History of Literature









German literature

 

CONTENTS:

Origins and Middle Ages

Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance


The 18th century

The 19th century

The 19th century. Fin de siecle movements

The 20th century





 


German literature
 


The 19th century
 

Ludwig Tieck
Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder
Novalis
August Wilhelm von Schlegel
Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlegel
Achim von Arnim
Clemens Brentano
Joseph Eichendorff

Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm
"Grimms Fairy Tales"   PART I, PART II, PART III

Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
"The Philosophy of History"   PART I,   PART II,   PART III,   PART IV

Sigmund Freud
"The Interpretation of Dreams"
Chapter 1 The Scientific Literature of Dream-Problems (up to 1900)
Chapter 2 The Method of Dream Interpretation
Chapter 3 The Dream as Wish Fulfilment
Chapter 4 Distortion in Dreams
Chapter 5 The Material and Sources of Dreams
Chapter 6 The Dream-Work
Chapter 7 The Psychology of the Dream Process
"Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex"

E.T.A. Hoffmann
Weird Tales. Vol. I, Weird Tales, Vol. II
see also collection Pin-Up Weird Tales

Heinrich Heine
"Poems and Ballads"

Ludwig Borne

Karl Gutzkow
Georg Buchner
Adalbert Stifter
Eduard Friedrich Morike
Annette von Droste-Hulshoff
Karl Immermann
Nikolaus Lenau
Gottfried Keller
Jeremias Gotthelf

Wilhelm Raabe
Theodor Woldsen Storm
Gustav Freytag

Theodor Fontane
Franz Grillparzer
Christian Dietrich Grabbe
Christian Friedrich Hebbel

Gerhart Hauptmann

 




The 19th century



The Romantic Movement

The early years of German Romanticism have been aptly termed the theoretical phase of a movement whose origin can be traced back to the Sturm und Drang era and, beyond Germany itself, to the French philosopher and writer
Jean-Jacques Rousseau. An interest in individual liberty and in nature as a source of poetic inspiration is a common thread in the sequence of the movements Sturm und Drang, Weimar Classicism, and Romanticism, which from one perspective can be regarded as separate phases in a single literary development. Within this framework, the German Romantics forged a distinctive new synthesis of poetry, philosophy, and science. Two generations of Romantic writers are usually distinguished: the older group, composed in part of Ludwig Tieck, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Novalis, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Friedrich and August Wilhelm von Schlegel; and the younger group, comprising Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Joseph Eichendorff, Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm, and the painter Philipp Otto Runge.

 


Ludwig Tieck




 

born May 31, 1773, Berlin, Prussia [Germany]
died April 28, 1853, Berlin


versatile and prolific writer and critic of the early Romantic movement in Germany. He was a born storyteller, and his best work has the quality of a Märchen (fairy tale) that appeals to the emotions rather than the intellect.

The son of a craftsman, Tieck was educated at the Berlin gymnasium (1782–92) and at the universities of Halle, Göttingen, and Erlangen (1792–94). Through friendship with W.H. Wackenroder, he began to realize his talent; together, they studied William Shakespeare, Elizabethan drama, Middle High German literature, and medieval town architecture.

Characteristic of early German Romanticism are Tieck’s Die Geschichte des Herrn William Lovell, 3 vol. (1795–96; “The Story of Mr. William Lovell”), a novel in letter form that describes the moral self-destruction of a sensitive young intellectual; Karl von Berneck (1797), a five-act tragedy set in the Middle Ages; and Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen, 2 vol. (1798), a novel of artistic life in the late Middle Ages. A series of plays based on fairy tales—including Ritter Blaubart (“Bluebeard”) and Der gestiefelte Kater (“Puss in Boots”)—that parodied the rationalism of the 18th-century Enlightenment were published in Volksmärchen (1797), under the pseudonym Peter Leberecht (“live right”). This collection includes one of Tieck’s best short novels, Der blonde Eckbert (“Fair Eckbert”), the fantastic story of an obsessive fear; this work won the praise of August and Friedrich von Schlegel, the leading critics of the Jena Romantics.

In 1799 Tieck published a translation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and he started a translation of Don Quixote (published 1799–1801). His early work culminated in the grotesque, lyrical plays Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva (1800; “The Life and Death of the Holy Genevieve”) and Kaiser Octavianus (1804). Phantasus, 3 vol. (1812–16), a heterogeneous collection of works in a narrative framework, indicated a movement toward realism.

After 1802 Tieck’s creative powers apparently became dormant. He studied Middle High German, collected and translated Elizabethan plays, published new editions of 16th- and 17th-century German plays, and acted as adviser to the Shakespeare translation begun by August von Schlegel. He also published works by such contemporary German writers as Novalis and Heinrich von Kleist.

From 1825 to 1842 Tieck served as adviser and critic at the theatre in Dresden. During those years he became the greatest living literary authority in Germany after J.W. von Goethe. His creative energies were renewed; he turned away from the fantasy of his earlier work and found his material in contemporary middle-class society or history. The 40 short novels of this period contain polemics against both the younger Romantics and the contemporary “Young Germany” movement, which was attempting to establish a national German theatre based on democratic ideals. Dichterleben (“A Poet’s Life”; part 1, 1826; part 2, 1831) concerned the early life of Shakespeare. Vittoria Accorombona (1840; The Roman Matron) was a historical novel. In 1842 he accepted the invitation of Frederick William IV of Prussia to go to Berlin, where he remained the rest of his years, and where, as in Dresden, he became the centre of literary society.
 

 

 


Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder



 

born July 13, 1773, Berlin, Prussia [Germany]
died Feb. 13, 1798, Berlin

writer and critic who was the originator, with his friend Ludwig Tieck, of some of the most important ideas of German Romanticism.

Wackenroder was the son of a senior civil servant whose expectations that he pursue a successful worldly career were incompatible with the boy’s natural sympathies and caused him severe conflict throughout his short lifetime. At school the shy and melancholy Wackenroder, happy only when listening to music, formed a friendship with the more vital and creative Tieck. This friendship was to be of great importance for the work of both men.

After studying with Tieck at the universities of Erlangen (1793) and Göttingen (1793–94), Wackenroder returned to Berlin in 1794. There he was forced into the Prussian civil service by his father, but his preoccupations remained literary. He translated light English novels and wrote anecdotal accounts of the lives of Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. He also wrote a “biography” of Joseph Berglinger, an imaginary musician and a spokesman for Wackenroder’s views on art. In these stories he developed an enthusiastic emotional aesthetic, according to which the perfect work of art is created by a divine miracle and is a moral, aesthetic, and religious unity to be grasped only by the heart, not by the intellect. In 1797, on Tieck’s advice, these writings were published under a title chosen by the publishers, Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders (“Outpourings of an Art-Loving Monk”). In 1799 Tieck published the continuation of Herzensergiessungen (with the addition of some of his own essays) as Phantasien über die Kunst (“Fantasies on Art”). Wackenroder died of typhoid at the age of 24.
 

 

 


Novalis





 

pseudonym of Friedrich Leopold, Freiherr von (baron of) Hardenberg

born May 2, 1772, Oberwiederstedt, Prussian Saxony [Germany]
died March 25, 1801, Weissenfels, Saxony [Germany]

early German Romantic poet and theorist who greatly influenced later Romantic thought.

Novalis was born into a family of Protestant Lower Saxon nobility and took his pseudonym from “de Novali,” a name his family had formerly used. He studied law at the University of Jena (1790), where he became acquainted with Friedrich von Schiller, and then at Leipzig, where he formed a friendship with Friedrich von Schlegel and was introduced to the philosophical ideas of Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He completed his studies at Wittenberg in 1793, and in 1796 he was appointed auditor to the Saxon government saltworks at Weissenfels.

In 1794 Novalis met and fell in love with 12-year-old Sophie von Kühn. They were engaged in 1795, but she died of tuberculosis two years later. Novalis expressed his grief in Hymnen an die Nacht (1800; Hymns to the Night), six prose poems interspersed with verse. In this work Novalis celebrates night, or death, as an entry into a higher life in the presence of God and anticipates a mystical and loving union with Sophie and with the universe as a whole after his own death. In 1797 he went to the Academy of Freiberg to study mining. Novalis became engaged (to Julie von Charpentier) in 1798, and a year later he became a mine inspector at the saltworks at Weissenfels. He died of tuberculosis in 1801.

Novalis’s last years were astonishingly creative, filled with encyclopaedic studies, the draft of a philosophical system based on idealism, and poetic work. Two collections of fragments that appeared during his lifetime, Blütenstaub (1798; “Pollen”) and Glauben und Liebe (1798; “Faith and Love”), indicate his attempt to unite poetry, philosophy, and science in an allegorical interpretation of the world. His mythical romance Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802), set in an idealized vision of the European Middle Ages, describes the mystical and romantic searchings of a young poet. The central image of his visions, a blue flower, became a widely recognized symbol of Romantic longing among Novalis’s fellow Romantics. In the essay Die Christenheit oder Europa (1799; “Christendom or Europe”), Novalis calls for a universal Christian church to restore, in a new age, a Europe whose medieval cultural, social, and intellectual unity had been destroyed by the Reformation and the Enlightenment.
 

 

 


August Wilhelm von Schlegel


born Sept. 8, 1767, Hannover, Hanover [Germany]
died May 12, 1845, Bonn [Germany]


German scholar and critic, one of the most influential disseminators of the ideas of the German Romantic movement, and the finest German translator of William Shakespeare. He was also an Orientalist and a poet.

Schlegel was a son of a Protestant pastor and a nephew of the author Johann Elias Schlegel. He attended school in Hannover and in 1787 began his studies at the University of Göttingen, where he studied classical philology and aesthetics. In 1791 he took a post as a private tutor in Amsterdam, but he moved to Jena in 1796 to write for Friedrich Schiller’s short-lived periodical Die Horen. Thereafter, Schlegel—with his brother Friedrich Schlegel—started the periodical Athenäum (1798–1800), which became the organ of German Romanticism, numbering Friedrich Schleiermacher and Novalis among its contributors.

