualist-anarchic denial of all – certainly all – social foundations, turns out to be groundless. With the growth of general political reaction, this individualism is rapidly turning into mysticism. Already Ludwig Tieck’s Lovel, this petty bourgeois rebel, realizing the inconsistency of his individualistic subjectivism, full of a feeling of emptiness and satiety, he bows down to the “miracle,” takes a step from reason to emotion as the source of truth. Romantics return to the already overcome positions of Sturm und Drang with his exaltation of feeling over reason, so that, without stopping at them, come to a positive religion. Philosophical milestones change accordingly.
Fichte ceases to satisfy Romantics. The famous religious preacher Schleiermacher, in his famous “Speeches on Religion,” replaces the arbitrariness of the unrestrained “I” with the consciousness of “dependence,” in which the essence of religion is seen. Not art already, but religion becomes the revelation of the infinite. In a broader sense, Schelling becomes a philosopher of Romanticism with his mystical interpretation of artistic creation as a fusion with the initial unity (identity) of the conscious and the unconscious, with its imaginary leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom – harmonious synthesis. All this saved the Romantics from the struggle for a real, not an imaginary leap. The opposition of Romanticism to classicism is filled with new content and takes on new forms.
This is no longer the opposition of the rebellious petty-bourgeois individualism to the calmed down, fermented burgher consciousness. The point now is not in the denial of the strict forms of Classicism, not in the affirmation of complete arbitrariness in the field of form. Now the pantheism of the classics is opposed to the spiritualism of the Romanticists, their ancient ideal is the Christian ideal, the idealized pagan Greece is the equally idealized Middle Ages. The Romanticism of the first period – the new outbreak of the rebellion of the German burgher intelligentsia after Sturm und Drang – ends in the same way as its riots ended – with the return of prodigal children to the bosom of church and state.
Fear of the masses, roused by the revolution, provoked a reaction in the burgher environment. This fear caused a hostility to reason, which the bourgeoisie cultivated until it imagined the size of the movement. Now, in the authority it once denied, it is looking for protection against the masses, in whom it once awakened faith in the power and rights of reason. With this turn towards reaction we enter the second period of Romanticism, when ideologically the German bourgeoisie, represented by its vanguard – the burgher intelligentsia – submits to the nobility.
In Novalis, this turn from the will and reason of Fichte to feeling, or rather premonition, passive perception of “other worlds,” to mystical intuition, which was outlined in the work of the first period of Romanticism, was realized.
By the very nature of his social life, Novalis was best-suited to the role of the leader of a kind of literary bloc of the nobility and the burghers frightened by the revolution. This is a representative of the service nobility, who sacredly preserves feudal traditions (especially religious ones) and at the same time joins the life of a burgher-"intellectual.” Close to this intellectual from the petty bourgeoisie, who often does not find the application of his strength, in his culture, the nobleman Novalis is a representative of that social stratum that is more closely connected with the monarchy, is interested in its preservation. In the life of this most mystical representative of German Romanticism, purely philistine features are striking.
There is no conflict between the prosaic life of a provincial official, painstakingly serving his king, and the lofty ideas of the most extreme mystic-Romantic. The mysticism of Novalis is, after all, only a special form of reconciliation with reality. In order to come to terms with it, they first of all reject the proud claims of reason to change reality, to create. It is assigned a subordinate position, as well as knowledge based on it in general. In this respect, Novalis departs to the position of the Sturmers with their sharp separation of the rational from the emotional and the cult of the emotional and the “heart”; none of the Romantics talked so much about synthesis, but none of them is essentially anti-synthetic as Novalis.
He restores in his own way the dualism of two worlds, this-worldly and the other-worldly, overcome by Fichte, and after him by Schelling. He returns to Platonism, for which the earthly is only a faint reflection of the heavenly. The pathos of mystical grace is replaced by Romantic irony – the supreme control of the mind. Novalis is alien to the consciousness of the contradiction between a given moment of development and its boundless prospects, so characteristic of the revolutionary ideology of Romanticism of the first period. He writes a lot about infinity, but from centuries given, static for him, it is never affirmed by him as a process of self-movement. The active, revolutionary-tuned “I” is replaced by the passive, painfully cultivating its self-feeling “I” Novalis. The striving for the infinite, which sounded so proudly in Fichte’s categories, how an indefatigable attraction to activity is replaced by the “languor” (Sehnsucht), which has become classic among Romantics, this, according to Brandes, “a feeling of deprivation and desire, combined into one – without will or determination to achieve what you want ... The very deprivation, the very suffering, becomes an object of pleasure and cult.” “Man is born to suffer,” writes Novalis, “the more helpless we are, the more receptive to morality and religion.” Feelings of helpless dependence on the deity, characteristic of such attitudes, were expressed in Novalis’s “spiritual songs” included in the prayer books.
All these decadent features, indicative of the reactionary era, must also be supplemented by the cult of death, organically connected with them. To the “sleep” of death he wants to liken life. The goal of life is “blissful peace” for Novalis. Therefore, “every noble aspiration, every free-thinking mood outside is suppressed, drowned out in the deep recesses of sincerity – “Gemüt.” Moreover, only those social forms are recognized that come close to this desired petrification, “pull a straitjacket over every striving” (Brandes).
The feudal-Catholic Middle Ages with its triumphant religious obscurantism becomes the ideal (cf. Novalis’s article “Christianity and Europe,” 1800, which is fundamental for the turm of German Romanticism into political conservatism).
The same believing, irrational Middle Ages are idealized by representatives of the petty-bourgeois group of Romantics, disillusioned with the revolution. Desperate to overcome their duality in the revolution, they seek the integrity of life and creativity in the Middle Ages. Fighting against rationalism as the cause of all evil, looking for religious revelation in art, they see in the Middle Ages that soil for this religious art, which the enlightenment era was deprived of. These views were first expressed by Wackenroder in his famous Herzensergießungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders (Reflections of an art-loving monk) as early as 1797, and then in his posthumous book, published in 1799 by Tieck, Phantasien uber die Kunst fur Freunde der Kunst (Fantasy art for friends of art).
