Framing the Romantic Artist: Goethe’s Torquato Tasso and James’s Roderick Hudson

Timo Müller 1
  • 1 Universität Konstanz, Regensburg, Germany
Timo Müller

Abstract

Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Torquato Tasso (1790) and Henry James’s Roderick Hudson (1875) share not only a number of structural parallels but also an interest in the fate of the romantic artist in a regulated society. The article suggests Goethe’s play as a possible influence on James’s novel. After a brief outline of James’s relationship to Goethe and of the structural parallels between the texts, the article discusses the similarities of their stance on the romantic artist. Both texts contrast the protagonist’s classicist-idealist art with his broadly romantic personality, both remain ambivalent about the romantic conception of the poet-genius, and both take an analytical attitude toward their artist figures. On this poetological level, the article concludes, their portraits of a proto-Romantic and a late Romantic respectively form a revealing historical frame of the phenomenon of the Romantic artist.

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A renowned journal of English philology, Anglia was founded in 1878 by Moritz Trautmann and Richard P. Wülker. It is thus the oldest journal of English Studies in existence. Anglia publishes essays on the English language and linguistic history, on English literature of the Middle Ages and the modern period, on American literature, on new literatures in English, as well as on general and comparative literary studies.

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