In 1798 Schlegel became a professor at the University of Jena, where he began his long-planned translation of the works of Shakespeare (1797–1810). He himself translated 17 plays; the remaining works were translated by Ludwig Tieck’s daughter Dorothea and by Wolf Heinrich von Baudissin under Tieck’s supervision (1825–33). Schlegel’s translations of Shakespeare became the standard German translation of that author and are among the finest of all German literary translations. Schlegel’s incomplete translations of five plays by Calderón de la Barca (Spanisches Theater, 2 vol., 1803–09) likewise show his gift for carrying the spirit of foreign literary works over into German, as do his selected translations of Petrarch, Dante, Giovanni Boccaccio, Miguel de Cervantes, Torquato Tasso, and Luís de Camões in Blumensträusse italiänischer, spanischer, und portugiesischer Poesie (1804; “Bouquets of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese Poetry”).

In 1796 Schlegel married the brilliant Caroline Michaelis, but in 1803 she left him for the philosopher Friedrich W.J. Schelling. In 1801 Schlegel went to Berlin, where he lectured on literature and art. In his lectures, he comprehensively surveyed the history of European literature and thought, casting scorn on Greco-Roman classicism and the Enlightenment and instead exalting the timeless spirituality of the Middle Ages. These lectures were later published as Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst (1884; “Lectures on Fine Art and Literature”). After his divorce from Michaelis, Schlegel accompanied Mme de Staël on travels in Germany, Italy, France, and Sweden, where he served in 1813–14 as press secretary to the crown prince Bernadotte. The series of important lectures Schlegel gave while in Vienna in 1808, published as Über dramatische Kunst und Literatur (1809–11; Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature), attack French Neoclassical theatre, praise Shakespeare, and exalt Romantic drama. These lectures were translated into many languages and helped spread fundamental Romantic ideas throughout Europe.

In 1818 Schlegel went to the University of Bonn, where he remained the rest of his life as professor of literature. There he published the scholarly journal Indische Bibliothek, 3 vol. (1820–30), and set up a Sanskrit printing press, with which he printed editions of the Bhagavadgītā (1823) and Rāmāyana (1829). He founded Sanskrit studies in Germany.

Critics of Schlegel’s poetry (Gedichte, 1800; Ion, a tragedy based on Euripides, 1803; Poetische Werke, 1811) concede that it shows mastery of form but that it amounts to only cultivated verse. As a critic of poetry he has been described as more empirical and systematic and less speculative than his brother Friedrich. Schlegel’s view of world literature as an organic whole influenced Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His collected works were edited by E. Böcking and published in 12 volumes in 1846–47; his letters were edited by J. Körner and published in 1930.
 

 

 


Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlegel




 

born March 10, 1772, Hannover, Hanover
died Jan. 12, 1829, Dresden, Saxony


German writer and critic, originator of many of the philosophical ideas that inspired the early German Romantic movement. Open to every new idea, he reveals a rich store of projects and theories in his provocative Aperçus and Fragmente (contributed to the Athenäum and other journals); his conception of a universal, historical, and comparative literary scholarship has had profound influence.

Schlegel was a nephew of the author Johann Elias Schlegel. After studying at Göttingen and Leipzig, he became closely associated with his elder brother August Wilhelm Schlegel at Jena in the quarterly Athenäum. He believed that Greek philosophy and culture were essential to complete education. Influenced also by J.G. Fichte’s transcendental philosophy, he developed his conception of the Romantic—that poetry should be at once philosophical and mythological, ironic and religious. But his imaginative work, a semi-autobiographical novel fragment Lucinde (1799; Eng. trans., 1913–15), and a tragedy Alarcos (1802) were less successful.

In 1801 Schlegel was briefly lecturer at Jena University, but in 1802 he went to Paris with Dorothea Veit, the eldest daughter of Moses Mendelssohn and the divorced wife of Simon Veit. He married her in 1804. In Paris he studied Sanskrit, publishing Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (1808), the first attempt at comparative Indo-Germanic linguistics and the starting point of the study of Indian languages and comparative philology. In 1808 he and his wife became Roman Catholics, and he united his concept of Romanticism with ideas of medieval Christendom. He became the ideological spokesman of the anti-Napoleonic movement for German liberation, serving in the Vienna chancellery (1809) and helping to write the appeal to the German people issued by the archduke Charles. He had already edited two periodicals on the arts, Europa and Deutsches Museum; in 1820 he became editor of the right-wing Catholic paper Concordia, and his attack in it on the beliefs that he had earlier cherished led to a breach with his brother.

Two series of lectures Schlegel gave in Vienna between 1810 and 1812 (Über die neuere Geschichte, 1811; A Course of Lectures on Modern History, 1849 and Geschichte der alten und neueren Literatur, 1815; Lectures on the History of Literature, 1818) developed his concept of a “new Middle Ages.” His collected works were first issued in 10 volumes in 1822–25, augmented to 15 volumes in 1846. His correspondence with his brother was published in 1890 and that with Dorothea was edited (1926) by J. Körner, who wrote major studies of the brothers.
 

 

 


Achim von Arnim


byname of Karl Joachim Friedrich Ludwig von Arnim

born Jan. 26, 1781, Berlin, Prussia [Germany]
died Jan. 21, 1831, Wiepersdorf, Brandenburg


folklorist, dramatist, poet, and story writer whose collection of folk poetry was a major contribution to German Romanticism.

Arnim was descended from a Prussian noble family. His father was Joachim Erdmann von Arnim (1741-1804), associated with the Prussian court and, among other roles, active as the Director of the Berlin theater. His mother, Amalia Carlonia Labes (1761-1781), died immediately after Arnim's birth.

Arnim spent his childhood with a grandmother in Berlin. He went on to study law and natural science at Halle and Göttingen, though he inclined from the first towards literature. His early writings included numerous articles for scientific magazines. He went on to travel through Europe with his brother, Carl Otto Ludwig, from 1801 to 1804. He published the important romantic Zeitung für Einsiedler (Newspaper for Hermits) in Heidelberg in 1808.

Arnim was influenced by the earlier writings of Goethe and Herder, from which he learned to appreciate the beauties of German traditional legends and folk songs. Forming a collection of these, published the result (1806-1808), in collaboration with Clemens Brentano under the title Des Knaben Wunderhorn. He married Brentano's sister Bettina in 1811, who won wide recognition as a writer in her own right, and his daughter Gisela (one of five children) became a writer as well.

He lived in Berlin from 1809, worked on Heinrich von Kleist's paper there and founded the political union "Deutsche Tischgesellschaft" . From October 1813 to February 1814 he was publisher of the Berlin paper "The Prussian Correspondent." He remained connected with the Prussian patriots (Adam Heinrich Müller, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Heinrich von Kleist.) He moved in 1814 to his family home, Schloss Wiepersdorf, where he remained until his death by heart attack in 1831. His output, published in newspapers, magazines and almanacs as well as self-contained books, included novels, dramas, stories, poems and journalistic works. Following his death, his library was taken over by the Weimar court library. He is considered one of the most important representatives of German Romanticism.
 

 

 


Clemens Brentano



 

born Sept. 9, 1778, Ehrenbreitstein, near Koblenz [Germany]
died July 28, 1842, Aschaffenburg, Bavaria


poet, novelist, and dramatist, one of the founders of the Heidelberg Romantic school, the second phase of German Romanticism, which emphasized German folklore and history.

Brentano’s mother, Maximiliane Brentano, was J.W. von Goethe’s friend in 1772–74, and Brentano’s sister, Bettina von Arnim, was a correspondent of Goethe’s. As a student in Jena, Brentano became acquainted with Friedrich von Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, the leaders of Jena Romanticism, the first phase of German Romanticism. Giving up his studies, Brentano traveled throughout Germany. Settling temporarily in Heidelberg, he met Achim von Arnim, with whom he published the collection of German folk songs Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805–08), which became an important inspiration to later German lyric poets.

Among Brentano’s most successful works are his fairy tales, particularly Gockel, Hinkel and Gackeleia (1838). His novella Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und dem schönen Annerl (1817; The Story of the Just Casper and Fair Annie) displays themes from German folklore within a fantasy atmosphere. His other major works include the dramas Ponce de Leon (1801) and Die Gründung Prags (1815; “The Foundation of Prague”) and the novel Godwi (1801), which forms an important link between the older and the newer forms of Romanticism.

Brentano was known for his imagination and the extraordinarily musical quality of his lyric poetry. His personal life, too, reflected the atmosphere associated with the German Romantics. Emotionally unstable and given to extremes of character and mood, he led a troubled and unsettled life. In 1817 he suffered a severe depression and turned to Roman Catholic mysticism, spending six years in a monastery.
 

 

 


Joseph Eichendorff





 

born , March 10, 1788, near Ratibor, Prussia
died Nov. 26, 1857, Neisse


poet and novelist, considered one of the great German Romantic lyricists.

From a family of Silesian nobility, Eichendorff studied law at Heidelberg (1807), where he published his first verse and became acquainted with the circle of Romantics. Continuing his studies in Berlin (1809–10), he met the leaders of the Romantic national movement. When the Prussian war of liberation broke out in 1813, Eichendorff enlisted in the Lützowsche Freikorps and fought against Napoleon.

The French Revolution appears in the novella Das Schloss Dürande (1837; “Castle Dürande”) and in the epic poem Robert und Guiscard (1855). The Napoleonic Wars, which brought about the decline of the Eichendorff family and the loss of the Lubowitz castle, are the sources of nostalgia in his poetry. During these war years he wrote two of his most important prose works: a long Romantic novel, Ahnung und Gegenwart, (1819; “Premonition and Present”), which is pervaded by the hopelessness and despair of the political situation and the need for a spiritual, rather than a political, cure for moral ills; and Novellen des Marmorbilds (1819; “Novellas of a Marble Statue”), which contains supernatural elements and is described by Eichendorff as a fairy tale. After the war he held posts in the Prussian civil service in Danzig and Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) and, after 1831, in Berlin. Eichendorff’s poetry of this period (Gedichte, 1837), particularly the poems expressing his special sensitivity to nature, gained the popularity of folk songs and inspired such composers as Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Richard Strauss. In 1826 he published his most important prose work, Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing, 1955), which, with its combination of the dreamlike and the realistic, is considered a high point of Romantic fiction. In 1844 he retired from the civil service to devote himself entirely to his writing, publishing his history of German literature and several translations of Spanish authors.
 

 

 


Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm

"Grimms Fairy Tales"    PART I, PART II, PART III





 

German folklorists and linguists
German Brüder Grimm
Main
German brothers famous for their classic collections of folk songs and folktales. Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm (b. Jan. 4, 1785, Hanau, Hesse-Kassel [Germany]—d. Sept. 20, 1863, Berlin) and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (b. Feb. 24, 1786, Hanau, Hesse-Kassel [Germany]—d. Dec. 16, 1859, Berlin) were best known for Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812–22; also called Grimm’s Fairy Tales), which led to the birth of the science of folklore. Jacob especially did important work in historical linguistics and Germanic philology.

