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Romantic nationalism or romantic retreat? Re-evaluating the politics of Arnim and Brentano's Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805/1808)

Pilsworth, E. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7379-0996 (2021) Romantic nationalism or romantic retreat? Re-evaluating the politics of Arnim and Brentano's Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805/1808). German Life and Letters, 74 (2). pp. 166-182. ISSN 1468-0483

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/glal.12297

Abstract/Summary

This article argues for a new approach to war and politics in Arnim and Brentano’s romantic poetry anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn. It departs from previous Wunderhorn scholarship by considering the collection’s three volumes individually, and paying attention to the different political circumstances of the two phases of its creation, 1805 and 1808. I show that there is a change of emphasis in the collection between volume I (1805) and volumes II and III (1808), identifying a shift away from political engagement and a withdrawal of the nationalist sentiments that are still, however, often associated with the collection as a whole. Instead, I argue that the later volumes of the collection turn inwards and come to reflect a more spiritual and escapist aspect of Romanticism, with a focus on the figure of the artist rather than any political goal. By exploring the change in emphasis between 1805 and 1808, my reading presents the Wunderhorn as a text torn internally between a tangible engagement with everyday politics on the one hand, and a tendency towards transcendence on the other. In this way, the collection represents two opposing impulses of German Romanticism around 1800.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Modern Languages and European Studies > German
ID Code:95571
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell

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