The Romantic (Be)Longing and National Poets: Imagining a Nation in European 19th-Century Literatures
National poets are a phenomenon known in many European countries since it has significantly contributed to the formation of individual literary cultures throughout the long nineteenth century. The significance ascribed to particular national poets (in some cases, more candidates for this position existed) varied across Europe and usually depended on whether the emerging nations were politically or culturally subordinate. In most of the national literatures, the venerated figures originate in the Romantic age. The comparative research of posthumous careers of poets such as Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Burns, Sándor Petőfi, Hristo Botev, Mihai Eminescu, Karel H. Mácha, France Prešeren, Taras Ševčenko, and Jónas Hallgrímsson has revealed that the patterns of their canonization were very similar – turning them into “cultural saints.” Nonetheless, compared to their afterlives, their opuses seem to be much more diverse. Within the canonization process, these poets were always given special credit in terms of contributing immensely to the “national cause.” In practice, however, the close reading of their texts reveals a variety of stances, attitudes, and ideas that do not always comply with the ideals of the mainstream leaders of nationalist movements. In this panel, we would like to research the ways of how, in their texts, the “national poets” and other key Romantic writers imagined their respective nation and its future prospects. How do the belonging to an imagined community and longing for its emancipation mark their texts? How have the subsequent generations of writers, scholars, and politicians interpreted, misinterpreted or appropriated the legacy of Romantic ideas during the process of canonization? Welcome are contributions about “cultural saints” and other key Romantic writers whose work represents the longing for and belonging to a nation.