Beginnings and Kassel period
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were the oldest in a family of five brothers and one sister. Their father, Philipp Wilhelm, a lawyer, was town clerk in Hanau and later justiciary in Steinau, another small Hessian town, where his father and grandfather had been ministers of the Calvinistic Reformed Church. The father’s death in 1796 brought social hardships to the family; the death of the mother in 1808 left 23-year-old Jacob with the responsibility of four brothers and one sister. Jacob, a scholarly type, was small and slender with sharply cut features, while Wilhelm was taller, had a softer face, and was sociable and fond of all the arts.

After attending the high school in Kassel, the brothers followed their father’s footsteps and studied law at the University of Marburg (1802–06) with the intention of entering civil service. At Marburg they came under the influence of Clemens Brentano, who awakened in both a love of folk poetry, and Friedrich Karl von Savigny, cofounder of the historical school of jurisprudence, who taught them a method of antiquarian investigation that formed the real basis of all their later work. Others, too, strongly influenced the Grimms, particularly the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), with his ideas on folk poetry. Essentially, they remained individuals, creating their work according to their own principles.

In 1805 Jacob accompanied Savigny to Paris to do research on legal manuscripts of the Middle Ages; the following year he became secretary to the war office in Kassel. Because of his health, Wilhelm remained without regular employment until 1814. After the French entered in 1806, Jacob became private librarian to King Jérôme of Westphalia in 1808 and a year later auditeur of the Conseil d’État but returned to Hessian service in 1813 after Napoleon’s defeat. As secretary to the legation, he went twice to Paris (1814–15), to recover precious books and paintings taken by the French from Hesse and Prussia. He also took part in the Congress of Vienna (September 1814–June 1815). Meantime, Wilhelm had become secretary at the Elector’s library in Kassel (1814), and Jacob joined him there in 1816.

By that time the brothers had definitely given up thoughts of a legal career in favour of purely literary research. In the years to follow they lived frugally and worked steadily, laying the foundations for their lifelong interests. Their whole thinking was rooted in the social and political changes of their time and the challenge these changes held. Jacob and Wilhelm had nothing in common with the fashionable “Gothic” Romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries. Their state of mind made them more Realists than Romantics. They investigated the distant past and saw in antiquity the foundation of all social institutions of their days. But their efforts to preserve these foundations did not mean that they wanted to return to the past. From the beginning, the Grimms sought to include material from beyond their own frontiers—from the literary traditions of Scandinavia, Spain, The Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, England, Serbia, and Finland.

They first collected folk songs and tales for their friends Achim von Arnim and Brentano, who had collaborated on an influential collection of folk lyrics in 1805, and the brothers examined in some critical essays the essential difference between folk literature and other writing. To them, folk poetry was the only true poetry, expressing the eternal joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears of mankind.

Encouraged by Arnim, they published their collected tales as the Kinder- und Hausmärchen, implying in the title that the stories were meant for adults and children alike. In contrast to the extravagant fantasy of the Romantic school’s poetical fairy tales, the 200 stories of this collection (mostly taken from oral sources, though a few were from printed sources) aimed at conveying the soul, imagination, and beliefs of people through the centuries—or at a genuine reproduction of the teller’s words and ways. The great merit of Wilhelm Grimm is that he gave the fairy tales a readable form without changing their folkloric character. The results were threefold: the collection enjoyed wide distribution in Germany and eventually in all parts of the globe (there are now translations in 70 languages); it became and remains a model for the collecting of folktales everywhere; and the Grimms’ notes to the tales, along with other investigations, formed the basis for the science of the folk narrative and even of folklore. To this day the tales remain the earliest “scientific” collection of folktales.

The Kinder- und Hausmärchen was followed by a collection of historical and local legends of Germany, Deutsche Sagen (1816–18), which never gained wide popular appeal, though it influenced both literature and the study of the folk narrative. The brothers then published (in 1826) a translation of Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, prefacing the edition with a lengthy introduction of their own on fairy lore. At the same time, the Grimms gave their attention to the written documents of early literature, bringing out new editions of ancient texts, from both the Germanic and other languages. Wilhelm’s outstanding contribution was Die deutsche Heldensage (“The German Heroic Tale”), a collection of themes and names from heroic legends mentioned in literature and art from the 6th to the 16th centuries, together with essays on the art of the saga.

While collaborating on these subjects for two decades (1806–26), Jacob also turned to the study of philology with an extensive work on grammar, the Deutsche Grammatik (1819–37). The word deutsch in the title does not mean strictly “German,” but it rather refers to the etymological meaning of “common,” thus being used to apply to all of the Germanic languages, the historical development of which is traced for the first time. He represented the natural laws of sound change (both vowels and consonants) in various languages and thus created bases for a method of scientific etymology; i.e., research into relationships between languages and development of meaning. In what was to become known as Grimm’s law, Jacob demonstrated the principle of the regularity of correspondence among consonants in genetically related languages, a principle previously observed by the Dane Rasmus Rask. Jacob’s work on grammar exercised an enormous influence on the contemporary study of linguistics, Germanic, Romance, and Slavic, and it remains of value and in use even now. In 1824 Jacob Grimm translated a Serbian grammar by his friend Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, writing an erudite introduction on Slavic languages and literature.

He extended his investigations into the Germanic folk-culture with a study of ancient law practices and beliefs published as Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer (1828), providing systematic source material but excluding actual laws. The work stimulated other publications in France, The Netherlands, Russia, and the southern Slavic countries and has not yet been superseded.


The Göttingen years
The quiet contentment of the years at Kassel ended in 1829, when the brothers suffered a snub—perhaps motivated politically—from the Elector of Hessen-Kassel: they were not given advancement following the death of a senior colleague. Consequently, they moved to the nearby University of Göttingen, where they were appointed librarians and professors. Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, written during this period, was to be of far-reaching influence. From poetry, fairy tales, and folkloristic elements, he traced the pre-Christian faith and superstitions of the Germanic people, contrasting the beliefs to those of classical mythology and Christianity. The Mythologie had many successors all over Europe, but often disciples were not as careful in their judgments as Jacob had been. Wilhelm published here his outstanding edition of Freidank’s epigrams. But again fate overtook them. When Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland, became king of Hanover, he high-handedly repealed the constitution of 1833, which he considered too liberal. Two weeks after the King’s declaration, the Grimms, together with five other professors (the “Göttingen Seven”), sent a protest to the King, explaining that they felt themselves bound by oath to the old constitution. As a result they were dismissed, and three professors, including Jacob, were ordered to leave the kingdom of Hanover at once. Through their part in this protest directed against despotic authority, they clearly demonstrated the academic’s sense of civil responsibilities, manifesting their own liberal convictions at the same time. During three years of exile in Kassel, institutions in Germany and beyond (Hamburg, Marburg, Rostock, Weimar, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Switzerland) tried to obtain the brothers’ services.




The Berlin period
In 1840 they accepted an invitation from the king of Prussia, Frederick William IV, to go to Berlin, where as members of the Royal Academy of Sciences they lectured at the university. There they began work in earnest on their most ambitious enterprise, the Deutsches Wörterbuch, a large German dictionary intended as a guide for the user of the written and spoken word as well as a scholarly reference work. In the dictionary, all German words found in the literature of the three centuries “from Luther to Goethe” were given with their historical variants, their etymology, and their semantic development; their usage in specialized and everyday language was illustrated by quoting idioms and proverbs. Begun as a source of income in 1838 for the brothers after their dismissal from Göttingen, the work required generations of successors to bring the gigantic task to an end more than a hundred years later. Jacob lived to see the work proceed to the letter F, while Wilhelm finished only the letter D. The dictionary became an example for similar publications in other countries: Britain, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Jacob’s philological research later led to a history of the German language, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, in which he attempted to combine the historical study of language with the study of early history. Research into names and dialects was stimulated by Jacob Grimm’s work, as were ways of writing and spelling—for example, he used roman type and advocated spelling German nouns without capital letters.

For some 20 years they worked in Prussia’s capital, respected and free from financial worries. Much of importance can be found in the brothers’ lectures and essays, the prefaces and reviews (Kleinere Schriften) they wrote in this period. In Berlin they witnessed the Revolution of 1848 and took an active part in the political strife of the succeeding years. In spite of close and even emotional ties to their homeland, the Grimms were not nationalists in the narrow sense. They maintained genuine—even political—friendships with colleagues at home and abroad, among them the jurists Savigny and Eichhorn; the historians F.C. Dahlmann, G.G. Gervinus, and Jules Michelet; and the philologists Karl Lachmann, John Mitchell Kemble, Jan Frans Willems, Vuk Karadžić, and Pavel Josef Šafařik. Nearly all academies in Europe were proud to count Jacob and Wilhelm among their members. The more robust Jacob undertook many journeys for scientific investigations, visiting France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden. Jacob remained a bachelor; Wilhelm married Dorothea Wild from Kassel, with whom he had four children: Jacob (who was born and died in 1826), Herman (literary and art historian, 1828–1901), Rudolf (jurist, 1830–89), and Auguste (1832–1919). The graves of the brothers are in the Matthäikirchhof in Berlin.

Ludwig Denecke
 



The French Revolution (1787–99) had had a decisive impact on German Romantic writers and thinkers. The Napoleonic Wars, beginning in 1792 and ending with the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15, brought much suffering and ultimately led to a major restructuring of Germany. The upheavals of this period gave rise to a new desire for a uniquely German cultural movement that would explicitly oppose French rationalism.

German Idealist philosophy played an important role in the genesis of Romanticism, which saw itself as grappling with a crisis in human subjectivity and laying the foundation for a new synthesis of mental and physical reality. The first step was taken by Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre (1794; “Science of Knowledge”), which defined the subject (“Ich,” or “I”) in terms of its relation to the object-world (“Nicht-Ich,” or “Not-I”). Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling’s Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur (1797; Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature) posited a reciprocal relationship between nature and mind: his famous formulation “Nature is unconscious mind, mind is unconscious nature” forms the groundwork for a great deal of German Romantic literature. Friedrich von Schlegel’s philosophical writings continued this line of thinking by reevaluating the role of creative imagination in human life. Poetry—the Romantics’ term for all forms of creative writing—was an anticipation of a future harmony in which all forms of conflict would be resolved in a vast productive unity. Adapting Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s dialectic (a posited interaction of opposite ideas leading to a synthesis), Schlegel developed his key concept of “irony,” by which he meant a form of thinking or writing that included its own self-reflection and self-critique. Ironic poetry, in Schlegel’s view, was a two-track form of literature in which a naive or immediate perception of reality is accompanied by a more sophisticated critical reflection upon it.


