As the reader is undoubtedly aware, Romanticism has always been eyed with suspicion when it comes to its applications outside the realm of aesthetics. With its staunch defense of the individual and its firm belief in the power of individuality, Romanticism has indeed been appropriated for varied purposes, amongst them the political. The degree of success or the dangerousness of its application in this particular aspect can, however, be perceived not as a direct consequence of the principles of the Romantic movement, but rather of its interpretation. Romanticism's influence is, therefore, like that of any other movement, primarily an interaction with the unavoidable realms of societal and historical factors. Susceptible to appropriation and incorporation into wider systems of thought, the movement is nevertheless sufficiently malleable to have survived since its creation, eschewing potential claims as to its outdatedness.
Thus, focusing on Romanticism's more recent interactions and incarnations, one can ask: what is the link between a Romantic poet, a political theorist and a post-modern novelist? Before engaging in a more in depth exercise of literary analysis, a brief overview is warranted.
In 2017, the author and journalist Philip Oltermann published an article in The Guardian in which he simultaneously identified and denounced a new literary movement in Germany, along with one of its most notable representatives. The movement is that of “ultra-romanticism,” spearheaded by Simon Strauss and his novel Sieben Nächte (Seven Nights), in particular. In the article, Oltermann investigates how this new form of Romanticism has its links to the social discontents of “anti-liberal” parts of society and warns of its potential fueling of “anti-liberal” movements and the far-right.
Unfortunately, this is one of the many examples in which we can establish links between Romanticism's legacy and the far-right (Thomas Mann's description of National Socialism as “Romantic barbarism” comes to mind). However, if it is true that the relationship of Romanticism with right-wing politics is an ambiguous affair (its focus on nationalism, patriotism, individualism, etc.), it is also undeniable that Romanticism remains one of the most powerful movements for progress and revolution.