This is the first book-length critical study in English of the novels of the German Romantics. Eric A. Blackall gives an account not only of the novels themselves but of the romantic view of the novel as a genre; his thesis is that a revolution in the conception of the novel took place between about 1795 and 1830, most notably in Germany.
We think of the German Romantics primarily as lyric poets and writers of consummately crafted novellas, but almost all of them wrote at least one full-length novel, and some of them wrote several. For them, according to Blackall, the novel replaced tragedy as the most important literary genre. In exploring the implications of this shift, Blackall describes the evolution of the novel in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Then, drawing on the writings of Friedrich Schlegel, he discusses the idea that the novel should represent an extended poetic statement. Finally, in a series of chapters tracing the development of the romantic novel, he treats the works of all the major German romantic novelists: Schlegel himself, Jean Paul, Holderlin, Novalis, Tieck, Brentano, Arnim, "Bonaventura," Hoffmann, and Eichendorff.
Addressing comparatists and students of the novel as well as Germanists, Blackall makes a major contribution to our understanding of German romanticism, the romantic movement, and the history of the novel.
Erle A. Blackall is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Literature and Director of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.
John Fetzer, Professor and Chairman. Department of German, University of California, Davis:
"Blackall's book possesses such a richness of texture, such a wealth of ideas and interpretive skills that it will become a standard reference work for years to come."