 


Johann Gottlieb Fichte


German philosopher

born May 19, 1762, Rammenau, Upper Lusatia, Saxony [now in Germany]
died Jan. 27, 1814, Berlin

Main
German philosopher and patriot, one of the great transcendental idealists.

Early life and career
Fichte was the son of a ribbon weaver. Educated at the Pforta school (1774–80) and at the universities of Jena (1780) and of Leipzig (1781–84), he started work as a tutor. In this capacity he went to Zürich in 1788 and to Warsaw in 1791 but left after two weeks’ probation.

The major influence on his thought at this time was that of Immanuel Kant, whose doctrine of the inherent moral worth of man harmonized with Fichte’s character; and he resolved to devote himself to perfecting a true philosophy, the principles of which should be practical maxims. He went from Warsaw to see Kant himself at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia), but this first interview was disappointing. Later, when Fichte submitted his Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung (“An Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation”) to Kant, the latter was favourably impressed by it and helped find a publisher (1792). Fichte’s name and preface were accidentally omitted from the first edition, and the work was ascribed by its earliest readers to Kant himself; when Kant corrected the mistake while commending the essay, Fichte’s reputation was made.

In the Versuch, Fichte sought to explain the conditions under which revealed religion is possible; his exposition turns upon the absolute requirements of the moral law. Religion itself is the belief in this moral law as divine, and such belief is a practical postulate, necessary in order to add force to the law. The revelation of this divine character of morality is possible only to someone in whom the lower impulses have been, or are, successful in overcoming reverence for the law. In such a case it is conceivable that a revelation might be given in order to add strength to the moral law. Religion ultimately then rests upon the practical reason and satisfies the needs of man, insofar as he stands under the moral law. In this conclusion are evident the prominence assigned by Fichte to the practical element and the tendency to make the moral requirements of the ego the ground for all judgment on reality.

In 1793 Fichte married Johanna Maria Rahn, whom he had met during his stay in Zürich. In the same year, he published anonymously two remarkable political works, of which Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Urteile des Publikums über die französische Revolution (“Contribution to the Correction of the Public’s Judgments Regarding the French Revolution”) was the more important. It was intended to explain the true nature of the French Revolution, to demonstrate how inextricably the right of liberty is interwoven with the very existence of man as an intelligent agent, and to point out the inherent progressiveness of the state and the consequent necessity of reform or amendment. As in the Versuch, the rational nature of man and the conditions necessary for its realization are made the standard for political philosophy.

The philosophy of Fichte falls chronologically into a period of residence in Jena (1793–98) and a period in Berlin (1799–1806), which are also different in their fundamental philosophic conceptions. The former period is marked by its ethical emphasis, the latter by the emergence of a mystical and theological theory of Being. Fichte was prompted to change his original position because he came to appreciate that religious faith surpasses moral reason. He was also influenced by the general trend that the development of thought took toward Romanticism.


Years at the University of Jena.
In 1793 there was a vacant chair of philosophy at the University of Jena, and Fichte was called to fill it. To the ensuing period belongs his most important philosophical work. In this period he published, among other works: Einige Vorlesungen über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten (1794; The Vocation of the Scholar), lectures on the importance of the highest intellectual culture and on the duties that it imposed; several works on the science of knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre), which were revised and developed continually throughout his life; the practical Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre (1796; The Science of Rights); and Das System der Sittenlehre nach den Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre (1798; The Science of Ethics as Based on the Science of Knowledge), in which his moral philosophy, grounded in the notion of duty, is most notably expressed.

The system of 1794 was the most original and also the most characteristic work that Fichte produced. It was incited by Kant’s critical philosophy and especially by his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (1788; Critique of Practical Reason . . .). From the outset it was less critical, precisely because it was more systematic, aiming at a self-sufficient doctrine in which the science of knowledge and ethics were intimately united. Fichte’s ambition was to demonstrate that practical (moral) reason is really (as Kant had only intimated) the root of reason in its entirety, the absolute ground of all knowledge as well as of humanity altogether. To prove this, he started from a supreme principle, the ego, which was supposed to be independent and sovereign, so that all other knowledge was deduced from it. Fichte did not assert that this supreme principle was self-evident but rather that it had to be postulated by pure thought. He followed, thereby, Kant’s doctrine that pure, practical reason postulates the existence of God, but he tried to transform Kant’s rational faith into a speculative knowledge on which he based both his theory of science and his ethics.

In 1795 Fichte became one of the editors of the Philosophisches Journal, and in 1798 his friend F.K. Forberg, a young, unknown philosopher, sent him an essay on the development of the idea of religion. Before printing this, Fichte, to prevent misunderstanding, composed a short preface, “On the Grounds of Our Belief in a Divine Government of the Universe,” in which God is defined as the moral order of the universe, the eternal law of right that is the foundation of all man’s being. The cry of atheism was raised, and the electoral government of Saxony, followed by all of the German states except Prussia, suppressed the Journal and demanded Fichte’s expulsion from Jena. After publishing two defenses, Fichte threatened to resign in case of reprimand. Much to his discomfort, his threat was taken as an offer to resign and was duly accepted.


Years in Berlin
Except for the summer of 1805, Fichte resided in Berlin from 1799 to 1806. Among his friends were the leaders of German Romanticism, A.W. and F. Schlegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher. His works of this period include Die Bestimmung des Menschen (1800; The Vocation of Man), in which he defines God as the infinite moral will of the universe who becomes conscious of himself in individuals; Der geschlossene Handelsstaat (also 1800), an intensely socialistic treatise in favour of tariff protection; two new versions of the Wissenschaftslehre (composed in 1801 and in 1804; published posthumously), marking a great change in the character of the doctrine; Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters (1806; lectures delivered 1804–05; The Characteristics of the Present Age), analyzing the Enlightenment and defining its place in the historical evolution of the general human consciousness but also indicating its defects and looking forward to belief in the divine order of the universe as the highest aspect of the life of reason; and Die Anweisung zum seligen Leben, oder auch die Religionslehre (1806; The Way Towards the Blessed Life). In this last-named work the union between the finite self-consciousness and the infinite ego, or God, is handled in a deeply religious fashion reminiscent of the Gospel According to John. The knowledge and love of God is declared to be the end of life. God is the All; the world of independent objects is the result of reflection or self-consciousness, by which the infinite unity is broken up. God is thus over and above the distinction of subject and object; man’s knowledge is but a reflex or picture of the infinite essence.


Last years
The French victories over the Prussians in 1806 drove Fichte from Berlin to Königsberg (where he lectured for a time), then to Copenhagen. He returned to Berlin in August 1807. From this time his published writings were practical in character; not until after the appearance of the Nachgelassene Werke (“Posthumous Works”) and of the Sämmtliche Werke (“Complete Works”) was the shape of his final speculations known. In 1807 he drew up a plan for the proposed new University of Berlin. In 1807–08 he delivered at Berlin his Reden an die deutsche Nation (Addresses to the German Nation), full of practical views on the only true foundation for national recovery and glory. From 1810 to 1812 he was rector of the new University of Berlin. During the great effort of Germany for national independence in 1813, he lectured “Über den Begriff des wahrhaften Krieges” (“On the Idea of a True War”).

At the beginning of 1814, Fichte caught a virulent hospital fever from his wife, who had volunteered for work as a hospital nurse; he died shortly thereafter.

Richard Kroner
 

 

 


Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling


German philosopher

born , Jan. 27, 1775, Leonberg, near Stuttgart, Württemberg [Germany]
died Aug. 20, 1854, Bad Ragaz, Switz.

Main
German philosopher and educator, a major figure of German idealism, in the post-Kantian development in German philosophy. He was ennobled (with the addition of von) in 1806.

Early life and career.
Schelling’s father was a Lutheran minister, who in 1777 became a professor of Oriental languages at the theological seminary in Bebenhausen, near Tübingen. It was there that Schelling received his elementary education. He was a highly gifted child, and he had already learned the classical languages at the age of eight. On the basis of his rapid intellectual development, he was admitted, at the age of 15, to the theological seminary in Tübingen, a famous finishing school for ministers of the Württemberg area, where he lived from 1790 to 1795. The youths at Tübingen were inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution and, spurning tradition, turned away from doctrinal theology to philosophy. The young Schelling was inspired, however, by the thought of Immanuel Kant, who had raised philosophy to a higher critical level, and by the idealist system of Johann Fichte, as well as by the pantheism of Benedict de Spinoza, a 17th-century rationalist. When he was 19 years old Schelling wrote his first philosophical work, Über die Möglichkeit einer Form der Philosophie überhaupt (1795; “On the Possibility and Form of Philosophy in General”), which he sent to Fichte, who expressed strong approval. It was followed by Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie (“Of the Ego as Principle of Philosophy”). One basic theme governs both of these works—the Absolute. This Absolute cannot be defined, however, as God; each person is himself the Absolute as the Absolute ego. This ego, eternal and timeless, is apprehended in a direct intuition, which, in contrast to sensory intuition, can be characterized as intellectual.

From 1795 to 1797 Schelling acted as a private tutor for a noble family, who had placed its sons under his care during their studies in Leipzig. The time spent in Leipzig marked a decisive turning point in the thought of Schelling. He attended lectures in physics, chemistry, and medicine. He acknowledged that Fichte, whom he had previously revered as his philosophical model, had not taken adequate notice of nature in his philosophical system, inasmuch as Fichte had always viewed nature only as an object in its subordination to man. Schelling, in contrast, wanted to show that nature, seen in itself, shows an active development toward the spirit. This philosophy of nature, the first independent philosophical accomplishment of Schelling, made him known in the circles of the Romanticists.


