The renowned scholar Rüdiger Safranski’s Romanticism: A German Affair
both offers an accessible overview of Romanticism and, more critically, traces its lasting influence, for better and for ill, on German culture. Safranski begins with the eighteenthcentury Sturm und Drang
movement, which would sow the seeds for Romanticism in Germany. While Romanticism was a broad artistic, literary, and intellectual movement, German thinkers were especially concerned with its strong philosophical-metaphysical and religious dimension. Safranski follows this spirit in its afterlife in the work of Heinrich Heine, Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, and through the later artistic upheavals of the twentieth century. He concludes by carefully considering Romanticism’s possible influence in the rise of National Socialism and the student revolt of 1968.
Romanticism: A German Affair is essential reading for anyone interested in the power of art, culture, and ideas in the life of a nation.