Great Literary Movements: Romanticism

Great Literary Movements: Romanticism

Read more about the literary trend of the Romantics



This is part of a blog series by our Danish Super Writer ambassadors delving into different periods of comparative literature, talking about the literary trends, and answering some of the big questions: who, what, when, how and why.


A blog written by Anonymia


What are literary trends and how can we use them?


Author sprouts, leisure poet, or hobby writer; whatever you call it, it is a fact that we here at Movellas love writing! Regardless of your experience or your skills, we all share a passion for the written language, and most of us are familiar enough with the satisfying feeling of the eager clicks on the keyboard, or the convulsive wrist when we sweep the pen across paper in finalizing the last chapter. But even if the passion and the desire to write is sufficiently well out of the way, we also need to develop ourselves and expand our writing style, which we can done by facing new challenges that will ultimately make us better writers.


Sometimes the best way to get better at something - although it may seem hard! - is putting the pen aside, reading what others have written, and considering why they wrote what they did. What events at the time led to that specific writing style or movement to be so popular? In the end you will get a sense of your own time and why you write as you do! It's important to focus on language, the historical events that underlie the writing, and the writers who were dominant in each period. For now we will look at Romanticism and the literature of this period.


Romanticism - an ode to nature and native land


So we're embarking on a journey to the heart of Romanticism; this term originated in Germany, but later spread to multiple parts of Europe. In contrast to the previous period of Enlightenment when art was characterized by rationality and reason, Romantics focused (as the name might reveal) on the feelings and spiritual values. When you put it in relation to the historical events in the community, it seems immediately illogical: countries were going bankrupt after spending it all on war, the Napoleonic Wars included. The art of this time, on the other hand, tells of beautiful, united lands and the Romantics saw it as their mission to bring Europe back on its feet through art, which leads us to the first part...


National Romanticism


National Romanticism extended loosely from the years 1807 to 1830. This mainly arose as a response to the forementioned historical events. Countries were going into decline, uncertain economy and rampant poverty created a growing distrust of absolute monarchy, and it was important to create a cohesive force. Artists tried to find just that and create a national feeling through their works. The hallmark of national romantic literature glorifies language as well as phrases that put "the nation" in a positive light, by reflecting the coveted reality. It was also the national romantics that, in an attempt to assemble a common history of the country, many began to write adventure stories, starting with the brothers Grimm in Germany.


Key concepts:

Nationalism: The art of trying to create a national feeling and strength upon the formation of the nation state. This is accomplished in literature through patriotic lyrics celebrating the countryside, the people, and on the whole a unified nation.

"What outward dropped shall be won": The term is defined in a text written by poet H.P. Holst in 1872, but the essence of the term is often associated with the national romantics; what was lost to foreign policy (for example, in war) should now be restored within, and among other things, through art.


Some authors and works:

Henrik Ibsen - Peer Gynt (1876)

Hans Christian Andersen - In Denmark I Was born (1850)

B. Bjørnson - The Father (1907)


Universal Romanticism


This was from around 1800 to 1807. The basic idea of Universal Romanticism is that everything is united. No man is alone, the chosen one can see the bigger universal relationship between nature and man, and is able to both understand and change his contemporaries. The core of universal romance cultivates the bygone golden age when gods walked the earth and they hoped again to achieve a heyday in line with these ideals. They saw nature as a divine organism animated by God, or nature as identical to god, also called pantheism.


Key concepts:

The Organism idea: It's a holistic view of the universe and life. The concept implies that everything is connected, the entire universe is an organism, and everything is permeated by a universal consciousness or spirit.

Pantheism: The idea that everything is essentially a whole. There is a deeper meaning behind everything, and nature and everything around us is imbued with God.

Golden Age: The concept of the Golden Age describes a magnificent past when gods were on earth. A basic feature of Romanticism is the national past is idealized at the expense of today's division and decay. By actualizing the past is there hope for a new (again) heyday in the future.


Some authors and works:

Adam Oehlenschläger - Golden Horns (1802)

B.S. Ingemann - Blanca (1815)


Romanticism and Poetic Realism


Romanticism originated in France in the 1820s and differs from the rest of romanticism found in Europe. Duality is an important theme of Romanticism - the world has two sides, it is not just black or white, and the same was applied to humans - dealing with the human condition, slavery vs. freedom, duplicities in society, and other internal divisions.


Some authors and publications:

William Blake - The Fly (1789)

Jane Austen - Persuasion (1818)

Edgar Allan Poe - Morella (1835)

Henry David Thoreau - Civil Disobedience (1849)



What's your favorite period of literature to read?


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