Period of intense productivity.
In 1798 Schelling was called to a professorship at the University of Jena, the academic centre of Germany at the time, where many of the foremost intellects of the time were gathered. During this period Schelling was extremely productive, publishing a rapid succession of works on the philosophy of nature. It was Schelling’s desire, as attested by his famous work System des transzendentalen Idealismus (1800; “System of Transcendental Idealism”), to unite his concept of nature with Fichte’s philosophy, which took the ego as the point of departure. Schelling saw that art mediates between the natural and physical spheres insofar as, in artistic creation, the natural (or unconscious) and the spiritual (or conscious) productions are united. Naturalness and spirituality are explained as emerging from an original state of indifference, in which they were submerged in the yet-undeveloped Absolute, and as rising through a succession of steps of ever-higher order. Fichte did not acknowledge this concept, however, and the two writers attacked each other most sharply in an intensive correspondence.

The time spent in Jena was important for Schelling also in a personal respect: there he became acquainted with Caroline Schlegel, among the most gifted women in German Romanticism, and married her in 1803. The unpleasant intrigues that accompanied this marriage and the dispute with Fichte caused Schelling to leave Jena, and he accepted an appointment at the University of Würzburg.

At first, Schelling lectured there on the philosophy of identity, conceived in his last years in Jena, in which he tried to show that, in all beings, the Absolute expresses itself directly as the unity of the subjective and the objective. It was just on this point that G.W.F. Hegel initiated his criticism of Schelling. Hegel had at first taken Schelling’s side in the disagreement between Schelling and Fichte, and complete unanimity seemed to exist between them in 1802 when they coedited the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie (“Critical Journal of Philosophy”). In the following years, however, Hegel’s philosophical thought began to move significantly away from Schelling’s, and his Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807; The Phenomenology of Mind) contained strong charges against Schelling’s system. To Schelling’s definition of the Absolute as an indiscriminate unity of the subjective and the objective, Hegel replied that such an Absolute is comparable to the night, “in which all cows are black.” Besides, Schelling had never explicitly shown how one could ascend to the Absolute; he had begun with this Absolute as though it were “shot out of a pistol.”

This criticism struck Schelling a heavy blow. The friendship with Hegel that had existed since their time together at the seminary in Tübingen broke up. Schelling, who had been regarded as the leading philosopher of the time until the publication of Hegel’s Phänomenologie, was pushed into the background.

This situation caused Schelling to retreat from public life. From 1806 to 1841 he lived in Munich, where, in 1806, he was appointed as general secretary of the Academy of Plastic Arts. He lectured from 1820 to 1827 in Erlangen. Caroline’s death on Sept. 7, 1809, led him to write a philosophical work on immortality. In 1812 Schelling married Pauline Gotter, a friend of Caroline. The marriage was harmonious, but the great passion that Schelling had felt for Caroline was unrepeatable.

During the years in Munich, Schelling tried to consolidate his philosophical work in a new way, producing a revision that was instigated by Hegel’s criticism. Schelling questioned all idealistic speculations built on the assumption that the world presents itself as a rational cosmos. Were there not also irrational things, he asked, and was not evil the predominant power in the world? In his Philosophische Untersuchungen über das Wesener menschlichen Freiheit (1809; Of Human Freedom), Schelling declared that the freedom of man is a real freedom only if it is freedom for good and evil. The possibility of this freedom is founded on two principles that are active in every living thing: one, a dark primal foundation that manifests itself in carnal desire and impulse; the other, a clearheaded sensibleness that governs as a formative power. Man, however, has placed the dark stratum of impulse, which was meant only to serve the intellect as a source of power, above the intellect and has thus subordinated the intellect to the impulses, which now rule over him. This reversal of the right order is the occurrence known in the Bible as the Fall from grace, through which evil came into the world. But this perversion of man is revoked by God, who becomes man in Christ and thus reestablishes the original order.


Period of the later, unpublished philosophy.
The position developed in the work on freedom forms the basis of Schelling’s later philosophy, covering the time from 1810 until his death, which is known only through a draft of the unpublished work Die Weltalter (written in 1811; The Ages of the World) and through the manuscripts of his later lectures. In Die Weltalter Schelling wanted to relate the history of God. God, who originally is absorbed in a quiet longing, comes to himself by glimpsing in himself ideas through which he becomes conscious of himself. This self-consciousness, which is identical to freedom, enables God to project these ideas from himself—i.e., to create the world.

Schelling’s appointment to the University of Berlin in 1841 gave him an opportunity once again to develop public interest in his conceptions. The Prussian king of that time, Frederick William IV, hoped that Schelling would combat the so-called dragon’s seed of Hegelianism in Berlin, where Hegel had been working until his death in 1831. Schelling’s first lecture in Berlin manifested his self-consciousness. Schelling declared that in his youth he had opened a new page in the history of philosophy and that now in his maturity he wanted to turn this page and start yet a newer one. Such notables as Friedrich Engels, Søren Kierkegaard, Jakob Burckhardt, and Mikhail Bakunin were in his audience. Schelling, however, had no great success in Berlin. Moreover, he was embittered when his lectures were plagiarized by an opponent who wanted to submit the positive philosophy of Schelling, now finally disclosed in these lectures, to the public for examination. Schelling initiated a legal suit but lost the case. He resigned and discontinued lecturing.

The content of these final lectures, however, represented the climax of Schelling’s creative activity. Schelling divided philosophy into a negative philosophy, which developed the idea of God by means of reason alone, and, in contrast, a positive philosophy, which showed the reality of this idea by reasoning a posteriori from the fact of the world to God as its creator. Schelling then explained (referring to his work on freedom) that man, who wanted to be equal to God, stood up against God in his Fall into sin. God, however, was soon elevated again as the principle. During the era of mythology, God appeared as a dark power. During the era of revelation, however, God emerged in history as manifestly real in the figure of Christ. Thus, the complete history of religion should be conveyed through philosophical thought.


Personality and significance.
Schelling is described as a man of thickset build, and, according to favourable reports, his high forehead and sparkling eyes were impressive. Opponents of his philosophy, however, such as Karl Rosenkranz, a disciple of Hegel, spoke of a sharp and piercing look. His character was unbalanced. Schelling has been described as nervous, unpredictable, and deeply sensitive in his proud fashion. Particularly striking was his unwavering consciousness that it was his mission to bring philosophy to a definite completion.

Great philosophical influence was denied to Schelling. The philosophical situation at the time was determined not by the few disciples of Schelling but by the Hegelians. The right-wing Hegelians occupied all of the philosophical professorial chairs and handed down the tradition of Hegel’s system. The left-wing Hegelians explained that, even to suspend Hegel’s system, an analysis of Hegel’s philosophy was necessary. Thus, in tracing the development of German Idealism, the early and middle Schelling—that is, the Schelling who drew up the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of identity—has been placed between the Idealism of Fichte, who started from the ego, and Hegel’s system of the Absolute spirit.

The independence of Schelling and his importance for philosophy are only now being recognized, and that in connection with Existential philosophy and philosophical anthropology, which conceive themselves as counteracting the philosophy of absolute reason. The later Schelling now turns out to have been the first thinker to illuminate Hegel’s philosophy critically. In particular, Schelling’s insight that man is determined not only by reason but also by dark natural impulses is now valued as a positive attempt to understand the reality of man on a level more profound than that attained by Hegel.

Walter Schulz

 

 


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The Philosophy of History"   PART I,   PART II,   PART III,   PART IV





 

German philosopher

born August 27, 1770, Stuttgart, Württemberg [Germany]
died November 14, 1831, Berlin

Main
German philosopher who developed a dialectical scheme that emphasized the progress of history and of ideas from thesis to antithesis and thence to a synthesis.

Hegel was the last of the great philosophical system builders of modern times. His work, following upon that of Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Friedrich Schelling, thus marks the pinnacle of classical German philosophy. As an absolute Idealist inspired by Christian insights and grounded in his mastery of a fantastic fund of concrete knowledge, Hegel found a place for everything—logical, natural, human, and divine—in a dialectical scheme that repeatedly swung from thesis to antithesis and back again to a higher and richer synthesis. His influence has been as fertile in the reactions that he precipitated—in Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish Existentialist; in the Marxists, who turned to social action; in the Vienna Positivists; and in G.E. Moore, a pioneering figure in British Analytic philosophy—as in his positive impact.
Early life
Hegel was the son of a revenue officer. He had already learned the elements of Latin from his mother by the time he entered the Stuttgart grammar school, where he remained for his education until he was 18. As a schoolboy he made a collection of extracts, alphabetically arranged, comprising annotations on classical authors, passages from newspapers, and treatises on morals and mathematics from the standard works of the period.
In 1788 Hegel went as a student to Tübingen with a view to taking orders, as his parents wished. Here he studied philosophy and classics for two years and graduated in 1790. Though he then took the theological course, he was impatient with the orthodoxy of his teachers; and the certificate given to him when he left in 1793 states that, whereas he had devoted himself vigorously to philosophy, his industry in theology was intermittent. He was also said to be poor in oral exposition, a deficiency that was to dog him throughout his life. Though his fellow students called him “the old man,” he liked cheerful company and a “sacrifice to Bacchus” and enjoyed the ladies as well. His chief friends during that period were a pantheistic poet, J.C.F. Hölderlin, his contemporary, and the nature philosopher Schelling, five years his junior. Together they read the Greek tragedians and celebrated the glories of the French Revolution.
On leaving college, Hegel did not enter the ministry; instead, wishing to have leisure for the study of philosophy and Greek literature, he became a private tutor. For the next three years he lived in Berne, with time on his hands and the run of a good library, where he read Edward Gibbon on the fall of the Roman empire and De l’esprit des loix, by Charles Louis, baron de Montesquieu, as well as the Greek and Roman classics. He also studied the critical philosopher Immanuel Kant and was stimulated by his essay on religion to write certain papers that became noteworthy only when, more than a century later, they were published as a part of Hegels theologische Jugendschriften (1907). Kant had maintained that, whereas orthodoxy requires a faith in historical facts and in doctrines that reason alone cannot justify and imposes on the faithful a moral system of arbitrary commands alleged to be revealed, Jesus, on the contrary, had originally taught a rational morality, which was reconcilable with the teaching of Kant’s ethical works, and a religion that, unlike Judaism, was adapted to the reason of all men. Hegel accepted this teaching; but, being more of a historian than Kant was, he put it to the test of history by writing two essays. The first of these was a life of Jesus in which Hegel attempted to reinterpret the gospel on Kantian lines. The second essay was an answer to the question of how Christianity had ever become the authoritarian religion that it was, if in fact the teaching of Jesus was not authoritarian but rationalistic.
Hegel was lonely in Berne and was glad to move, at the end of 1796, to Frankfurt am Main, where Hölderlin had gotten him a tutorship. His hopes of more companionship, however, were unfulfilled: Hölderlin was engrossed in an illicit love affair and shortly lost his reason. Hegel began to suffer from melancholia and, to cure himself, worked harder than ever, especially at Greek philosophy and modern history and politics. He read and made clippings from English newspapers, wrote about the internal affairs of his native Wurtemberg, and studied economics. Hegel was now able to free himself from the domination of Kant’s influence and to look with a fresh eye on the problem of Christian origins.

