Born in the Romantic Movement
Story and photos by John Blanchette
Inspiring views created some of the world's greatest
masterpieces. Here is the waterfront in Lucerne.
espite Harry Limes assertion in Graham Greenes The
Third Man that Switzerlands contribution to world culture
is the cuckoo clock and chocolate, there is a long tradition of artistic
achievement in this tiny country of six million.
In fact it is a country that so loves their artists
that their profiles grace Swiss Francs rather than those of politicians.
owes much of its tourism to the Romantic poets. In the 18th and 19th
Century, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Wordsworth, Rousseau, the English painter
J.M.W. Turner and others discovered the beauty of this land and promoted
In the past the impregnable mountains and snow covered
peaks of the Alps were to be feared and avoided. The Romantic Movement
in art and poetry changed all this forever with the Cult of Landscape,
and Switzerland became a destination for the young English nobility
taking the Grand Tour.
Much of the intellectual history of the modern world
has its roots in Swiss soil. Many creative souls have produced some
of their greatest masterpieces here and thrived on one of the worlds
most beautiful and inspiring canvases. Switzerland became a destination
for the world's greatest writers, poets and philosophers.
T.S. Eliot wrote The Wasteland while living
in Lausanne. Herman Hesse lived in the hills above Lugano for over 25
year. Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" while touring through
Other notable residents included James Joyce, Thomas
Mann, Henry James, Voltaire, Dickens, Stravinsky, Vladimir Nabokov and
Charlie Chaplin. Peter Ustinov lived in a hotel in Montreux and currently
singers Tina Turner, Shania Twain, and Phil Collins call Switzerland
It could be argued that the greatest poem and novel
of the 20th century were created in Switzerland, Eliot's "The Wasteland"
and James Joyce's "Ulysses." Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Dostoyevsky,
Hugo and many other writers came to Switzerland for the creative stimulus.
Even Lenin wrote his manifesto in Zurich before returning to Russia
for the Revolution in 1917.
Kronenhalle restaurant was a famous haunt of expatriate writers and
artists and the walls are full of work traded for meals. James Joyce
regularly got the corner table and Giacometti, Chagall, Picasso and
Miro are among the artists represented on the walls.
It is a country with over 400 museums. In 2005 the Paul
Klee Center opened in Bern to celebrate the work of the countrys
greatest home-grown artist.
The cities of Vevey, Montreux and Lavaux, which lie
next to each other along the banks of Lake Geneva, have published The
Poets Ramble, a guide to famous artists who have lived in
the area. Over 40 of the worlds greatest thinkers, artists and
writers were inspired by the beauty of this land. The book is available
Town of Vevey's stunning beauty was muse to many
of the world's greatest artists.
By the way, Harry Limes creator, Graham Green,
lived and worked in Switzerland for many years and is buried in Vevey,
the city where Swiss chocolate was created, and presumably, cuckoo clocks
still keep the time.
Dada and Business Class; Zurich
Express, Switzerland; Swiss
rail trips; Eichhorn
Schwyzerorgelfabrik and Musikhaus