British interest in German literature rose steeply in the years around 1780, and remained high throughout the Romantic period. The Scots Magazine for 1799 declared that the ‘Literature of Germany seems for some time to have taken the lead among the nations of Europe’. The response was by no means universally favourable; indeed the reputation of the leading German authors was not secure until the 1820s or 1830s. But the controversy surrounding them in the earlier period was perhaps a more genuine tribute to their power than their later Victorian respectability.
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