Early life » Emancipation from Kantianism
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance that this problem had for Hegel. It is true that his early theological writings contain hard sayings about Christianity and the churches; but the object of his attack was orthodoxy, not theology itself. All that he wrote at this period throbs with a religious conviction of a kind that is totally absent from Kant and Hegel’s other 18th-century teachers. Above all, he was inspired by a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of man, his reason, is the candle of the Lord, he held, and therefore cannot be subject to the limitations that Kant had imposed upon it. This faith in reason, with its religious basis, henceforth animated the whole of Hegel’s work.
His outlook had also become that of a historian—which again distinguishes him from Kant, who was much more influenced by the concepts of physical science. Every one of Hegel’s major works was a history; and, indeed, it was among historians and classical scholars rather than among philosophers that his work mainly fructified in the 19th century.
When in 1798 Hegel turned back to look over the essays that he had written in Berne two or three years earlier, he saw with a historian’s eye that, under Kant’s influence, he had misrepresented the life and teachings of Jesus and the history of the Christian Church. His newly won insight then found expression in his essay “Der Geist des Christentums und sein Schicksal” (“The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate”), likewise unpublished until 1907. This is one of Hegel’s most remarkable works. Its style is often difficult and the connection of thought not always plain, but it is written with passion, insight, and conviction.
He begins by sketching the essence of Judaism, which he paints in the darkest colours. The Jews were slaves to the Mosaic Law, leading a life unlovely in comparison with that of the ancient Greeks and content with the material satisfaction of a land flowing with milk and honey. Jesus taught something entirely different. Men are not to be the slaves of objective commands: the law is made for man. They are even to rise above the tension in moral experience between inclination and reason’s law of duty, for the law is to be “fulfilled” in the love of God, wherein all tension ceases and the believer does God’s will wholeheartedly and single-mindedly. A community of such believers is the Kingdom of God.
This is the kingdom that Jesus came to teach. It is founded on a belief in the unity of the divine and the human. The life that flows in them both is one; and it is only because man is spirit that he can grasp and comprehend the Spirit of God. Hegel works out this conception in an exegesis of passages in the Gospel According to John. The kingdom, however, can never be realized in this world: man is not spirit alone but flesh also. “Church and state, worship and life, piety and virtue, spiritual and worldly action can never dissolve into one.”
In this essay the leading ideas of Hegel’s system of philosophy are rooted. Kant had argued that man can have knowledge only of a finite world of appearances and that, whenever his reason attempts to go beyond this sphere and grapple with the infinite or with ultimate reality, it becomes entangled in insoluble contradictions. Hegel, however, found in love, conceived as a union of opposites, a prefigurement of spirit as the unity in which contradictions, such as infinite and finite, are embraced and synthesized. His choice of the word Geist to express this his leading conception was deliberate: the word means “spirit” as well as “mind” and thus has religious overtones. Contradictions in thinking at the scientific level of Kant’s “understanding” are indeed inevitable, but thinking as an activity of spirit or “reason” can rise above them to a synthesis in which the contradictions are resolved. All of this, expressed in religious phraseology, is contained in the manuscripts written toward the end of Hegel’s stay in Frankfurt. “In religion,” he wrote, “finite life rises to infinite life.” Kant’s philosophy had to stop short of religion. But there is room for another philosophy, based on the concept of spirit, that will distill into conceptual form the insights of religion. This was the philosophy that Hegel now felt himself ready to expound.


Early life » Career as lecturer at Jena
Fortunately, his circumstances changed at this moment, and he was at last able to embark on the academic career that had long been his ambition. His father’s death in 1799 had left him an inheritance, slender, indeed, but sufficient to enable him to surrender a regular income and take the risk of becoming a Privatdozent. In January of 1801 he arrived in Jena, where Schelling had been a professor since 1798. Jena, which had harboured the fantastic mysticism of the Schlegel brothers and their colleagues and the Kantianism and ethical Idealism of Fichte, had already seen its golden age, for these great scholars had all left. The precocious Schelling, who was but 26 on Hegel’s arrival, already had several books to his credit. Apt to “philosophize in public,” Schelling had been fighting a lone battle in the university against the rather dull followers of Kant. It was suggested that Hegel had been summoned as a new champion to aid his friend. This impression received some confirmation from the dissertation by which Hegel qualified as a university teacher, which betrays the influence of Schelling’s philosophy of nature, as well as from Hegel’s first publication, an essay entitled “Differenz des Fichte’schen und Schelling’schen Systems der Philosophie” (1801), in which he gave preference to the latter. Nevertheless, even in this essay and still more in its successors, Hegel’s difference from Schelling was clearly marked; they had a common interest in the Greeks, they both wished to carry forward Kant’s work, they were both iconoclasts; but Schelling had too many romantic enthusiasms for Hegel’s liking; and all that Hegel took from him—and then only for a very short period—was a terminology.
Hegel’s lectures, delivered in the winter of 1801–02, on logic and metaphysics, were attended by about 11 students. Later, in 1804, with a class of about 30, he lectured on his whole system, gradually working it out as he taught. Notice after notice of his lectures promised a textbook of philosophy—which, however, failed to appear. After the departure of Schelling from Jena (1803), Hegel was left to work out his own views untrammelled. Besides philosophical and political studies, he made extracts from books, attended lectures on physiology, and dabbled in other sciences. As a result of representations made by himself at Weimar, he was in February 1805 appointed extraordinary professor at Jena; and in July 1806, on Goethe’s intervention, he drew his first stipend—100 thalers. Though some of his hearers became attached to him, Hegel was not yet a popular lecturer.
Hegel, like Goethe, felt no patriotic shudder when Napoleon won his victory at Jena (1806): in Prussia he saw only a corrupt and conceited bureaucracy. Writing to a friend on the day before the battle, he spoke with admiration of the “world soul” and the Emperor and with satisfaction at the probable overthrow of the Prussians.
At this time Hegel published his first great work, the Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807; Eng. trans., The Phenomenology of Mind, 2nd ed., 1931). This, perhaps the most brilliant and difficult of Hegel’s books, describes how the human mind has risen from mere consciousness, through self-consciousness, reason, spirit, and religion, to absolute knowledge. Though man’s native attitude toward existence is reliance on the senses, a little reflection is sufficient to show that the reality attributed to the external world is due as much to intellectual conceptions as to the senses and that these conceptions elude a man when he tries to fix them. If consciousness cannot detect a permanent object outside itself, so self-consciousness cannot find a permanent subject in itself. Through aloofness, skepticism, or imperfection, self-consciousness has isolated itself from the world; it has closed its gates against the stream of life. The perception of this is reason. Reason thus abandons its efforts to mold the world and is content to let the aims of individuals work out their results independently.
The stage of Geist, however, reveals the consciousness no longer as isolated, critical, and antagonistic but as the indwelling spirit of a community. This is the lowest stage of concrete consciousness, the age of unconscious morality. But, through increasing culture, the mind gradually emancipates itself from conventions, which prepares the way for the rule of conscience. From the moral world the next step is religion. But the idea of Godhead, too, has to pass through nature worship and art before it reaches a full utterance in Christianity. Religion thus approaches the stage of absolute knowledge, of “the spirit knowing itself as spirit.” Here, according to Hegel, is the field of philosophy.


Gymnasium rector
In spite of the Phänomenologie, however, Hegel’s fortunes were now at their lowest ebb. He was, therefore, glad to become editor of the Bamberger Zeitung (1807–08). This, however, was not a suitable vocation, and he gladly accepted the rectorship of the Aegidiengymnasium in Nürnberg, a post he held from December 1808 to August 1816 and one that offered him a small but assured income. There Hegel inspired confidence in his pupils and maintained discipline without pedantic interference in their associations and sports.
In 1811 Hegel married Marie von Tucher (22 years his junior), of Nürnberg. The marriage was entirely happy. His wife bore him two sons: Karl, who became eminent as a historian; and Immanuel, whose interests were theological. The family circle was joined by Ludwig, a natural son of Hegel’s from Jena. At Nürnberg in 1812 appeared Die objektive Logik, being the first part of his Wissenschaft der Logik (“Science of Logic”), which in 1816 was completed by the second part, Die subjecktive Logik.

University professor
This work, in which his system was first presented in what was essentially its ultimate shape, earned him the offer of professorships at Erlangen, at Berlin, and at Heidelberg.

University professor » At Heidelberg
He accepted the chair at Heidelberg. For use at his lectures there, he published his Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1817; “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline”), an exposition of his system as a whole. Hegel’s philosophy is an attempt to comprehend the entire universe as a systematic whole. The system is grounded in faith. In the Christian religion God has been revealed as truth and as spirit. As spirit, man can receive this revelation. In religion the truth is veiled in imagery; but in philosophy the veil is torn aside, so that man can know the infinite and see all things in God. Hegel’s system is thus a spiritual monism but a monism in which differentiation is essential. Only through an experience of difference can the identity of thought and the object of thought be achieved—an identity in which thinking attains the through-and-through intelligibility that is its goal. Thus, truth is known only because error has been experienced and truth has triumphed; and God is infinite only because he has assumed the limitations of finitude and triumphed over them. Similarly, man’s Fall was necessary if he was to attain moral goodness. Spirit, including the Infinite Spirit, knows itself as spirit only by contrast with nature. Hegel’s system is monistic in having a single theme: what makes the universe intelligible is to see it as the eternal cyclical process whereby Absolute Spirit comes to knowledge of itself as spirit (1) through its own thinking; (2) through nature; and (3) through finite spirits and their self-expression in history and their self-discovery, in art, in religion, and in philosophy, as one with Absolute Spirit itself.
The compendium of Hegel’s system, the “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences,” is in three parts: “Logic,” “Nature,” and “Mind.” Hegel’s method of exposition is dialectical. It often happens that in a discussion two people who at first present diametrically opposed points of view ultimately agree to reject their own partial views and to accept a new and broader view that does justice to the substance of each. Hegel believed that thinking always proceeds according to this pattern: it begins by laying down a positive thesis that is at once negated by its antithesis; then further thought produces the synthesis. But this in turn generates an antithesis, and the same process continues once more. The process, however, is circular: ultimately, thinking reaches a synthesis that is identical with its starting point, except that all that was implicit there has now been made explicit. Thus, thinking itself, as a process, has negativity as one of its constituent moments, and the finite is, as God’s self-manifestation, part and parcel of the infinite itself. This is the sort of dialectical process of which Hegel’s system provides an account in three phases.


