Dark Romanticism is a literary subgenre of Romanticism, reflecting popular fascination with the irrational, the demonic and the grotesque. Often conflated with Gothicism, it has shadowed the euphoric Romantic movement ever since its 18th-century beginnings. Edgar Allan Poe is often celebrated as the supreme exponent of the tradition.
Romanticism’s celebration of euphoria and sublimity has always been dogged by an equally intense fascination with melancholia, insanity, crime and shady atmosphere; with the options of ghosts and ghouls, the grotesque, and the irrational. The name “Dark Romanticism” was given to this form by the literary theorist Mario Praz in his lengthy study of the genre published in 1930, ‘’The Romantic Agony’’.
According to the critic G. R. Thompson, “the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satan, devils, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and ghouls” as emblematic of human nature. Thompson sums up the characteristics of the subgenre, writing:
Fallen man’s inability fully to comprehend haunting reminders of another, supernatural realm that yet seemed not to exist, the constant perplexity of inexplicable and vastly metaphysical phenomena, a propensity for seemingly perverse or evil moral choices that had no firm or fixed measure or rule, and a sense of nameless guilt combined with a suspicion the external world was a delusive projection of the mind—these were major elements in the vision of man the Dark Romantics opposed to the mainstream of Romantic thought.
The Black Romanticism is characterized by the fact that it emphasizes irrational, melancholy features and is also fascinated by the design of human madness and the ” evil “, turning away from the enlightened by reason enlightenment and in response to the horrors of the French Revolution, Artists and authors of the current deal with the flip side of human existence, with their works having a sombre and resigned or even macabre, eerie, satanic character. Often a refined-decadent aestheticism serves to depict abusive-excessive behaviors and fantastic, grotesque phenomenainto the Erotic-Sensitive and Exaggerated Morbid.
It found its expression in literature as well as in fine arts, but the boundaries between the joy of the picturesque and the yearning for death are fluid, so that the Black Romanticism can not be clearly distinguished from the mainstream of Romanticism. The exhibition “Black Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst” from September 2012 to January 2013 in the Frankfurt Städel Museum, however, counts in addition to the title Genannten u. a. Johann Heinrich Füssli in England, Caspar David Friedrich and Carl Blechen in Germany, the Swiss Arnold Böcklin, the Norwegian Edvard Munchto the painter-representatives of the black romanticism characterized as spirit attitude, in addition, cinematic works like the tired death (Fritz Lang), Nosferatu (FW Murnau), Dracula (death Browning) or vampire of Carl Theodor Dreyer, photographs (eg of Brassaï), sculptures (eg works by Paul Dardé, Jean-Joseph Carriès, Christian Behrens) and operas such as the Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber found consideration here and recognition.
18th and 19th Century Movements in Different National Literatures
Elements of dark romanticism were a perennial possibility within the broader international movement of Romanticism, in both literature and art.
Like romanticism itself, Dark Romanticism arguably began in Germany, with writers such as E. T. A. Hoffmann, Christian Heinrich Spiess, and Ludwig Tieck – though their emphasis on existential alienation, the demonic in sex, and the uncanny, was offset at the same time by the more homely cult of Biedermeier.
British authors such as Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and John William Polidori, who are frequently linked to Gothic fiction, are also sometimes referred to as Dark Romantics. Dark Romanticism is characterized by stories of personal torment, social outcasts, and usually offers commentary on whether the nature of man will save or destroy him. Some Victorian authors of English horror fiction, such as Bram Stoker and Daphne du Maurier, follow in this lineage.
The American form of this sensibility centered on the writers Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville. As opposed to the perfectionist beliefs of Transcendentalism, these darker contemporaries emphasized human fallibility and proneness to sin and self-destruction, as well as the difficulties inherent in attempts at social reform.
French authors such as Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud echoed the dark themes found in the German and English literature. Baudelaire was one of the first French writers to admire Edgar Allan Poe, but this admiration or even adulation of Poe became widespread in French literary circles in the late 19th century.
20th Century Influence
Twentieth-century existential novels have also been linked to Dark Romanticism, as too have the sword and sorcery novels of Robert E. Howard.
The list of the following main motifs of the Black Romanticism occurs in the order of the approximate degree of restraint from “easy” (above) to “strong” (below).
