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 poems. He remained in Berlin until 1823, writing poetry. From 1824 to 1825 he returned to the study of law in Göttingen. Because the profession of law was prohibited to Jews in Germany at that time, Heine, who was born Jewish, converted to Christianity in 1825 in order to obtain a law degree. He received his degree but never practiced law. In 1826 Die Harzreise (The Harz Journey 1887), a prose account of a trip he had taken to the Harz, a mountain range in central Germany, was published. This work, with its wit and grace of style, won success immediately and established Heine's literary reputation. In 1827 his...