Literary romanticism origin, characteristics and representatives

Abraham McLaughlin

The Literary romanticism It is the period of literary production carried out between the end of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th century in various parts of Europe. This literary manifestation was subject to aestheticisms that were totally opposed to the cosmopolitan and extremist approaches of the French Enlightenment..

This literary expression is the most important branch of the vast holistic movement (Romanticism) from which it derives its name. The authors who followed their forms sought to counteract the capitalism generated by the Industrial Revolution, which at that time was developed by the Gauls and spread throughout Europe..

Goethe. Joseph Karl Stieler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The literature of Romanticism proposed to rescue the essence of things. The work of the writer was to bring people closer to transcendence through letters. Formalism and intellectualism were seen as obstacles in the creative process.

Contrary to popular belief, the term "romanticism" does not refer to "love", as it is currently perceived. In the seventeenth century, the "romantic" was everything that described the melancholy that nature arouses, the wild and everything that was related to this.

At that time the word "romantic", by synonymy, was associated with the improbable, incredible and fantastic. In contrast, this adjective, by antonymy, was an antagonism of the Greco-Latin and the classical, such as medieval literature..

Article index

  • 1 Origin
    • 1.1 Pietism
  • 2 Characteristics of Romanticism
    • 2.1 Enhancement of the popular, natural and indigenous
    • 2.2 Man and his freedoms
    • 2.3 Man's direct relationship with God
    • 2.4 Creation more for its use than for its value
    • 2.5 The value of nationalism
    • 2.6 Fate awaits for all
  • 3 Countries where Romanticism developed
    • 3.1 French Romanticism
    • 3.2 English romanticism
    • 3.3 Scandinavian romanticism
    • 3.4 Dutch romanticism
    • 3.5 Polish Romanticism
    • 3.6 Spanish Romanticism
    • 3.7 Italian romanticism
    • 3.8 Russian Romanticism
    • 3.9 American Romanticism
    • 3.10 Colombian Romanticism
    • 3.11 Argentine Romanticism
    • 3.12 Other Latin American countries
  • 4 Main representatives of Romanticism and their works
    • 4.1 Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
    • 4.2 Lord Byron
    • 4.3 Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    • 4.4 Giácomo Leopardi
    • 4.5 Alexandr Pushkin
    • 4.6 Edgar Allan Poe
    • 4.7 Esteban Echeverría
    • 4.8 Rafael Pombo
    • 4.9 Manuel Acuña
    • 4.10 Jose Marti
    • 4.11 Alberto Blest to Win
    • 4.12 Juan Antonio Pérez Bonalde
  • 5 References


The primary origin of this current is located in Germany. The so-called "German Romanticism" was a disintegrated movement in its genesis, and gradually it was condensing until achieving a greater hegemony of thought and scope..

Its conception was markedly influenced by two currents, one of a religious nature called "Pietism", with much scope in Germany in the mid-18th century. The other literary trend was the "Sturm und Drang”(“ Storm and impetus ”), a movement of aesthetic character and clearly antagonistic to classicism.


Pietism advocated the unipersonal and bilateral relationship of man with God, from the heart, without so many rules and formalities imposed by the church. For his part the Sturm und Drang, defended the individuality of being, freedom of expression from subjectivity, giving special importance to emotions and their infinite quality.

This German movement, like the great number of currents of thought that have occurred in the world, is reactionary. Born by opposition, as a revelation against the German enlightenment.

One of the representative works of that time was The Alps, a poem by Albrecht von Haller, a hymn to the natural and its magnificence.

With the passing of time, figures of great importance rose, Goethe, the most transcendental writer in Germany, is one of them. Also Friedrich Schiller, Karoline von Günderrode, Ludwig Tieck, Jakob and Wilhelm the famous brothers Grimm, among many others.

Characteristics of Romanticism

Enhancement of the popular, natural and indigenous

A marked characteristic of this literary trend is that longing for the origins, for the identity of the peoples, for the preservation of culture. A deep interest is perceived in that the man return to the field, take the reins of the crop and move away from the mechanical and its derivatives.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It is palpable in literary works how traditions reach a great degree of importance because they are the mark that defines different cultures.

The man and his freedoms

The creative subject is also vindicated. It advocates the freedom of creation and thought of beings, without patterns or stereotypes.

Man's direct relationship with God

Another key aspect of Romanticism is the rescue of man's relationship with the supreme being without intermediaries, without so much religiosity or formalities. TO

vogues for a bilateral and one-person relationship, and considers that the church with its structuring came to break the thread between God and men.

Creation more for its use than for its value

It respects the value of created things, but puts the practicality of the object and the benefit it can generate to others above the monetary. Considers creation for mere economic reasons a non-artistic fact.

