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 Düsseldorf, 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 p...
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...f 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.
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