Romantic Irony

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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According to Goethe, “irony” is “ein gewagtes Wort” (“a risky word”,

Die Farbenlehre

, [

Theory of Colors

], Preface 1808), especially combined with the vague designation “romantic”. Although

romantische Ironie

(romantic irony) is considered a key concept of romantic literature and gained wide currency among critics and philosophers of the last two centuries, surprisingly the term itself does not occur in the publications of the German romantics – only in Friedrich Schlegel’s private notes (

Literary Notebooks

, ed. Hans Eichner, 1957). It was Hermann Hettner who disseminated “romantic irony” as a theoretical term (

Die romantische Schule

, 1850). Before the Age of Romanticism (see German Romanticism), “irony” was well established both as a maieutic term referring to…

1610 words

Citation: Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Romantic Irony". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 August 2007 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

576 Romantic Irony 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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