University professor » At Heidelberg » “Logic”
The system begins with an account of God’s thinking “before the creation of nature and finite spirit”; i.e., with the categories or pure forms of thought, which are the structure of all physical and intellectual life. Throughout, Hegel is dealing with pure essentialities, with spirit thinking its own essence; and these are linked together in a dialectical process that advances from abstract to concrete. If a man tries to think the notion of pure Being (the most abstract category of all), he finds that it is simply emptiness; i.e., Nothing. Yet Nothing is. The notion of pure Being and the notion of Nothing are opposites; and yet each, as one tries to think it, passes over into the other. But the way out of the contradiction is at once to reject both notions separately and to affirm them both together; i.e., to assert the notion of becoming, since what becomes both is and is not at once. The dialectical process advances through categories of increasing complexity and culminates with the absolute idea, or with the spirit as objective to itself.

University professor » At Heidelberg » “Nature”
Nature is the opposite of spirit. The categories studied in “Logic” were all internally related to one another; they grew out of one another. Nature, on the other hand, is a sphere of external relations. Parts of space and moments of time exclude one another; and everything in nature is in space and time and is thus finite. But nature is created by spirit and bears the mark of its creator. Categories appear in it as its essential structure, and it is the task of the philosophy of nature to detect that structure and its dialectic; but nature, as the realm of externality, cannot be rational through and through, though the rationality prefigured in it becomes gradually explicit when man appears. In man nature rises to self-consciousness.

University professor » At Heidelberg » “Mind”
Here Hegel follows the development of the human mind through the subconscious, consciousness, and the rational will; then through human institutions and human history as the embodiment or objectification of that will; and finally to art, religion, and philosophy, in which finally man knows himself as spirit, as one with God and possessed of absolute truth. Thus, it is now open to him to think his own essence; i.e., the thoughts expounded in “Logic.” He has finally returned to the starting point of the system, but en route he has made explicit all that was implicit in it and has discovered that “nothing but spirit is, and spirit is pure activity.”
Hegel’s system depends throughout on the results of scientific, historical, theological, and philosophical inquiry. No reader can fail to be impressed by the penetration and breadth of his mind nor by the immense range of knowledge that, in his view, had to precede the work of philosophizing. A civilization must be mature and, indeed, in its death throes before, in the philosophic thinking that has implicitly been its substance, it becomes conscious of itself and of its own significance. Thus, when philosophy comes on the scene, some form of the world has grown old.

University professor » At Berlin
In 1818 Hegel accepted the renewed offer of the chair of philosophy at Berlin, which had been vacant since Fichte’s death. There his influence over his pupils was immense, and there he published his Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse, alternatively entitled Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1821; Eng. trans., The Philosophy of Right, 1942). In Hegel’s works on politics and history, the human mind objectifies itself in its endeavour to find an object identical with itself. The Philosophy of Right (or of Law) falls into three main divisions. The first is concerned with law and rights as such: persons (i.e., men as men, quite independently of their individual characters) are the subject of rights, and what is required of them is mere obedience, no matter what the motives of obedience may be. Right is thus an abstract universal and therefore does justice only to the universal element in the human will. The individual, however, cannot be satisfied unless the act that he does accords not merely with law but also with his own conscientious convictions. Thus, the problem in the modern world is to construct a social and political order that satisfies the claims of both. And thus no political order can satisfy the demands of reason unless it is organized so as to avoid, on the one hand, a centralization that would make men slaves or ignore conscience and, on the other hand, an antinomianism that would allow freedom of conviction to any individual and so produce a licentiousness that would make social and political order impossible. The state that achieves this synthesis rests on the family and on the guild. It is unlike any state existing in Hegel’s day; it is a form of limited monarchy, with parliamentary government, trial by jury, and toleration for Jews and dissenters.
After his publication of The Philosophy of Right, Hegel seems to have devoted himself almost entirely to his lectures. Between 1823 and 1827 his activity reached its maximum. His notes were subjected to perpetual revisions and additions. It is possible to form an idea of them from the shape in which they appear in his published writings. Those on Aesthetics, on the Philosophy of Religion, on the Philosophy of History, and on the History of Philosophy have been published by his editors, mainly from the notes of his students, whereas those on logic, psychology, and the philosophy of nature have been appended in the form of illustrative and explanatory notes to the corresponding sections of his Encyklopädie. During these years hundreds of hearers from all parts of Germany and beyond came under his influence; and his fame was carried abroad by eager or intelligent disciples.
Three courses of lectures are especially the product of his Berlin period: those on aesthetics, on the philosophy of religion, and on the philosophy of history. In the years preceding the revolution of 1830, public interest, excluded from political life, turned to theatres, concert rooms, and picture galleries. At these Hegel became a frequent and appreciative visitor, and he made extracts from the art notes in the newspapers. During his holiday excursions, his interest in the fine arts more than once took him out of his way to see some old painting. This familiarity with the facts of art, though neither deep nor historical, gave a freshness to his lectures on aesthetics, which, as put together from the notes taken in different years from 1820 to 1829, are among his most successful efforts.
The lectures on the philosophy of religion are another application of his method, and shortly before his death he had prepared for the press a course of lectures on the proofs for the existence of God. On the one hand, he turned his weapons against the Rationalistic school, which reduced religion to the modicum compatible with an ordinary worldly mind. On the other hand, he criticized the school of Schleiermacher, who elevated feeling to a place in religion above systematic theology. In his middle way, Hegel attempted to show that the dogmatic creed is the rational development of what was implicit in religious feeling. To do so, of course, philosophy must be made the interpreter and the superior discipline.
In his philosophy of history, Hegel presupposed that the whole of human history is a process through which mankind has been making spiritual and moral progress and advancing to self-knowledge. History has a plot, and the philosopher’s task is to discern it. Some historians have found its key in the operation of natural laws of various kinds. Hegel’s attitude, however, rested on the faith that history is the enactment of God’s purpose and that man had now advanced far enough to descry what that purpose is: it is the gradual realization of human freedom.
The first step was to make the transition from a natural life of savagery to a state of order and law. States had to be founded by force and violence; there is no other way to make men law-abiding before they have advanced far enough mentally to accept the rationality of an ordered life. There will be a stage at which some men have accepted the law and become free, while others remain slaves. In the modern world man has come to appreciate that all men, as minds, are free in essence, and his task is thus to frame institutions under which they will be free in fact.
Hegel did not believe, despite the charge of some critics, that history had ended in his lifetime. In particular, he maintained against Kant that to eliminate war is impossible. Each nation-state is an individual; and, as Hobbes had said of relations between individuals in the state of nature, pacts without the sword are but words. Clearly, Hegel’s reverence for fact prevented him from accepting Kant’s Idealism.
The lectures on the history of philosophy are especially remarkable for their treatment of Greek philosophy. Working without modern indexes and annotated editions, Hegel’s grasp of Plato and Aristotle is astounding, and it is only just to recognize that it was from Hegel that the scholarship lavished on Greek philosophy in the century after his death received its original impetus.
At this time a Hegelian school began to gather. The flock included intelligent pupils, empty-headed imitators, and romantics who turned philosophy into lyric measures. Opposition and criticism only served to define more precisely the adherents of the new doctrine. Though he had soon resigned all direct official connection with the schools of Brandenburg, Hegel’s real influence in Prussia was considerable. In 1830 he was rector of the university. In 1831 he received a decoration from Frederick William III. One of his last literary undertakings was the establishment of the Berlin Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik (“Yearbook for Philosophical Criticism”).
The revolution of 1830 was a great blow to Hegel, and the prospect of mob rule almost made him ill. His last literary work, the first part of which appeared in the Preussische Staatszeitung while the rest was censored, was an essay on the English Reform Bill of 1832, considering its probable effects on the character of the new members of Parliament and the measures that they might introduce. In the latter connection he enlarged on several points in which England had done less than many continental states for the abolition of monopolies and abuses.
In 1831 cholera entered Germany. Hegel and his family retired for the summer to the suburbs, and there he finished the revision of the first part of his Science of Logic. Home again for the winter session, on November 14, after one day’s illness, he died of cholera and was buried, as he had wished, between Fichte and Karl Solger, author of an ironic dialectic.


Personage and influence
In his classroom Hegel was more impressive than fascinating. His students saw a plain, old-fashioned face, without life or lustre—a figure that had never looked young and was now prematurely aged. Sitting with his snuffbox before him and his head bent down, he looked ill at ease and kept turning the folios of his notes. His utterance was interrupted by frequent coughing; every sentence came out with a struggle. The style was no less irregular: sometimes in plain narrative the lecturer would be specially awkward, while in abstruse passages he seemed especially at home, rose into a natural eloquence, and carried away the hearer by the grandeur of his diction.
The early theological writings and the Phenomenology of Mind are packed with brilliant metaphors. In his later works, produced as textbooks for his lectures, the “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences” and the Philosophy of Right, he compresses his material into relatively short, numbered paragraphs. It is only necessary to translate them to appreciate their conciseness and precision. The common idea that Hegel’s is a philosophy of exceptional difficulty is quite mistaken. Once his terminology is understood and his main principles grasped, he presents far less difficulty than Kant, for example. One reason for this is a certain air of dogmatism: Kant’s statements are often hedged around with qualifications; but Hegel had, as it were, seen a vision of absolute truth, and he expounds it with confidence.
Hegel’s system is avowedly an attempt to unify opposites—spirit and nature, universal and particular, ideal and real—and to be a synthesis in which all the partial and contradictory philosophies of his predecessors are alike contained and transcended. It is thus both Idealism and Realism at once; hence, it is not surprising that his successors, emphasizing now one and now another strain in his thought, have interpreted him variously. Conservatives and revolutionaries, believers and atheists alike have professed to draw inspiration from him. In one form or another his teaching dominated German universities for some years after his death and spread to France and to Italy. The vicissitudes of Hegelian thought to the present day are detailed below in Hegelianism. In the mid-20th century, interest in the early theological writings and in the Phänomenologie was increased by the spread of Existentialism. At the same time, the growing importance of Communism encouraged political thinkers to study Hegel’s political works, as well as his “Logic,” because of their influence on Karl Marx. And, by the time of his bicentennial in 1970, a Hegelian renascence was in the making.

