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 one of the supreme exponents of the tradition.
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.
Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance. Its origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story". The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of Romantic literary pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel. It originated in England in the second half of the 18th century where, following Walpole, it was further developed by Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe, William Thomas Beckford and Matthew Lewis. The genre had much success in the 19th century, as witnessed in prose by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe as well as Charles Dickens with his novella, A Christmas Carol, and in poetry in the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron. Another well known novel in this genre, dating from the late Victorian era, is Bram Stoker's Dracula. The name Gothic, which originally referred to the Goths, and then came to mean "German", refers to the medieval Gothic architecture, in which many of these stories take place. This extreme form of Romanticism was very popular throughout Europe, especially among English- and German-language writers and artists. The English Gothic novel also led to new novel types such as the German Schauerroman and the French Roman Noir.
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
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’’.
Mario Praz KBE was an Italian-born critic of art and literature, and a scholar of English literature. His best-known book, The Romantic Agony (1933), was a comprehensive survey of the erotic and morbid themes that characterized European authors of the late 18th and 19th centuries. See Femme fatale for a reference of one of his chapters. The book was written and published first in Italian as La carne, la morte e il diavolo nella letteratura romantica in 1930 [see Wikipedia page on Mario Praz in Italian], and the most recent edition was published in Firenze: Sansoni, 1996.
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:
Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil, and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.
Satan, also known as the Devil, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood. In Christianity and Islam, he is usually seen as either a fallen angel or a jinn, who used to possess great piety and beauty, but rebelled against God, who nevertheless allows him temporary power over the fallen world and a host of demons. In Judaism, Satan is typically regarded as a metaphor for the yetzer hara, or "evil inclination", or as an agent subservient to God.
A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in many and various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force.
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.
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.
Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was a German Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffmann appears as the hero. He is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumann's Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmann's character Johannes Kreisler.
Christian Heinrich Spiess was a German writer of romances.
Johann Ludwig Tieck was a German poet, fiction writer, translator, and critic. He was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
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. [ citation needed ] Some Victorian authors of English horror fiction, such as Bram Stoker and Daphne du Maurier, follow in this lineage.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.
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.
Twentieth-century existential novels have also been linked to Dark Romanticism,as too have the sword and sorcery novels of Robert E. Howard.
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".
"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842 in the literary annual The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story describes his experience of being tortured. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed, but critical reception has been mixed. The tale has been adapted to film several times.
Herman Northrop Frye was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century.
The word decadence, which at first meant simply "decline" in an abstract sense, is now most often used to refer to a perceived decay in standards, morals, dignity, religious faith, or skill at governing among the members of the elite of a very large social structure, such as an empire or nation state. By extension, it may refer to a decline in art, literature, science, technology, and work ethics, or to self-indulgent behavior.
The fantastic is a subgenre of literary works characterized by the ambiguous presentation of seemingly supernatural forces.
Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction in American literature that takes place in the American South.
Romantic poetry is the poetry of the Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. It involved a reaction against prevailing Enlightenment ideas of the 18th century, and lasted from 1800 to 1850, approximately.
Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays is a book by Canadian literary critic and theorist, Northrop Frye, which attempts to formulate an overall view of the scope, theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism derived exclusively from literature. Frye consciously omits all specific and practical criticism, instead offering classically inspired theories of modes, symbols, myths and genres, in what he termed "an interconnected group of suggestions." The literary approach proposed by Frye in Anatomy was highly influential in the decades before deconstructivist criticism and other expressions of postmodernism came to prominence in American academia circa 1980s.
The history of literature in the Modern period in Europe begins with the Age of Enlightenment and the conclusion of the Baroque period in the 18th century, succeeding the Renaissance and Early Modern periods.
"The Mystery of Marie Rogêt", often subtitled A Sequel to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe written in 1842. This is the first murder mystery based on the details of a real crime. It first appeared in Snowden's Ladies' Companion in three installments, November and December 1842 and February 1843. Poe referred to it as one of his "tales of ratiocination".
"Ligeia" is an early short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1838. The story follows an unnamed narrator and his wife Ligeia, a beautiful and intelligent raven-haired woman. She falls ill, composes "The Conqueror Worm", and quotes lines attributed to Joseph Glanvill shortly before dying. After her death, the narrator marries the Lady Rowena. Rowena becomes ill and she dies as well. The distraught narrator stays with her body overnight and watches as Rowena slowly comes back from the dead – though she has transformed into Ligeia. The story may be the narrator's opium-induced hallucination and there is debate whether the story was a satire. After the story's first publication in The American Museum, it was heavily revised and reprinted throughout Poe's life.
Joseph A. Citro is a Vermont author and folklorist. Occasionally referred as the "Bard of the Bizarre" or "the Ghost-Master General", he has extensively researched and documented the folklore, hauntings, ghost stories, paranormal activity and occult happenings of New England.
The Decadent movement was a late-19th-century artistic and literary movement, centered in Western Europe, that followed an aesthetic ideology of excess and artificiality. The visual artist Félicien Rops's body of work and Joris-Karl Huysmans's novel Against Nature (1884) are considered the prime examples of the decadent movement. It first flourished in France and then spread throughout Europe and to the United States. The movement was characterized by self-disgust, sickness at the world, general skepticism, delight in perversion and employment of crude humor and a belief in the superiority of human creativity over logic and the natural world.
"The Man of the Crowd" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe about a nameless narrator following a man through a crowded London. It was first published in 1840.
Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque is a collection of previously published short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1840.
American gothic fiction is a subgenre of gothic fiction. Elements specific to American Gothic include: rationality/rational vs irrational, puritanism, guilt, Das Unheimliche, ab-humans, ghosts, monsters, and domestic abjection. The roots of these concepts lay in a past riddled with slavery, a fear of racial mixing (miscegenation), hostile Native American relations, their subsequent genocide, urban or societal decay, such as in the post-war South or inner cities during the late-20th century and the daunting wilderness present at the American frontier. American Gothic is often devoid of castles and objects which allude to a civilized history. Differentiating between horror and terror is important in the study of these texts.
The works of American author Edgar Allan Poe include many poems, short stories, and one novel. His fiction spans multiple genres, including horror fiction, adventure, science fiction, and detective fiction, a genre he is credited with inventing. These works are generally considered part of the Dark romanticism movement, a literary reaction to Transcendentalism. Poe's writing reflects his literary theories: he disagreed with didacticism and allegory. Meaning in literature, he said in his criticism, should be an undercurrent just beneath the surface; works whose meanings are too obvious cease to be art. Poe pursued originality in his works, and disliked proverbs. He often included elements of popular pseudosciences such as phrenology and physiognomy. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Though known as a masterly practitioner of Gothic fiction, Poe did not invent the genre; he was following a long-standing popular tradition.
Urban Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction, film horror and television dealing with industrial and post-industrial urban society. It was pioneered in the mid-19th century in Britain, Ireland and the United States and developed in British novels such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), and Irish novels such as Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). In the twentieth century, urban Gothic influenced the creation of the subgenres of Southern Gothic and suburban Gothic. From the 1980s, interest in the urban Gothic revived with books like Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and a number of graphic novels that drew on dark city landscapes, leading to adaptations in film including Batman (1989), The Crow (1994) and From Hell (2001), as well as influencing films like Seven (1995).
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. Various dates are given for the Romantic period but here the publishing of William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in 1798 is taken as the beginning, and the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 as its end. Romanticism arrived later in other parts of the English-speaking world, such as America.