Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > Shakespeare on the Continent > Shakespeare’s influence on German Eighteenth Century Literature: on the French Romantic School
  The Romantic School: A. W. Schlegel and his Fellow Workers German Shakespearean Scholarship in the Nineteenth Century  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

XII. Shakespeare on the Continent.

§ 21. Shakespeare’s influence on German Eighteenth Century Literature: on the French Romantic School.


The foregoing account of Shakespeare’s gradual naturalisation in Germany in the eighteenth century would be incomplete without some indication of what Shakespeare meant for the development of German literature itself. His influence in Germany from Borck to Schlegel can hardly be exaggerated; and it may be said without paradox that the entire efflorescence of German eighteenth century literature would have been otherwise—have stood much nearer to the main movement of European literature in that century—had it not been for Shakespeare. It was he who awakened the Germanic spirit in modern German literature and pointed out to Germany how the traditions of the renascence poetics might be abandoned; it was he who freed the intellectual growth of northern Europe from the clogging presence of influences Latin in their origin. With Lessing, Shakespeare first became a mighty force in Germany, and, with Goethe, whose Götz von Berlichingen appeared in 1773, and the group of gifted playwrights who followed in Goethe’s footsteps, he brought the tyranny of the “rules” in Germany to an end. Wieland’s translation, with all its defects, gave the German theatre a new language and a new form of expression; and, under Shakespeare’s guidance, the drama found its way into a romantic fairy-world of which the French classic stage knew nothing—above all, plays likeRomeo and Juliet, Othello and The Merchant of Venice first revealed to the Germans the poetic charm of Italy. There was thus hardly a question round which controversy raged in the German literature of the eighteenth century with which the English poet was not in some way bound up.   28

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  The Romantic School: A. W. Schlegel and his Fellow Workers German Shakespearean Scholarship in the Nineteenth Century  
 
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