German Literature

German Literature
  • German authors
  • Literature in the Middle Ages
  • 16th, 17th and 18th century literature
  • Enlightenment literature
  • Romantic literature
  • Naturalist and Expressionist literature
  • 20th century literature
  • German war and post-war literature
  • Contemporary literature

Romanticism, Young Germany and 19th Century Drama

After 1798 the Romantic Period began to emerge, influenced by philosopher and theologian Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher, who insisted on the virtues of national independence, and by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, who gave the movement a philosophical foundation, based on the belief of the ultimate oneness of the natural and spiritual world.

Among the numerous romantic poets of the time, the Grimm brothers stood out with their collections of old German folk tales; Clemens Maria Brentano and Achim von Arnim, who collected folk songs; Novalis, author of Hymns to the Night; and Ludwig Tieck, Joseph von Eichendorff and E.T.A. Hoffmann, the latter a master of tales of the supernatural.

Young writers discarded romantic fantasies during the decade of 1830 to participate in political events of the time, forming a movement referred to as Young Germany which was greatly influenced by the works of Hegel. Heinrich Heine was especially inspired by Hegel.

In 19th Century drama, Georg Büchner stood out as pioneer of psychological realism with plays such as Woyzeck and Danton's Death, and musician Richard Wagner, influenced by Schopenhauer's philosophy, writing the words to his operas, celebrated the great traditions of German literature in works such as The Master Singers of Nuremberg and Parsifal.