Waldeinsamkeit: Subjective Abivalence in German Romanticism

By Erin Schwartz.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The halted traveler. They mysterious siren song of nature that pulls one into a dark, alchemistic world of fog and redemption- or madness. These are the themes and images of the German Romantic movement in the early nineteenth century. Of the subjects that find expression in both the literature and paintings of German Romanticism, one of the most predominant is landscape. Within this theme is embedded a sense of Waldeinsamkeit, a suggestive, though difficult to interpret, term that describes the pseudo-magical pull of the untamed wilderness; a place of living nightmares caught between the dreamscape and Fairyland. This paper places in context a small selection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich with the depiction of an ambivalent relationship between man and landscape as portrayed in the works of novelist/poet/dramatist Ludwig Tieck, specifically his novella Der blonde Eckbert (1797). The inter-artistic nature of Romanticism is often glossed over in texts. This paper examines with an interdisciplinary approach, the evocative imagery of Romantic landscape painting and the mystical call of nature in the Romantic fairy tale, both of which stand in opposition to the aesthetic theories of contemporaneous German classicists. German Romanticism is considered primarily a literary movement with a visual arts counterpart, paralleling Romantic movements in other European countries. The interdisciplinary approach will create a synthesized view of Romanticism as it was conceived by artists and writers of the time. In this regard the Romantic notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk can best be explored as it was originally intended.

Keywords: Ludwig Tieck, Caspar David Friedrich, Schopenhauer, Gesamtkunstwerk, German Romanticism

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.201-210. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 528.739KB).

Erin Schwartz

Ohio University, USA


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