I've complained before, and I'll complain again, about the poor presence of 19th century German-language literature in English. Reading Gotthelf and von Droste-Hülshoff provides another clue as to why this might be.
Most of the first cohort of German Romantics were gone by the time Goethe died, age 82. Hoffmann was gone, Heinrich von Kleist, Novalis, Schiller. Hölderlin was still alive, but basically insane and unproductive.
With the important exception of Heinrich Heine, almost every major German-language writer in the next generation or two was a sort of regionalist. Jeremias Gotthelf and Gottfried Keller in Switzerland, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff in Westphalia, Edouard Mörike in Swabia, Adalbert Stifter in Austria, Theodor Storm in Schleswig-Holstein.
All of these writers wrote about where they were from, sometimes exclusively. I wonder if that makes them look minor to outsiders? Unambitious. It can't help that they all specialized in lyric poems, hard to translate, and/or novellas and tales, which have their own prestige problem, rather than big fat novels (excepting Keller's Green Henry and Stifter's two novels). Not so long ago, "regionalist" was almost a term of abuse in the United States, a way to dismiss a writer. This reader prefers small and perfect to ambitious and flawed, and in the right hands I'm as happy out in the provinces as in Paris or London or New York. But other readers seem only to want attempts at the Great German/ Russian/ American Novel.
Penguin Classics has kept Mörike in print, so someone is reading, or teaching him. And I came across a rumor that NYRB is republishing Stifter's Rock Crystal next fall. So there's some good news. To NYRB: there's a lot more good stuff where that came from! Green Henry? The Black Spider?