The value of nationalism

The homeland is a key theme in Romanticism. The love for the land, its boundaries and its people predominate in the romantic work.

Fate awaits for all

In the romantic work there is a mystical and divine appreciation of destiny: everything is written. Very contrary to what is stated by the followers of the Enlightenment, who state that the destiny of man is marked by the works that he does.

Countries where Romanticism developed

Literary Romanticism spread from Germany throughout Europe, having an impact on the American and Asian continents with great impact. Below is the list of countries and their promoters.

French romanticism

Of the romantic outbreaks that emerged in Europe, this one has a particular notoriety for being France the cradle of what Romanticism is very opposed to..

Against this modernist technological advance, usurper of man's labor by the machine, Madame de Stael, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexandre Dumas, Gérard de Nerval, Alfred de Musset, Alphonse de Lamartine, Charles Nodier, the great Victor faced Hugo, among others.

Among the significant contributions of Romanticism by these writers in France, there was a literary resurgence in unofficial languages. The Provençal language was one of the cases.

Federico Mistral headed the group "Félibrige", who were in charge of writing in that dialect (Provençal), with the aim of making the so-called ancient troubadour poetry emerge again, typical of the French Middle Ages. Among the famous works of that time it is worth mentioning La Mireya by Mistral.

English romanticism

Lord Byron, English writer. By Unknown, colored by uploader ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It could be said that England developed its literary Romanticism on a par with Germany. At the end of the 18th century there was already a certain melancholy linked to aspects of rural life and the song to individual freedoms. There was also a deep detachment from liturgical formalisms and everything that resembled it..

There were writers considered precursors of this movement in those lands, they were called "pre-Romantics". Among them, James Macpherson and Thomas Chatterton stand out..

Among the pre-Romantics there was a group called "the poets of the cemetery." These were characterized by writing a gloomy and dark poetry, with recurrent mention of bones, skulls, worms, the fleeting of life and the length of death. These include Thomas Parnell, Thomas Percy, Robert Blair and Mark Akenside.

Among the most solid representatives of this current in England Lord Byron and Mary Shelley stand out greatly. His works have had an impact on world literature, being considered cult literary material within Romanticism.

This period was fruitful in terms of production and inventiveness. Genres such as the historical novel, from the hand of Walter Scott and the gothic novels, by Ann Radcliffe.

Scandinavian romanticism

When Romanticism came to Scandinavia, it met little resistance. To the advantage of the nascent movement, the Enlightenment and Classicism did not make much of a dent in Scandinavian culture, allowing the Romantic movement to easily permeate and spread among the literati of the area..

The Nordics were receptive and productive with the literary current that visited them. The topics on the skalds and the sagas returned to take height. Its authors include Johannes Ewald, Adam Oehlenschlager and Erik Johan Stagnelius.

Dutch Romanticism

The Netherlands also did not escape the reach of Romanticism, having among its greatest exponents Willem Bilderdijk, a poet with Calvinist Protestant tendencies..

Nationalism and its roots, the universality of thought, the value of one's own, the rescue of the popular, were the common themes in the elaborated texts. Also noteworthy are Hieronymus van Alphen, Hendrik Tollens and Rhijnvis Feith.

Polish Romanticism

Due to a past that left a disintegrated country, divided between Germans, Russians and Austrians, patriotism written from the romantic perspective made its way in Poland.

Polish writers, longing for the reconstitution of their homeland, bet in their lyrics for the restoration of lost glory. Because of their exacerbated nationalism, many writers were persecuted and exiled, what they called a “double exile”, but they did not stop in their demands for what corresponded to their homeland..

Its main speaker was the poet Adam Mickiewicz, who wrote in the footsteps of the ancestors and their traditions, their cultural riches and the misery experienced by his people after the division of their lands..

There are also names such as that of the playwright Juliusz Slowacki, influenced by Goethe, and Zygmunt Krasinski, who based his discourse on the Dantesque and the religious.

Spanish romanticism

Romanticism in Spain has marked influences from France and Great Britain, due to the turbulent political climate that this Iberian country experienced in the 19th century. The installation of an absolutist regime in the so-called “Ominous Decade”, suspended all guarantees, closed universities and newspapers, and those who spoke out ran the risk of death or exile.

The same situation of tension caused by Fernando VII, after the War of Independence, did not help much to the spread of Romanticism. Romantic language, properly speaking, took a long time to assimilate. The main protagonists of Spanish literature of the time had to write from exile.

Among the dissident writers who wrote their texts from distant lands is José María Blanco White, who with his newspaper Varieties contributed greatly to the development of Romanticism among the rest of the liberal writers in exile.