During this period of Romanticism, the idealization of the Middle Ages was a phenomenon of a religious and aesthetic order. In the next period, the attitude towards the Middle Ages receives a different content. But throughout the history of German Romanticism, its petty-bourgeois group introduces its own motives into idealization, which are different from the motives of the now leading noble group. If for the latter the Middle Ages is the period of the greatest power of its class, which was quite clearly expressed by such characteristic and naive ideologists of the reactionary nobility as Baron de la Motte Fouqué, then the petty-bourgeois group is attracted to them by the security and stability of a strong guild-artisan class, not forced defend their existence against impending capitalism. Longing for the ideologists of the artisan layer, feeling the inevitable loss of his independence at the new accelerated pace of life, was well expressed by the same Wackenroder, who dreams of the revival of guild craft and everyday life. Hoffmann remained true to this dream at the end of Romanticism. The influence of feudal ideals did not mean for the petty-bourgeois Romantics a rejection of their attitude to the Middle Ages, but gave rise, for example, in Tieck, that discord between reason and imagination, about which Heine so aptly said: “The first (ie, reason) ... an honest, sober burgher who respects the utility system and doesn’t even want to hear about daydreaming. The second, Tieck’s imagination, remains in the old way a chivalrous lady with fluttering feathers on her beret and with a falcon in her hand.”
These words indicate the social duality of the movement in general, and in particular the duality of its individual representatives, who are under opposite social influences. The latter interacted, and this was of tremendous importance. The interests of the burgher group of Romantics also infected the nobility; they caused that turn from the aristocratic court culture of German classicism to the creativity of “non-noble” classes, which is so characteristic of German Romanticism. If the turn to the Middle Ages was reactionary, it nevertheless led to the democratization of literature.
During this period, which can conditionally begin with the Jena defeat , that caused the national-patriotic movement in Germany, the turn to the Middle Ages receives an actual national-political character instead of a religious and aesthetic one. In the Middle Ages, they see the era of Germany’s greatness and, opposing it to the era of national humiliation, they look for reproachful and encouraging examples in it. In the Middle Ages, they find the pure sources of a specifically Germanic culture, its values, created by the creativity of the masses, without which it is impossible to overcome national oppression. The richness of their creativity should strengthen their faith in the possibility of victory.
Shocked by the revolution, feudal-aristocratic Germany seeks the support of the masses in order to use them all the more faithfully for the struggle against Napoleon, whose victory “marked the victory of reaction over the revolution” (Engels). In order to defeat the revolution, the reaction had to speak in its language, to resort to its means, however, as neutralized as possible. This strengthened the democratic character of the turn to the Middle Ages, which manifested itself at least in the careful reproduction of the style of “folk books” in Tieck. Thus, Achim von Arnim, a representative of the aristocratic reaction, wrote in the preface to the famous collection of folk songs “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” that only the creative activity of the masses can revive a nation.
The works of the “Heidelberg” – Arnim, Brentano, Goerres (“Teutsche Volksbucher”), later brothers Grimm – according to the revival of the German past, they were phenomena of enormous literary as well as general cultural and political significance. Among these works, the collection of folk songs “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” (I volume, 1805) occupies a completely exclusive place both in terms of its significance as a stimulant of patriotic feelings and its further influence on the entire German poetry of the 19th century, which lives on its rhythms and forms, its style. Here, Brentano and Arnim are not just collectors – rather, they provide an artistic reproduction of a folk song, sacrificing the literal accuracy of conveying artistic integrity and consistency of tone.
A similar role was played by “Fairy Tales” of the brothers Grimm (I volume, 1811). The Grimms in this work, as in the Sagas, as in their theoretical work, are the most remarkable representatives of the German petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, who rejected German idealism with its universalism, since it was associated with the revolution, for the sake of the tasks of national culture and national education. Avoiding the broad generalizations of their predecessors, the Grimms, however, created, together with other Romantics of that period, the concept of a “folk spirit” that had long outlived them. This is a typical representation of an intermediate social group that has departed from the revolution, but still cannot smooth out the traces of its influence.
The aristocratic idea of the creativity of the few is opposed here by the idea of the creativity of “the whole people” as a homogeneous whole, alien to any class stratification. For this reason alone, the democratism of the idea of the “people’s spirit” could become reactionary, especially in the era of the general turn of the Romantics towards reaction. Everything that violated the illusion of this unity, especially the revolutionary movements, was declared arbitrary, as not emanating from this common spirit of the people, and fruitless. Closely connected with these ideas is the “historical school” of law, which emerged from Romanticism, which declares everything traditional to be inviolable by virtue of tradition itself. Thus, from the collection of folk songs to the theory of law, everything indicates that Romanticism has entered a new phase of its development.
Political indifference is only one phase of this movement: between the fascination with the French revolution and the period of the Napoleonic wars. During this phase, Romanticism ripened for a reaction, of course a peculiar reaction, which reflected the great shifts of the time and the adaptation of the German capitalizing nobility (Junkers) and the bourgeois elite to them. During the Napoleonic Wars, when the question of the development of capitalism in Germany was being decided, the Romantics became political poets and publicists who in every way contributed with their extraordinary talents to the supporters of that path, which was later called “Prussian.”
The tone is set by the noble group of Romanticism. Arnims, full of awareness of the interests of their class, counter-revolutionaries and nationalists, support Schlegels in every possible way. Suffice it to mention “Reise nach Frankreich” by F. Schlegel, his magazine “Europe,” the political statements of his brother. Friedrich Schlegel composes the appeal of the Austrian government to the people at the beginning of the Austro-French War of 1809. Former Jacobin Goerres, who did so much to study the German folk book, appears directly as a politician in the article “Ueber den Fall Deutschlands und die Bedingungen seiner Wiedergeburt” (On the fall of Germany and conditions of its revival), then founds gas. “Rheinische Merkur,” sharply hostile to Napoleon. Romantic poets – Arnim, Brentano and many others. others – participate in the creation of the battle poetry of the “liberation” war,creating countless “Kriegsbilder” and being the initiators of European reaction, in the person of Napoleon, who fought the terrible consequences of the French Revolution for it.