Longing, window motif, wanderlust, Escapism, hiking motif, Wanderlust, somnambulism
Nature (eg hiking trails, mountains, caves, deep waters, dark forests, lonely glades, but also emblematic animals, plants and natural phenomena such as fog, moonshine, thunderstorms)
Masonry (eg castles, haunted castles, monasteries, dungeons, vaulted cellars, tombs, haunted houses, artificial ruins, ruined architecture, cemeteries, bogus cemeteries)
Church, theology, religion, but also faith and philosophy
Mythical creatures (eg elves, fairies, ghosts, revenants, demons, shapeshifters)
Parasitic science, parapsychology, alchemy, magic, necromancy, occultism, satanism, witchcraft, magnetism
Paraphilic eroticism, sadomasochism, perversion
Drugs (eg alcohol, opium, morphine, mushroom extracts, animal elixirs)
(Alb) dream and reality
Melancholy, depression, resignation, despair, longing for death
Hysteria, obsession, madness
Relationship with gothic literature
The Gothic novel, very popular in England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, is known for its incorporation of common elements with dark romanticism. It was born with the work of Horace Walpole The castle of Otranto in 1764. 8 Gothic works commonly aspire to inspire terror, through the incorporation of macabre and supernatural elements, haunted houses, etc. Critics often refer to “very melodramatic stagings and totally predictable plots.” In general, darkness and the supernatural are common elements, and disturbed characters or vampires, but the Gothic novel tends more to terror, while dark romanticism is preferentially fixed in the dark mystery and skepticism about the human condition. However, the Gothic novel powerfully influenced authors such as Poe.
Authors of early English romanticism such as Lord Byron, ST Coleridge, Mary Shelley, John Shek and John William Polidori have frequently been associated with both currents. His stories and poems often reflect cases of social maladjustment, great soulish torments and uncertainty about whether human nature will save or destroy the protagonists.
Most important authors
The aforementioned Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville are traditionally considered the central authors of dark romanticism.
Edgar Allan Poe
It is usually considered that this author is the one who inaugurated the current. Much of his stories and poems is notable for his exploration of human psychology, particularly in regard to impulses, whether conscious or unconscious, of perversity and self-destruction. 12 Works of dark romanticism: stories such as Ligeia and The Fall of the Usher House and poems such as El Cuervo and Ulalume.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is the author of the dark romanticism that shows more links with transcendentalism. He was associated with this movement, and even lived in the Brook Farm, a transcendentalist utopian commune, although later he dissociated himself from the movement and his works are considered clearly anti-transcendental. 13 Also tormented by the participation of his ancestors in the Salem Trials, Hawthorne reveals in works like The Black Veil of the Preacher, his tendency to “tell tales about the extremes to which man’s individualism and relationships can lead. dependence”. In his background, always, guilt and sin are inherent qualities of man.
He was well known in life for his travel books, but the critics of the twentieth century have rescued capital works such as Moby-Dick and Bartleby, the clerk. Melville wrote about the blind ambition of the human being, his cruelty and the challenge to God. His themes about madness, mystery and the triumph of evil over good in the two great works mentioned, make it a notable example of dark romanticism.
Works of dark romanticism
The birthmark (1843) of Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Black Veil of the Preacher (1843) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville
Bartleby, the scribe (1856) of Herman Melville
Ligeia (1838) by Edgar Allan Poe
The fall of the house Usher (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe
The Crow (poem) (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe
Ulalume (1847) by Edgar Allan Poe
Silence (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe
Marquis de Sade (1740-1814): Juliette
Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853): The Runesberg
Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818): The Monk (1796)
ETA Hoffmann (1776-1822): The Elixirs of the Devil, The Sandman
Lord Byron (1788-1824): Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
Mary Shelley (1797-1851): Frankenstein
Gérard de Nerval (1808-1855): Aurélia
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The sinking of the house Usher
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867): The flowers of evil
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880): The temptation of St. Anthony
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909): Tristram of Lyonesse
Northrop Frye pointed to the dangers of the demonic myth making of the dark side of romanticism as seeming “to provide all the disadvantages of superstition with none of the advantages of religion”.
Source from Wikipedia