Other prominent writers are Juan Nicolás Bohl de Faber, Ramón López and Buenaventura Carlos Aribau. These last two published in the newspaper The European, a Barcelona newspaper. There they openly contradicted neoclassical positions.

It was in 1833, after the death of King Ferdinand VII, that romanticism began to take more space in Spain.

Italian romanticism

Italy, in the development of its Romanticism had a notable presence. The writers Giovanni Berchet, Giacomo Leopardi and Hugo Foscolo stand out.

The genre of the historical novel was developed. Poetry abounded and the marked trend against enlightenment and neoclassicism was maintained.

Russian romanticism

In Russia, Saint Petersburg was the maximum center of his romantic production. It was there, in Leningrad, where the so-called "Arzamás Circle" was in charge - between 1815 and 1818 - of shaping the literary manifestations of Russian Romanticism..

Notable among its authors: Vasili Zhukovski, Aleksandr Pushkin and Piotr Viázemsky.

American romanticism

The United States conceived one of the most universal romantic writers, the long-suffering and brilliant Edgar Allan Poe. As is often the case, he was a misunderstood genius in his day. Poverty and suffering were not alien to him. Yet he took from darkness and pain everything he needed to forge an immortal name in literature..

Poe developed the genre of detective novels and gothic novels, as well as essays and poetry, with Lord Byron as the main example to follow. Also noteworthy is Henry David Thoreau and his marked ecologist and anarchist stance, well ahead of his time.

Colombian romanticism

In Colombia, Romanticism appears in an emblematic time of struggle for freedom: its independence feat in 1810. The texts of Colombian romantic writers point to freedom in art, creative subjectivism, being for being.

The natural beauties of the region are exalted at best. The man and life in the country, and love for one's own culture were recurring themes. The respect and enhancement of the neo-Granada folklore were common aspects of the romantic literary creation of that area of ​​Latin America.

Existentialism, the plot of life and death of men, was not left behind, in fact it had a marked presence, as well as the impact of social adversities in life itself. Poetry and narrative were the dominant expressions of this current in Colombia.

Authors such as Rafael Pombo, José Eusebio Caro and Julio Flórez stand out.

Argentine romanticism

It corresponded to the so-called "Generation of 37", and its leader Esteban Echeverría, the assimilation and spread of romanticism in Argentine lands.

It was characterized by an enhancement of local dialects, where the gaucho took on great importance. It covered the existing social problems and acted very closely to the Uruguayan romanticism.

Río de la Plata and its landscapes served as the cradle for a considerable number of poems. Romanticism became an integrating tool that gave value to the Argentine people, calling on citizens to love their land and roots..

Authors such as José Hernández, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Juan Moreira and José Mármol stand out.

Other Latin American countries

Among them are Mexico, with Ignacio Manuel Altamirano and Guillermo Prieto; Cuba, with Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and José María de Heredia; Venezuela, with Eduardo Blanco and Juan Antonio Pérez Bonalde; Guatemala, with José Batres Montúfar and Chile, with Alberto Blest Gana.

Main representatives of Romanticism and their works

Below are several significant authors and three of their most prominent works:

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe



- Peg (1774).

- The black forest (1789).

- Faust, Part One, (1807).

Lord byron



- Darkness (1816).

- Cain (1821).

- The island (1823).

Jean-Jacques Rousseau



- Dissertation sur la musique moderne (1743).

- Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (1761).

- Pygmalion (1771).

Giácomo Leopardi




- See if (1826).

- Canti (1831).

- Moral booklets (1827).

Alexandr pushkin



- The Prisoner of the Caucasus (1821).

- Tale of the dead princess and the seven knights (1833).

- The story of the Pugachev mutiny (1834).

Edgar Allan Poe



- The Arthur Gordon Pym Narrative (1838).

- "The crimes of the Morgue Street" (1841).

- "The Raven" (1845).

Esteban Echeverria



- Elvira or the bride of Plata (1832).

- Don Juan (1833).

- Hymn of pain (1834).

Rafael pigeon



- The hour of darkness (1855).

- Painted stories for children (1867).

- Moral tales for formal children (1869).

Manuel Acuña



- Free thinker texts (1870).

- Last (1872).

- Complete poems (post mortem 1911).

Jose Marti



- Ismaelillo (1882).

- Simple verses (1891).

- Banishment flowers (1878-1895).

Alberto Blest Wins



- The first love (1858).

- The arithmetic of love (1860).

- Mariluan (1562).

Juan Antonio Pérez Bonalde



- Stanzas (1877).

- Rhythms (1879).

- Gloria in Excelsis (1883).


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