Corresponding to this acute national-political orientation of Romanticism, its general theoretical principles also change. Already in the second period there was a departure from Fichteanism, understood in the sense of individualism. Along with the subject and even absorbing it, it became, on the one hand, the world of religion, on the other, the world of nature, full of mystical meaning. Under the influence of the natural philosophy of Schelling and his followers, a special Romantic feeling for nature as a single living organism, as a “visible spirit” (Schelling) developed. But the individualism of Romantics in relation to society was overcome only in the third period.
It is highly characteristic that the German burgher overcomes his subjectivism not on the path of realizing himself as a class with special interests, but only on the path of nationalism and patriotism. In a country still predominantly rural, where, despite all the successes of capitalism, handicrafts and domestic industry – the most backward form of capitalism – played the main role, the bourgeoisie could not perceive itself as a class leading an independent policy hostile to the class that had hitherto dominated.
Moreover, the significant advance of the German burghers in the direction of social emancipation came to him without much difficulty, not through a hard struggle with the hostile class, but as a result of the victories of the French revolutionary armies. It was just the struggle against Napoleon, which was the struggle of reaction against the revolution, and created the possibility of the widespread use of the rights won for the burghers by the revolution.
The fragmentation of the country, which so fatally influenced the development of German capitalism, is significantly reduced. Reforms in the field of administration, urban structure, courts, relations between land (free sale and purchase of land) and civil (liberation of peasants, Jewish equality) are beginning to spread, following the example of the French-occupied left bank of the Rhine, throughout Germany.
Moreover, in the interests of the struggle against the imperial, but nevertheless new France, the German reactionary states now need to increase the activity of the broad masses of the population. And so, reluctantly, the feudal bison agree to a whole series of unheard-of radical reforms for them, which later, after Napoleon’s defeat, were largely narrowed down and went to work for the benefit of the capitalizing Junkers. In relation to the peasantry, they expressed themselves in the liberation of private peasants from the land, which gave a strong impetus to the formation of the working class for the young German industry and large landowner (Junker) farms. Tax and customs reform, freedom of industrial activity, movement,the acquisition of land ownership and the choice of professions – all this changed the attitude of th bourgeoisie towards the Junker state.
Former individualists and cosmopolitans were now becoming statists and nationalists. The petty bourgeoisie, represented by its most radical representatives, serves the national-state idea. The nobility gives this idea a conservative character, the character of protecting established traditional forms of life as organic and sacred. This path of renunciation of individualism, begun by Novalis, is completed by the greatest playwright of Romanticism Heinrich von Kleist. In his works such as “Hermannsschlacht,” “Prinz Friedrich v. Homburg,” the highest manifestation of personality is the sacrifice of oneself to the state and national whole. Personal willfulness must be subject to established discipline.
On the same denial of “personal willfulness” was built the “organic” state theory of the Romantics, with which Engels still had to deal (see the article on Arndt, Collected Works of Marx and Engels, volume II). Not to mention the revolution, even the modest reforms of Hardenberg and Stein seem to the creators of this theory to be violence against the “national organism.” In contrast to this, the ideas of medieval theocracy are put forward as an ideal state based on harmonious cooperation between the papacy and the empire. Along with such feudal-Romantic reminiscences, economics is already clearly recognized. the need for German reunification. Fighting for him, the Romantics work for the capitalizing cadets.
Just as the liberal reformers, the Steins and Hardenbergs, served the interests of the most viable elements of the Junkers and the big bourgeoisie, the Kleists, Müllers, Arnims and Brentanos, willingly or unwillingly, with their counter-revolutionary propaganda, their so-called training. The “liberation wars” with Napoleon served the same assertion of the “Prussian path” of the development of capitalism. But in the future, their ideas contributed to the cause of more and more restriction of the reforms of Stein, Hardenberg in favor of the most reactionary, most feudal elements of the Junkers. Romanticism became the ideology of the “Holy Alliance,” Metternich’s reaction, based on the principle: “the peasant was created by nature for labor without pleasure, and the nobleman has the right to enjoy without labor.”
Proceeding to characterize the peculiarities of the artistic style of Romantics, we encounter a number of difficulties. This question is not at all developed in our literary criticism, although we are talking about an era that reflected the French Revolution. We cannot yet differentiate the socially heterogeneous elements of this style and trace their struggle. In case of insufficiently specific study of the subject, identity is seen where there are deep differences and antagonisms. So, in Romanticism, we are not only unable to determine the proportion of various groups that merge in the rather amorphous term “burghers,” but also to take into account the contributions to the general artistic fund of the movement of both these groups and various strata of the nobility. Therefore, the proposed review of the main features of the Romantic style is summary and only gives a preliminary outline of the problems associated with it.
The first of them is the problem of the contradiction between the anti-rationalist aspirations of Romanticism and the rationalistic nature of creativity, if not of all Romantics, then of their predominant part, especially in their first – predominantly burgher – period.
Romanticism weighs on the rationalist culture of the 18th century, it strives for a simple, “folk,” even exotic, as a closer nature (orientalism, motives of primitiveness), it cultivates the unconscious as more true, truthful, but at the same time it is difficult to find another trend, to -roe would be to such an extent “cultural,” even “literary,” as Romanticism. Poets and artists play a predominant role in his poetry. Romantics are interested not so much in life itself as in its reflection, especially in the first periods of their development; moreover, the reflection becomes the yardstick for the judgment of life. “It is not the accidental beauty of nature,” says the philosopher of Romanticism Schelling, “that gives the rule to art, but, on the contrary, the perfect work of art serves as the norm for determining the beauty of nature."Even in nature itself, they prefer reflection to direct images.
