Romanticism Heine Literary Romanticism is a movement in literature present in the history of virtually every European country, the USA, and Latin America. It lasted from approximately 1750 to about 1870 and was characterized by reliance on the imagination and emotional subjectivity of approach, freedom of thought and expression, and an idealization of nature. The term ‘romantic’ first appeared in 18th-century English and originally meant romancelike – that is, resembling the fanciful character of medieval romances. Romanticism was merely a product of bygone ages as are all works of literature. Heinrich Heine is an example of a German romantic poet. He is best renowned for his early lyrical poems and ballads, which are acclaimed for the variety and depth of moods and emotions they express.
Born in Dsseldorf, Heine attended schools there until 1815. There is some evidence that then, while staying in Hamburg with his uncle Salomon Heine, a banker, Heine fell in love with his cousin Amalie but she did not return his love. This early experience may have been the source for the themes of yearning, disappointment, and romantic irony in Heine’s poetry. His poems epitomize the Romantic style, and focus mainly on love, and unrequited or otherwise unattainable love. In his own time, he was also well known for his liberal political opinions and for his satirical attacks on German nationalism.
His writings and controversial activities brought him into disfavor in Germany but made him famous throughout Europe. In reading his works, it will be noticeable that In 1822 Heine’s first volume of verse, Gedichte (Poems, 1884), was published. The book attracted attention because of the delicacy and lyrical beauty of the poems. He remained in Berlin until 1823, writing poetry. From 1824 to 1825 he returned to the study of law in Gttingen.
Because the profession of law was prohibited to Jews in Germany at that time, Heine, who was born Jewish, converted to Christianity in 1825 in order to obtain a law degree. He received his degree but never practiced law. In 1826 Die Harzreise (The Harz Journey 1887), a prose account of a trip he had taken to the Harz, a mountain range in central Germany, was published. This work, with its wit and grace of style, won success immediately and established Heine’s literary reputation. In 1827 his Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs, 1846) was published.
Many noted composers, including Franz Schubert of Austria and Robert Schumann of Germany, wrote music to accompany these verses. From 1827 to 1831 Heine lived in England and Italy as well as in various parts of Germany. During that period he wrote the three volumes of travel stories that, with Die Harzreise, make up the four volumes of his Reisebilder (1826-1831; Travel Pictures, 1887). He also wrote a number of prose works in which he displayed sympathy with the democratic ideas of the French Revolution (1789-1799) and bitterly satirized the feudal regimes of the German kingdoms and duchies (see Feudalism). In the 1830s Heine became a prominent member of a literary group known as Junges Deutschland (Young Germany), which attacked the German school of Romanticism for having come under the domination of the monarchy and the church.
He had hoped to obtain a position as a professor of German literature, but his political ideas brought him into the disfavor of the established German governments. Seeking a more friendly political and literary atmosphere, Heine left for Paris in 1831. Except for two brief visits to his native land, he spent the rest of his life in France. In Paris Heine wrote for several German newspapers and became friends with writers such as Honor de Balzac and George Sand and composers such as Hector Berlioz and Frdric Chopin. In 1835 the writings of the Junges Deutschland group were banned in most of Germany, and Heine’s income was considerably reduced. In 1845 he contracted a spinal disease that confined him to his mattress grave, as he called his bed, from 1848 to his death in 1856.
Nevertheless, some of his most notable works such as the volume of poetry Romanzero (1851), date from the last years of his life. Heine’s personality was composed of sharply conflicting elements: a pagan joy of life and a feeling for Hebraic ethical values; a love of Romanticism and a hatred for the German Romantic writers of his time because of their subservience to reactionary political and religious forces; German patriotism and a humanitarianism that embraced the entire world; nominal Christianity and lifelong attachment to Judaism. These conflicts created in Heine the spirit of disillusionment, of mockery, and of biting satire that characterizes so much of his writing. Poetry.