From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- Die Elixiere des Teufels, Genealogy of the Cruel Tale, dark culture, The Romantic Agony, black comedy
Dark romanticism is a literary subgenre that emerged from Romanticism popular in nineteenth-century Europe and the United States. Key writers of the darker strains of Romanticism include E. T. A. Hoffmann in Germany, Lord Byron in England, Edgar Allan Poe in the United States and Charles Baudelaire in France.
Dark Romanticism is connected to the gothic novel. The 'gothic' sensibility flourished in most European literatures. Every European country had its own terminology to denote the sensibility of the gothic novel. In France it was called the roman noir ("black novel", in Germany it was called the Schauerroman ("shudder novel"). Italy and Spain must have had their own, but I am unaware of their names as of yet. In nineteenth century France there also flourished a literature of horror on a par with the English Gothic novel or the German Schauerroman. It was christened 'le roman frénétique'.
Prominent Anglophone examples
Elements contained within the following literary works by Dark Romantic authors make each representative of the subgenre:
- "Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe
- "The Birth-Mark" (1843) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- "The Minister's Black Veil" (1843) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville
- "Bartleby the Scrivener" (1856) by Herman Melville
- "Ligeia" (1838) by Edgar Allan Poe
- "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe
- "Dream-Land" (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe
- "The Raven" (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe
- "Ulalume" (1847) by Edgar Allan Poe
Relation to Gothic fiction
Popular in England during the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries, Gothic fiction is known for its incorporation of many conventions that are also found in Dark Romantic works. Gothic fiction originated with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto in 1764. Works of the genre commonly aim to inspire terror, including through accounts of the macabre and supernatural, haunted structures, and the search for identity; critics often note gothic fiction's "overly melodramatic scenarios and utterly predictable plots." In general, with common elements of darkness and the supernatural, and featuring characters like maniacs and vampires, Gothic fiction is more about sheer terror than Dark Romanticism's themes of dark mystery and skepticism regarding man. Still, the genre came to influence later Dark Romantic works, particularly some of those produced by Poe.
Earlier British authors writing within the movement of Romanticism such as Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and John Polidori who are frequently linked to gothic fiction are also sometimes referred to as Dark Romantics. Their tales and poems commonly feature outcasts from society, personal torment, and uncertainty as to whether the nature of man will bring him salvation or destruction.