Typical for Romantics, the image of the artist – Franz Sternbald in the novel of the same name by Tieck – prefers its reflection in the water to the actual landscape. Creativity makes the object not so much of life, which lies outside of it, as of itself, not so much the world of nature, as the world of culture and, above all, the culture that is the most and mostly reflected – the spiritual culture. The primitive, the natural is here a kind of borderline concept, lies at the very periphery of the depicted. No wonder the Romantics are the creators of “Kunstlerroman” (a novel about an artist), no wonder they are the creators of that criticism, which is a kind of art, an artistic portrait of a creative person. All this characterizes the social life of the intelligentsia that created Romanticism, mainly the petty bourgeoisie, cut off from the masses and at the same time not belonging to the big bourgeoisie: it is absorbed only in cultural, theoretical interests, lives in a kind of artificial, “literal” world.
The cultural-artificial, even bookish character of the Romantics’ creativity is also reflected in the fact that it, more than any other, relies on the previous creativity. This is also reflected in the retrospective nature of Romantics who make their way in the old past, renewing it. Their own, modern, they should always lean on the past. This was facilitated by the increasingly reactionary nature of Romanticism, which reflected the existence of the class groups that gave rise to it. Tieck already wrote a number of works based on “folk books” (see “Folk Literature”). However, in the Heidelberg group, this character of romance appears especially clearly. Brentano is inspired by a folk song, most of the works of Arnim, a prominent representative of the aristocratic landlord group of Romanticism, have the character of reminiscences or simply adaptations, alterations of literary monuments of the past centuries (dramas “Halle und Jerusalem,” “Die Papstin Johanna,” collection of short stories “Der Wintergarten”).
From all of the above, the conclusion already suggests itself that the work of Romantics is much less emotional than they used to imagine. Emotion, even the dominance of an emotional motive in a work of art, here is a certain moment in the whole system of thoughts, and not a phenomenon of a spontaneous, “gravity” order. Not so much emotion as imagination, fantasy, to which even Fichte attached such tremendous intellectual importance, is characteristic of Romantics. In the words of F. Schlegel: “what is Romantic is what a sentimental plot presents in a fantastic form” – the relationship between emotion and imagination in their artistic work is perfectly defined. Fantasy for Romantics is precisely a fantasy in the spirit of Fichte, that is, not a capricious play of associations, but an intellectual phenomenon,thanks to which the poet expresses his worldview most fully and freely. In relation to the latter, fantasy plays the same subordinate, service role as emotion in relation to it. Creativity is conscious, ideological, philosophical.
Choosing one or another form, it is guided by considerations of their suitability “for the sublime philosophy and passing into poetry of the self-consciousness of the spirit” (August Schlegel). Hence, for example, the preference in the lyrics of the sonnet form, which is especially convenient for expressing dismembered philosophical thought. But this thought is always subjective. Thought here is the discovery of the inner world of the creator. Fichte’s subjectivist interpretation was reflected in the artistic work of petty-bourgeois Romantics. The poet’s little “I” is as sovereign a master in his poetic world as Fichte’s absolute “I” is in the cosmos he creates. The Romantic always answers with his work to some personal question, solves his personal problem. In the first and second periods, burgher Romanticism mainly asserts its inner world as a real and highest value.
This subjectivism is not constrained by certain strict forms. It breaks down established genres as it is required to express the inner world. The traditional poetic genders are quite consciously mixed: epic, drama, lyrics. If this subjectivism is not inclined to adhere to certain poetic forms and norms, then, on the other hand, it does not want to bind itself to a definite, precisely limited meaning; he doesn’t like direct expression. The more mystical Romanticism becomes, the more symbolic, if not simply allegorical, it becomes.
Symbolism reflects the dualism of the Romantic worldview: the concept of two worlds, one of which only signals the other. Symbolism, on the other hand, contributes to the idealization of one’s experiences, which is so characteristic of the Romantic “fantasy of the heart.” In this sense, the work of Romantics is a symbolic autobiography or a piece of it. It is enough to compare the story of Joseph Berglinger by Wackenroder, Lovel by Tieck, Lucinda by F. Schlegel, Franz Sternbald by Tieck and Heinrich Ofterdingen by Novalis to see how this element of symbolization or even allegorization gradually grows in connection with the turn of Romanticism towards political conservatism.
In Novalis’s unfinished novel, it is finally defined. In this work, in which the Romantic novel received its highest expression, Novalis gave the symbolism of his own development. Quite consciously, the author is not interested in the objective course of things, but only in the meaning of this or that event or phenomenon for Heinrich, Novalis’s alter ego. The outer world does not live its own life here. It is predetermined in everything by inner experiences, not only anticipated, but, as it were, created by them. It seems to be born in dreams and dreams, which then necessarily come true. If a fairy tale is told, it means that it has already been born in reality, in order to become reality a little later. It is not so much a “tale” that is characteristic here as a “prediction” (compare the dream of a blue flower, the story of merchants during Heinrich’s trip from Aachen to Augsburg, the tale of Klingsor). So the Romantic concept of a double world, distorting the relationship between the fantastic and the real, subordinating the real to the fictional – this dualistic concept is reflected not only in the style of Romantics with its often chaotic mixture of abstract and sensual representations, but also in the very structure of a work of art.
Other Romantic novels are even more unfinished than Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdinger. The fragmentation of a Romantic novel cannot be explained solely by the lack of skill or working self-control of its authors. There is a system in this fragmentation. The most essential thing for Romantics cannot have an end. And striving in the novel to accurately reproduce this most essential for them – the striving for the infinite, the longing for it (Sehnsucht), they often did not finish their works on principle (see the foreword by Dorothea Schlegel-Veit to her typically Romantic novel Florentina).
But not only fragmentation is characteristic of the novels of Tieck, Schlegel, Brentano, Arnim, and others. They are more characteristic than Novalis of the destruction of the forms of the enlightening and sentimental novel of the 18th century (Bildungsroman), determined by the same desire for a direct, perhaps less conventional transmission of emotional experiences, movement life in its quest for infinity; before this striving, creativity as a skill in certain forms, limited by the limits of aesthetic canons, loses all value. Here the artist is not so much a master as a “theurgist,” a builder and a transformer of life, but ... in the realm of fantasy, not reality. Romantic art in the field of the novel has played both a destructive and positive role, creating a new stylistic variety by its denial of the genre.
