Jena Romanticism (German: Jenaer Romantik; also the Jena Romantics or Early Romanticism (Frühromantik)) is the first phase of Romanticism in German literature represented by the work of a group centred in Jena from about 1798 to 1804. The movement is considered to have contributed to the development of German idealism in late modern philosophy.[1]


The group of Jena Romantics was led by Caroline Schlegel, who hosted their meetings.[2] Two members of the group, brothers August Wilhelm and Friedrich von Schlegel, who laid down the theoretical basis for Romanticism in the circle’s organ, the Athenaeum, maintained that the first duty of criticism was to understand and appreciate the right of genius to follow its natural bent.

The greatest imaginative achievement of this circle is to be found in the lyrics and two fragmentary novels by Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, better known by his pseudonym "Novalis".[3] The works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling expounded the Romantic doctrine in philosophy, whereas the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher demonstrated the necessity of individualism in religious thought.[4] Other notable representatives of the movement include August Ludwig Hülsen[5] and Friedrich Hölderlin.[6]

By 1804, the circle in Jena had dispersed. A second phase of Romanticism was initiated two years later in Heidelberg with Heidelberg Romanticism and in Berlin with Berlin Romanticism.

See also


  1. ^ Frederick C. Beiser, German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781-1801, Harvard University Press, 2002, p. viii: "the young romantics—Hölderlin, Schlegel, Novalis—[were] crucial figures in the development of German idealism."
  2. ^ "The 'Jena Set' | History Today".
  3. ^ Joel Faflak, Julia M. Wright (eds.), A Handbook of Romanticism Studies, John Wiley & Sons, 2016, p. 334.
  4. ^ Despite the fact that Schleiermacher did not work in Jena, he was deeply influenced by the writings of the Jena Romantics (see Paola Mayer, Jena Romanticism and Its Appropriation of Jakob Böhme, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999, p. 101).
  5. ^ Ezequiel L. Posesorski, Between Reinhold and Fichte: August Ludwig Hülsen's Contribution to the Emergence of German Idealism. Karlsruhe: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, 2012, p. 199.
  6. ^ Paul Redding, Continental Idealism: Leibniz to Nietzsche, Routledge, 2009, ch. 8.