Monday, July 26, 2010

On German Romanticism

Click to enlarge

From Oskar Walzel, German Romanticism (1932):
The solitude and enchantment of the forest, the rushing mill-stream, the nocturnal stillness of the German village, the cry of the night watchman, splashing fountains, palace ruins and a neglected garden in which weatherbeaten statues crumble, the fragments of a demolished fortress: everything that creates the yearning to escape from the monotony of daily life is romantic. This yearning lured the German romanticist not only to distant realms but also to peculiarly native customs, to old German art and manners. The romanticist would fain have learned to feel again as a German and to fashion out of this strengthened national feeling a newer and more virile Germanism. Though he cast his eyes upon the glories of the past, the romanticist nevertheless heralded a spiritually quickened golden age of the future. His dreamy eye became unexpectedly bright and clear; ironic luminaries gave a sudden but transient light. Hard upon the glorification of death and the world beyond came the brisk, clear call to the joyous life of actual deeds, to vigorous self-contemplation, and to eager activity in behalf of humanity.
-trans. A.E. Lussky.

(Illustration is Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Castle by the River (Schloß am Strom) (1820) in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin.)

No comments:

Post a Comment