This general characteristic of the Romantic novel can be, in its negative part, attributed primarily to Schlegel’s “Lucinda,” which, rejecting all existing forms, but did not become an original work of fiction, to Brentano’s “Godwi,” in which the successively carried out Romantic irony reaches full exposing the author’s techniques. In the works of Tieck, Arnim, Eichendorff, not to mention Novalis, for the first time is given that kind of genre, in which unity is created not by action, but by a consciously chosen mood, where lyricism is not at all in the sense of the dominance of emotion, but in the development of material – “sentimental plot” – dominates the realistic story. This lyricism forces romantics to deviate from the prosaic form and move on to a more typical poetic one.We find whole cycles of poems in the novels of Tieck, Novalis, Arnim, etc.
But the Romantic novel is not only lyrical: it is also philosophical. To express the enormous philosophical content, they cannot embody in the figurative fabric of the narrative, the Romantics resort to numerous digressions. One of such deviations, preserving artistry, is a fairy tale, which often has the character of an allegorical parable (for example, “The Tale of Hyacinth and the Pink Flower Girl” in Novalis’s Disciples at Sais). But the tale has more than just an official meaning. The more reactionary and mystical Romanticism becomes, the more the significance of the tale grows.
When Romantics begin to see the essence of poetry in a sense of world mystery, they proclaim the fairy tale “canon of poetry” and demand that everything poetic be fabulous. In Novalis’ Ofterdingen, the novel and the fairy tale pass into each other; the whole work has a fabulous flavor. The fairy tale becomes a typical epic form of Romanticism, especially beloved by him when conveying his sense of nature, always inclined to myth-making. Suffice it to point to Tieck’s tales of “forest solitude” (Waldeinsamkeit). The most original storyteller is Brentano (“Märchen von Rhein und dem Müller Radlauf,” “Gockel, Hinkel und Gackeleia” and many others), combining Catholic motives of the second period of Romanticism with folklore of the third – Heidelberg. The romance novel and poem are also essentially a fairy tale. Let us point to the famous short story by the same Brentano “Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und schonen Annerl,” to “Ondine” by Fouquet, etc.
To complete our review of epic forms, we must return to the novel. The Romantics’ interest in history was to direct their attention to the historical novel. Actually, even such early Romantics’ novels as Novalis’s Ofterdingen or Tieck’s Sternbald can be called historical to a certain extent. With the growing interest in the German past, the historical novel becomes an independent artistic task. It was especially convenient for expressing the reactionary tendencies of that group of Romantics, which were the ideologists of the ruining Junkers, unable to become bourgeois. This group revives the “knightly” romance, dreaming of the former splendor of their class (“The Icelander Theodulf’s Journey,” Fouquet’s “Magic Ring,” Hauff’s “Liechtenstein”). The old Tieck gave a tribute to the Renaissance in his Vittoria Accoramboni.
Lyricism, invading other kinds of poetic creativity among Romantics and tearing their forms apart, it would seem, should have manifested itself especially strongly in the lyrics. Indeed, Romanticism means a whole epoch in the history of lyrics; we can say that we owe it the idea that we have about her. But diffused in all the creativity of Romantics, it did not receive its concentrated expression. The greatest German lyricist of the 19th century, Heine was already a rejection of Romanticism and worked in an era when its last lights were burning out. But of course without Romanticism and Heine, all German lyric poetry of the 19th century. would be impossible. Romanticism simplified the lyrics, made it intimate, taught to convey the individual, unrepeatable and at the same time universal, general and simple, like the motives of that folk song that was a model for him.He sought to elevate personal experiences to the level of universally significant value, which had more than just personal meaning. This is his originality in this trend of the revolutionary era, which for Germany signified heightened personal consciousness.
This has already determined the breadth of the capture of Romantic lyricism. On the one hand, it tries to philosophically comprehend the experiences of the individual, to raise them to the level of philosophical contemplation. On the other hand, mystically-minded Romantic poets compete with music in expressing elusive moods – not so much the meaning of words as the rhythm and harmony of their combination. In this striving, they sometimes consciously reach “abstruse” poetry, as justifying the rationalistically substantiated theory of the impotence of the language generated by reason. In the melodious lyric poetry of Brentano, compositional boundaries are erased. In contrast to classical poetry, Romantic lyrics, like drama and epics, prefer the musical development of moods to the architectonic principle. These sentiments are often deeply decadent. The decline of the revolutionary wave is reflected in them. Starting from “Hymns to the Night” of Novalis with their cult of death and darkness up until the so-called. “Liberation” war of 1813-15, they do not cease to sound in Romantic lyrics.
In Brentano, a poet so close to Heine, the contradiction between desire and fulfillment, characteristic of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, is already painfully ironic.
But the more Romantics seek a way out of their contradictions in mysticism, in religion, and then in serving the state, the more tendentious their lyrics become. Launched by Novalis’s Spiritual Songs, the religious lyricism of Romanticism culminates in the unfinished wreath of romances Die Erfindung des Rosenkranzes, with their idea of hereditary guilt redeemed by the invention of the Catholic rosary. From this work, one can judge of those tremendous achievements in the field of art form that were made by Romantics. The flexibility and variety of sizes is striking, as if adapted to the bends of the author’s capricious thoughts (the introduction is written in terzines, the main part in the Spanish romance form). The usual rhyme is replaced by the assonance rhyme introduced by Tieck.
Romantics break the classical version, then admitting poetic arbitrariness, mixing the forms of verse and prose, forcing prose to serve what previously served only verse (for example, “Hymns to the Night” by Novalis), then widely cultivating strict forms of Romanesque and oriental literature. August Schlegel and Rückert are especially distinguished in this respect. But in general, the lyrics of Romantics are dominated by melody, focused on the sound of a folk song. Quite apart from the lyrics inspired by “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” are Hölderlin’s dithyrambic hymns, in which the word seems to be emancipated from the melody, especially emphasized in its semantic meaning, with a free rhythm, completely determined by experience. In this respect, Hölderlin is already the forerunner of 20th century poetry.
