Schwarze Romantik

Die Schwarze Romantik war eine literarische Strömung innerhalb der Romantik, die deren irrationale, melancholische Züge betonte und sich auch von der Gestaltung menschlichen Wahnsinns fasziniert zeigte. Bekannte Vertreter waren E. T. A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, H.P. Lovecraft und Lord Byron.

Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts bildete sich in England eine eigene Stilrichtung aus, die Gothic-Novel, die sich mit Schauerromanen beschäftigte. Ein besonderes Werk dieser Strömung stellt der stark von der englischen Dichtung beeinflusste romantische Roman Nachtwachen dar, den Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann unter dem Pseudonym „Bonaventura“ veröffentlichte. — [Dec 2006]

I found the article above on Schwarze Romantik (Eng: black or dark romanticism, see also here) at Wikipedia. I was working on my giallo fiction page and thinking about the roots of European exploitation culture. In English, these can easily be traced to the gothic novel (although it is still unclear to me when the term gothic novel was first coined). My thesis is that the gothic sensibility can be traced in most European literatures. Every European country also had its own terminology to denote the sensibility of the gothic novel. In France it was called the roman noir (“black novel”, now primarily used to denote the hardboiled detective genre) and in Germany it was called the Schauerroman (“shudder novel”). Italy and Spain must have had their own, but I am unaware of their names as of yet. In nineteenth century France there also flourished a literature of horror on a par with the English Gothic novel or the German Schauerroman. It was christened ‘le roman frénétique‘.

Back to Schwarze Romantik. The term can probably be traced to the 1963 German translation of Mario Praz’s La carne, la morte, e il diavolo nella letteratura romantica. The German title of this translation is Liebe, Tod und Teufel. Die schwarze Romantik.

While I would like to believe that the roots of the gothic novel are rooted in the darker strains of German Romanticism, this cannot be substatiated as of yet. Granted, the term gothic in the 17th and 18th centuries refers to Germany, and writers such as Schiller, Hoffmann and Klingemann seem to predate much of the gothic fiction of the UK, but there is of course a whole range of gothic novels that predate these three German authors, most notably: The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1764) – Horace Walpole, Vathek, an Arabian Tale (1786) by William Beckford, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) – Ann Radcliffe and The Monk (1796) – Matthew Lewis. Most probably there was a substantial cross-fertilization between German, French, English and other continental strains of dark romanticism that is dealt with at Jahsonic as fantastic literature.

P. S. In France, the Romantic Agony was published in 1966 as La Chair, la mort et le diable, le Romantisme noir.

3 thoughts on “Schwarze Romantik

  1. fuchsia groan

    To my mind the “gothic novel” per se is very much rooted in England, the Minerva Press, etc. (The first use of the term outside architecture was in Walpole’s title, according to my Handbook to Gothic Literature, but by “gothic” Walpole really meant “faux-medieval.” I wasn’t able to find out when the term became common in criticism, but I suspect not till the 20th century.)

    There was a lot of cross-pollination, though. Schiller’s Die Rauber (The Robbers) was probably an influence on the English Gothic writers. The French Revolution was also a huge influence on horror/exploitation writers of every stripe, because it offered so many new grotesque tropes and images. And that’s all I really know… I did teach a seminar on the Gothic a long time ago, but I’ve been out of academia for a while.

    But “dark Romanticism” from the fascinating definition above sounds like a pretty impressionistic entity. Byron belongs there for the types of heroes he created in poems like “The Giaour,” but his sensibility was sort of the opposite when you consider his enthusiasm for Pope, etc. His romanticism was always quasi-parody; it’s like calling Joss Whedon a dark romanticist and yes, I’m geeking out here. Sorry.

    But my personal favorite Gothic (or one of them) is also supposedly the first American “novel”: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown. My students hated it. Go figure.

    Um, I’m Eva’s sister from The Deadbeat Club, by the way. Your blog’s excellent but makes me feel like the intellectual lightweight I am.

  2. jahsonic

    Dear Fuchsia,

    Pleased to meet you and thanks so much for your enlightening comments. And — in my turn — I feel like an intellectual lightweight. I must remember to dedicate a page to Wieland, as it seems to connect to lots of other ‘places’.


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