The song form, beloved by Romantic lyrics, literally fulfills a combat function during the fight against Napoleon. Romantics create patriotic and warlike lyrics. The “democratic” form serves the purpose of defending feudalism in the poems of both outstanding Romantics and the second- and third-rate poets who follow them (Koerner, Arndt, and others).
Ludwig Uhland emerged as a poet of the “war of liberation” against Napoleon, especially emphasizing its popular character. This singer of “moonlight,” “chivalry” is typical for his songs, ballads for a whole group of poets at the end of romance (“Swabian school”). He creates the so-called. “Canon of Romanticism,” popularizes it, depriving all the complexity of the content. The search for Romantics ends here, freezes in certain formulas. It is Uhland and his group that the direction is already exhausted. That is why the generation of “Young Germany” had nothing to do with the Uland. In their work, the falsity of Romantics in the new conditions is obvious. Uland, like the Swabian school in general (Schwab, J. Kerner, later Mericke), were representatives of the service intelligentsia of the backward agricultural south, which was in opposition to the industrial north. This grouping far from cultural and economic centers, it was especially easy to submit to the ideological influence of the nobility, with whom he was closely connected, which he served. But his “knightly” poetry still betrayed him. About the greatest poet of the “Swabian school” Heine could write that “his old military horse with its coat of arms, decoration and proudly fluttering feathers never matched his ordinary rider, who instead of boots with gold spurs wore boots and silk stockings, and on the head instead of a helmet the cap of the Tübingen doctor of law.”
The Romantic drama is interesting because of the fact that in it the destruction of classical forms has reached an extreme limit. The line, inviolable for the classics, between the lyrics and the epic, and within the drama itself – between the comic and the tragic – are erased. In this respect, Romantics find support in the drama of the Elizabethans and Calderon.
In the first, predominantly burgher period of Romanticism, a Romantic comedy was born, dedicated to the struggle against the enlighteners and ridiculing literary enemies [Der gestiefelte Kater (Puss in Boots), Prinz Zerbino by Tieck, etc.]. Romantic irony reigns here, systematically destroying the illusion by emphasizing stage conventions. The border between reality and visibility, between the viewer and the author, is removed. This is why Romantic playwrights are especially fond of “play in play” (“Ponce de Leon” by Brentano, “Die Freier” by Eichendorf, “Die verkehrte Welt” by Tieck). They scoff at the laws of time and place. In Zerbino, for example, the action unfolds in reverse order.
In the second period, when hegemony passes to the noble elements, a drama is created that reflects religious and mystical tendencies. It prefers legendary stories, especially “Lives.” Such is, for example, the famous drama Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva by Tieck, etc. The influence of the Romantic novel, especially the Bildungsroman, was especially strong in these “Lives” in dramatic form. In the mass of biographical episodes, the thread of the dramatic action is completely lost here. The drama breaks down into a series of dialogues linked by a story specially designed for this character. Later Romantic drama is not so much a dramatized biography as an opera or even a symphonic poem. Such is Brentano’s drama Die Grundung Prags with its themes, leitmotifs and variations.
We find the most characteristic features of Romantic drama in the most famous representative of it at one time, the founder of “Schicksals-Tragodie” (tragedy of fate) – Werner, the pathos of religious Catholic propaganda. In this respect, his “24 Februar,” “Das Kreuz an der Ostsee,” “Die Weihe der Kraft” are especially characteristic. The Romantic “tragedy of fate” created by him acquires, in accordance with these tendencies, the character of reconciliation with fate as an expression of divine justice. This preaching of humility and obedience served the Metternich reaction, a product of which, as a widespread phenomenon, it should be recognized.
Kleist occupies a very special position among Romantic playwrights. True, he is not only not alien to the musical principle of constructing a drama, but this principle reaches its full development. Researchers talk about the contrapuntal nature of this construction, about the role of leitmotifs in Kleist’s work, expressed in the return of well-known images, about the rhythm of their design.
But Kleist, completing in the field of drama the evolution of Romanticism from subjectivism to overcoming this subjectivism in the bosom of church and state, also overcomes the arbitrariness of the dramatic form of the Romantics; the looseness of their composition, the predominance of subjective-lyrical moments give way to a clear dramatic construction, full of action and struggle (“Penthesilea,” “Der zerbrochene Krug,” “Das Käthchen von Heilbronn,” “Prinz Fr. von Homburg”). The work of Kleist is the last powerful attempt of Romanticism to synthesize – in this case, to the synthesis of the dramatic principles of antiquity with the principles of Shakespeare’s drama.
The desire of Romanticism for synthesis in all areas of life and art was at the very beginning doomed to failure. It was based on the “double world,” proceeding from the traditional idea of the disintegration of the world into imannent (this worldly) and transcendental (otherworldly). The very formulation of the synthesis problem was already fundamentally wrong. The synthesis of a non-existent double world could only be imaginary. In the same way, the disintegration of the personality into two halves associated with the concept of “dual world” – external and internal, material and spiritual – could not be overcome as long as the conditions of German reality continued to exist, which caused this dualistic idea.
Romantic synthesis reveals its sham in Hoffmann, the most fantastic and at the same time the most sober among Romantics. In his work, a Romantic outlook, although contradictory in essence, but synthetic in its tendencies, disintegrates.
Hoffmann already abandons synthesis in the sense of the former Romantics. In his work, the opposition between the real philistine world and the world of fantasy and art is something inevitable and irresistible. In Hoffmann, Romanticism ends with the denial of any belief in objective ideal values. The end here is similar to the beginning, but it is the realization of all the futility of the Romantics’ attempts to overcome subjectivism on the paths of religion and mysticism. Hoffmann and his heroes no longer know religion as a consolation in sorrow and a solution to all doubts. What religion was to others, so art was to him. But constituting the main content of his work, for Hoffmann created a kind of poetry about art, music, it does not pretend to be any synthesis, even within its own limits. On the contrary, by its discontinuity, by the disintegration of his forms, Hoffmann – this petty-bourgeois intellectual who woke up earlier than others from the mystical lethargy – reflects and, as it were, illustrates the contradictions of his social group that remain insurmountable and insurmountable under the given conditions.
In Hoffmann’s work, reality becomes equal to the fantastic world, making up a series parallel to it. Hoffmann’s art and heroes are split between these worlds. They belong to both of them. They seem to constitute the point at which, according to non-Euclidean geometry, the parallel intersect. These worlds mix for a moment to disperse again. They never merge, making up two parallel texts, two unrelated stories with breaks in the middle of phrases and in the middle of words, like the manuscripts of Kota Moore and Kapellmeister Kreisler. Thus, the deliberately confused form of Hoffman’s works reflects his concept of a double world, which he honestly admits in all its insurmountability for him. Romantic irony, which previously served this desire for synthesis and, showing the imperfection of its implementation, over and over again excited him, here, as it were, turns to this very desire.
But from this concept, which determines both the general structure of Hoffmann’s works and the nature of his irony, his humor, another follows: the very structure, or rather, the destructiveness of his characters. Bifurcated between these two worlds, belonging to both of them, they lose themselves in them and between them and cannot find themselves in any way, like Medard from “Elixir of Satan.” They lose their own qualities and acquire strangers and strangers. Starting in the epoch of the French Revolution with the affirmation of the “I” as the only real creator and legislator, the burgher intelligentsia in the epoch of reaction, having passed the landowner’s school, came to the denial of the “I” in the depersonalized characters of Hoffmann, appearing in different times and spaces. Romanticism was exhausted. After Hoffmann, it ceases to exist as a powerful movement that renewed German literature and culture in general.He becomes a hindrance to any forward movement; he expresses in literature the stagnation that Metternich expressed in politics.
The tremendous significance of Romanticism is explained by the fact that, by affirming the revolution or denying it, it reflected on German soil the contradictions of the revolutionary era, the rich content that it brought with it. Defining itself, in contrast to classical art, as the art of internal contradictions, as “an expression of a secret gravitation towards chaos, always fighting for new striking forms” (F. Schlegel), Romanticism itself bears witness to its origin. This experience of chaos, this feeling of contradiction, complexity and mutual connectedness of life, the universal nature of the unfolding events and their prospects, have created everything that makes German Romanticism one of the most remarkable phenomena of world thought.
The era of the Napoleonic wars made everyone feel that under the developing industrial capitalism, “the former local national isolation and self-sufficiency are giving way to a comprehensive exchange and comprehensive mutual dependence of peoples. And both in the field of material and in the field of spiritual production. The fruits of the mental activity of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness are now becoming more and more impossible, and from many national and local literatures one world literature is formed. “ (Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto).
The German Romantics have worked more than anyone else to create this “world literature.” In this respect, they objectively contributed to historical development. Romanticism was a real expansion in the field of culture, unfolding in time and space, which conquered both the West and the East, Shakespearean dramas and the Indian Vedas, Spanish romances and Persian lyrics, which enriched the literature of the privileged classes with the enormous wealth of folklore (Romantic universalism). People like Friedrich Rückert, a poet-linguist who recreated poetry, culture, history and moods of the peoples of the East in numerous works, are typical of Romantics.
The French Revolution made world history feel not as a book concept, but as a living, immediately familiar phenomenon. Romantics act as creators of a number of historical disciplines, including the history of literature (in the works of the Schlegels), or give impetus to their creation. The same historical feeling, conditioned by the experience of the revolution, was also reflected in all those philosophical systems that are somehow connected with Romanticism. The development principle becomes dominant. In this regard, the concept of an organism, inconsistency as a rhythm in its development, extends to the entire natural world – all the concepts with which the imaginative work of Romantics and their philosophical thought in the person of Schelling lived. The evolution of Romanticism to reaction inevitably distorted these great ideological acquisitions of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. But we must not forget that in this distorted form the beginning was first laid for what we will meet later.
The development of Romanticism objectively followed the same path that the strongest of the German states, Prussia, took along that “Prussian path” of development, on which Germany was forced to enter the era of Stein and Hardenberg’s reforms. The Romantics served this adaptation of the great changes brought about by the revolution in the life of Germany, to the interests of the nobility-turned-capitalist. This was precisely the manifestation of the ugliness of German philistinism, that Germany’s turn to the “Prussian path” was accomplished not in the struggle against him, but to a large extent by his own hands. This was the objective meaning of Romanticism in the period of the so-called. “War of liberation” against Napoleon.
After the Napoleonic wars, the regressive side of Romanticism gained a decisive predominance, expressed in its futile attempts to restore, in the words of the Communist Manifesto, “the colorful feudal threads that connected man with his hereditary masters,” which capitalism mercilessly tore apart. Romantics strive to revive “the sacred impulse of pious dreaminess, chivalrous enthusiasm and bourgeois sentimentality,” to return the former charm to the priest and poet, and most importantly – to “exploitation, covered by religious and political illusions,” to replace exploitation “open, direct, shameless and dry.” Their religiosity acquires a very definite meaning: “In their hands, religion acquires a polemical bitterness full of political tendencies, becoming more or less consciously a cover of very secular ones,but at the same time, very fantastic desires” (Marx), which consisted in the revival of the medieval feudal-estate state in the age of industrial capitalism.
It is clear that the new period of German literature, which began before the 1820s, was marked by the struggle of the liberal German bourgeoisie against the regressivized Romanticism.
This struggle is led by the liberal bourgeois German democrats, deceived by the Junker state in its best hopes of the era of the struggle against Napoleon. In the beginning, the liberal movement was still dependent on Romanticism as the dominant intellectual movement of the era. Liberals unite with Romantic nationalists in student societies (Burschenschaft). “Bastard liberals” dream of a German empire, not despotic, but free ... “It was the most absurd mixture of feudal rudeness with modern middle-class delusions that one can imagine,” says Engels. Burshenschaft put forward in its literature its ideologists, like Arndt and Jan, its critic, like Menzel, who debunked Goethe for being far from Burshenschaft’s ideals.
When this movement was persecuted, young German liberals took a more definite position in relation to Romanticism. The dominant philosophy of Hegel at the time provided them with a weapon against Romantic disregard for reality. Romanticism, so ironic in its essence, becomes the object of irony itself. This decisive turn was demanded by life, by those extremely important processes that, contrary to reaction, were taking place in Germany after the Napoleonic wars.
The second part of Goethe’s Faust, ending by that time, reflected these processes – the victory of capitalism over the old natural-economic relations (the fate of Philemon and Baucis) – and outlined new paths for the burghers: it demonstrated the abstractness and groundlessness of Romanticism, it showed how Romanticism leads to a culture fruitless and useless for practical life.
In the person of Ludwig Boerne, the German liberal bourgeoisie acquired a powerful exponent of anti-Romantic tendencies in journalism, and in the person of Heinrich Heine in literature. Boerne is the denouncer of those damn things. that so weakened the self-consciousness of the bourgeoisie that they subordinated it to reactionary ideology. He denounces burgher passivity, reconciliation, and often adaptation to the court-Junker world. He does not spare the greatest representatives of the burghers, such as Goethe, but not from a bourgeois-nationalist point of view, like Menzel, who denies exactly what Goethe is great about, but from a political point of view, from the point of view of the interests of the German liberation movement.
These interests dominate the work of Boerne, from the famous magazine Die Wage, which he founded in 1818, to the most striking example of his epistolary art, the Paris Letters, which transferred the revolutionary excitement of the French capital to philistine Germany. Obliged to Romantics for many features of his style, recalling the acute excitability of Jean Paul, Boerne is already alien to the subjectivism of the first Romantics and the religious obsession of the latter. His sensitivity is excited by events not personal, but social life. And he brings the passion of the tribune into German literature, calling on his compatriots, “suppressed by seven floors of the upper classes,” to action.
But Boerne, like the adjacent literature, which received the name “Young Germany,” still did not know which action to take, he vacillated between active constitutionalism and the hope of concessions from the authorities. The ideologist of the petty bourgeoisie, he was afraid of the revolution, because he knew that it would raise the next question about the rich and the poor, depriving the bourgeoisie of that barrier from the “fourth estate,” which were the privileged estates. It is close to the trend that the authors of the “Communist Manifesto” will call “petty bourgeois socialism,” striving to “preserve the basic conditions of modern society without the struggle and dangers that constitute their necessary consequence.” Boerne paid tribute to this petty-bourgeois utopia, attacking the financial capitalists, the Rothschilds, these “property monopolists,” as if that they are closely connected with the Metternich regime and are interested in the fragmentation of Germany, and for the fact that by their policy they incur the danger of a revolution against the bourgeoisie.
For all his petty-bourgeois narrow-mindedness, for all his fear of the masses, which after 1848 will become the general mood of his entire class, Boerne had such a beneficial influence on contemporary literature that the Young Hegelians – and the most radical of them, such as, for example, young Engels – considered themselves to be the successors of his work. Engels says that all further intellectual movement in Germany “was reduced only to unearthing the buried paths of thought between Hegel and Boerne, and that was not so difficult. Both of these people were closer to each other than they seemed. Boerne’s immediate, healthy worldview was, as it were, the practical side of what Hegel set as a goal, if only in the long term.”
If Boerne created by his sermon an atmosphere that was fatal for Romanticism, then Heine dealt it the most terrible blow – all the more crushing because it was struck from within. Closely associated with Romantics, a student of August Schlegel, Heine soon perceives new trends from the West, more in line with the maturing liberal aspirations.
Byronism is a Romantic trend, but it grew up in different conditions, full of protest against reaction, and Heine’s importing of it to Germany helped him overcome German Romanticism and, relying on its own preconditions, turn to a new path. Already Hoffmann, who, despite all his fantasy, tenaciously grasped reality, prepared Heine. But also earlier and more authentic Romantics, for example. Arnim, like his follower Eichendorff (the novel “Premonition and the Present”), greatly facilitated Heine’s work.
Arnim’s works – his “Countess Dolores,” unfinished “Kronenwachter,” short stories “Der tolle Invalide auf dem Fort Ratonneau,” “Isabella von Aegypten” – represented a turning point in the history of the Romantic epic. Since Arnim, as a representative of the landlord group of Romantics, decisively opposed burgher-intellectual individualism, he opposed the objective reality of his class to the subjectivism of his writers. This was reflected in his style, where even the interpretation of his figures, their merging with the surrounding reality, was affected by the general tendency towards realism. Since the protective tendencies of romanticism expressed, as in Arnim, a conscious participation in the class struggle, they caused a break with the closed poetic world of the first period of Romanticism.
Thus, in the depths of Romantic reaction, a new direction is being prepared, which has changed Romanticism. The great poet of the opposition burghers, using these achievements of his predecessors, simultaneously revived petty-bourgeois subjectivism, against which elements of realism were directed in their work, subjectivism in the sense of denying Romantic authorities, in the sense of free judgment over the phenomena of life in terms of the needs and aspirations of a young highly gifted burgher.
The synthesis of these elements can also be seen in his large lyrical cycles, where the history of feeling is mercilessly traced for a long time and the very possibility of Romantic idealization is killed, where the poet fervently exposes the prosaic side of phenomena and mocks Romantic falsity, trying to reproduce the spiritual integrity inaccessible to it. The synthesis of these same elements is in Travel Pictures  with their abrupt transition from romance to social satire. Heine’s work early takes on a consciously political character. For the poet himself, art is a political force, he is inspired by the revolutionary power of his work. And not so much literary as political was the struggle against Romanticism for him. Romantics who have fallen into Catholicism are for him “creepy bastards, hypocrites, liars and incorrigible cowards ... This is a party of lies, they are lackeys of despotism and restorers of nullity, of all the horrors and absurdities of the past.”
The political nature of Heine’s work was especially clearly manifested in the 1830s, after the July Revolution and the Polish uprising.
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