Sir T. Malcolm Knox

 


 

The Romantic writer Novalis (the pseudonym of Friedrich Leopold, Baron von Hardenberg) put Schlegel’s theory of irony into practice in his unfinished novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802; Henry of Ofterdingen), which depicts the development of a naive young man who is destined to become a poet. Heinrich’s untutored responses to experience are juxtaposed with a sequence of inset narratives that culminate in an allegorical “fairy tale” that was to be followed, according to the author’s notes, by the depiction of an “astral” counterreality. Each successive stage of the novel was to move toward a higher and more complex understanding of the world.

Many of the German Romantics drew heavily on contemporary science, notably on Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert’s Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaften (1808; “Views about the Night Side of Science”). In contrast to the Enlightenment, the Romantic Movement reevaluated the power of rational thinking, preferring instead more intuitive modes of thought such as dreams (in Schubert’s terms, the “night side” as opposed to the “day side” of reality). In many ways, the German Romantics can be seen as anticipating Sigmund Freud in their emphasis on the pervasive influence of the unconscious in human motivation. Characteristic Romantic motifs such as night, moonlight, dreams, hallucinations, inchoate longings, and a melancholic sense of lack or loss are direct reflections of this interest in the unconscious.

According to the Romantics, some minds are particularly adapted to discern the hidden workings of nature. Poets, they believed, possess the faculty of hearing the “voice of nature” and transposing it into human language. Lyric poetry was a dominant genre throughout the period, with Ludwig Tieck, Joseph Eichendorff, and Clemens Brentano as its major practitioners. Folk traditions such as the fairy tale, ballad, and folk song were also seen as ways of gaining access to preconscious modes of thought. Fairy tales and folk poetry were the object of quasi-scholarly collections such as the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812–15; “Children’s and Household Stories,” commonly known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales), assembled by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and the poetry anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805–08; “The Boy’s Magic Horn”), edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano. At the same time, these genres were also much imitated, as in Ludwig Tieck’s sophisticated “art fairy tale” Der blonde Eckbert (1797; “Blond Eckbert”). The Romantics were also intensely interested in the Middle Ages, which they saw as a simpler and more integrated time that could become a model for the new political, social, and religious unity they were seeking. Novalis’s essay Die Christenheit oder Europa (1799; “Christendom or Europe”) expressed this view.

As the Romantic Movement unfolded, its writers became increasingly aware of the tenuous nature of the synthesis they were attempting to establish, and they felt wracked by a sense of irreconcilable dualism. Later Romanticism is perhaps best exemplified by E.T.A. Hoffmann, whose best-known tales, such as Der goldne Topf (1814; The Golden Pot) and Der Sandmann (1816; The Sandman), turn upon a tension between an everyday or philistine world and the seemingly crazed mental projections of creative genius. The poetry of Heinrich Heine, with its simultaneous expression and critique of Romantic sentiment, is also characteristic of this later phase of the movement; indeed, Heine is best seen as a transitional figure who emerged from late Romanticism but had his most decisive influence during the 1830s. His essay Die Romantische Schule (1833–35; The Romantic School) presented a critique of Romanticism’s tendency to look to the medieval past.



 


Sigmund Freud

 

 
"The Interpretation of Dreams"
Chapter 1 The Scientific Literature of Dream-Problems
Chapter 2 The Method of Dream Interpretation
Chapter 3 The Dream as Wish Fulfilment
Chapter 4 Distortion in Dreams
Chapter 5 The Material and Sources of Dreams
Chapter 6 The Dream-Work
Chapter 7 The Psychology of the Dream Process



"Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex"


 

 

Austrian psychoanalyst

born May 6, 1856, Freiberg, Moravia, Austrian Empire [now Příbor, Czech Republic]
died Sept. 23, 1939, London, Eng.

Overview
Austrian neuropsychologist, founder of psychoanalysis, and one of the major intellectual figures of the 20th century.

Trained in Vienna as a neurologist, Freud went to Paris in 1885 to study with Jean-Martin Charcot, whose work on hysteria led Freud to conclude that mental disorders might be caused purely by psychological rather than organic factors. Returning to Vienna (1886), Freud collaborated with the physician Josef Breuer (1842–1925) in further studies on hysteria, resulting in the development of some key psychoanalytic concepts and techniques, including free association, the unconscious, resistance (later defense mechanisms), and neurosis. In 1899 he published The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he analyzed the complex symbolic processes underlying dream formation: he proposed that dreams are the disguised expression of unconscious wishes. In his controversial Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), he delineated the complicated stages of psychosexual development (oral, anal, and phallic) and the formation of the Oedipus complex. During World War I, he wrote papers that clarified his understanding of the relations between the unconscious and conscious portions of the mind and the workings of the id, ego, and superego. Freud eventually applied his psychoanalytic insights to such diverse phenomena as jokes and slips of the tongue, ethnographic data, religion and mythology, and modern civilization. Works of note include Totem and Taboo (1913), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), The Future of an Illusion (1927), and Civilization and Its Discontents (1930). Freud fled to England when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938; he died shortly thereafter. Despite the relentless and often compelling challenges mounted against virtually all of his ideas, both in his lifetime and after, Freud has remained one of the most influential figures in contemporary thought.

Main
Austrian neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis.

Freud may justly be called the most influential intellectual legislator of his age. His creation of psychoanalysis was at once a theory of the human psyche, a therapy for the relief of its ills, and an optic for the interpretation of culture and society. Despite repeated criticisms, attempted refutations, and qualifications of Freud’s work, its spell remained powerful well after his death and in fields far removed from psychology as it is narrowly defined. If, as the American sociologist Philip Rieff once contended, “psychological man” replaced such earlier notions as political, religious, or economic man as the 20th century’s dominant self-image, it is in no small measure due to the power of Freud’s vision and the seeming inexhaustibility of the intellectual legacy he left behind.

Early life and training
Freud’s father, Jakob, was a Jewish wool merchant who had been married once before he wed the boy’s mother, Amalie Nathansohn. The father, 40 years old at Freud’s birth, seems to have been a relatively remote and authoritarian figure, while his mother appears to have been more nurturant and emotionally available. Although Freud had two older half-brothers, his strongest if also most ambivalent attachment seems to have been to a nephew, John, one year his senior, who provided the model of intimate friend and hated rival that Freud reproduced often at later stages of his life.

In 1859 the Freud family was compelled for economic reasons to move to Leipzig and then a year after to Vienna, where Freud remained until the Nazi annexation of Austria 78 years later. Despite Freud’s dislike of the imperial city, in part because of its citizens’ frequent anti-Semitism, psychoanalysis reflected in significant ways the cultural and political context out of which it emerged. For example, Freud’s sensitivity to the vulnerability of paternal authority within the psyche may well have been stimulated by the decline in power suffered by his father’s generation, often liberal rationalists, in the Habsburg empire. So too his interest in the theme of the seduction of daughters was rooted in complicated ways in the context of Viennese attitudes toward female sexuality.

In 1873 Freud was graduated from the Sperl Gymnasium and, apparently inspired by a public reading of an essay by Goethe on nature, turned to medicine as a career. At the University of Vienna he worked with one of the leading physiologists of his day, Ernst von Brücke, an exponent of the materialist, antivitalist science of Hermann von Helmholtz. In 1882 he entered the General Hospital in Vienna as a clinical assistant to train with the psychiatrist Theodor Meynert and the professor of internal medicine Hermann Nothnagel. In 1885 Freud was appointed lecturer in neuropathology, having concluded important research on the brain’s medulla. At this time he also developed an interest in the pharmaceutical benefits of cocaine, which he pursued for several years. Although some beneficial results were found in eye surgery, which have been credited to Freud’s friend Carl Koller, the general outcome was disastrous. Not only did Freud’s advocacy lead to a mortal addiction in another close friend, Ernst Fleischl von Marxow, but it also tarnished his medical reputation for a time. Whether or not one interprets this episode in terms that call into question Freud’s prudence as a scientist, it was of a piece with his lifelong willingness to attempt bold solutions to relieve human suffering.

Freud’s scientific training remained of cardinal importance in his work, or at least in his own conception of it. In such writings as his “Entwurf einer Psychologie” (written 1895, published 1950; “Project for a Scientific Psychology”) he affirmed his intention to find a physiological and materialist basis for his theories of the psyche. Here a mechanistic neurophysiological model vied with a more organismic, phylogenetic one in ways that demonstrate Freud’s complicated debt to the science of his day.

In late 1885 Freud left Vienna to continue his studies of neuropathology at the Salpêtrière clinic in Paris, where he worked under the guidance of Jean-Martin Charcot. His 19 weeks in the French capital proved a turning point in his career, for Charcot’s work with patients classified as “hysterics” introduced Freud to the possibility that psychological disorders might have their source in the mind rather than the brain. Charcot’s demonstration of a link between hysterical symptoms, such as paralysis of a limb, and hypnotic suggestion implied the power of mental states rather than nerves in the etiology of disease. Although Freud was soon to abandon his faith in hypnosis, he returned to Vienna in February 1886 with the seed of his revolutionary psychological method implanted.

Several months after his return Freud married Martha Bernays, the daughter of a prominent Jewish family whose ancestors included a chief rabbi of Hamburg and Heinrich Heine. She was to bear six children, one of whom, Anna Freud, was to become a distinguished psychoanalyst in her own right. Although the glowing picture of their marriage painted by Ernest Jones in his biography of Freud has been nuanced by later scholars, it is clear that Martha Bernays Freud was a deeply sustaining presence during her husband’s tumultuous career.

Shortly after his marriage Freud began his closest friendship, with the Berlin physician Wilhelm Fliess, whose role in the development of psychoanalysis has occasioned widespread debate. Throughout the 15 years of their intimacy Fliess provided Freud an invaluable interlocutor for his most daring ideas. Freud’s belief in human bisexuality, his idea of erotogenic zones on the body, and perhaps even his imputation of sexuality to infants may well have been stimulated by their friendship.

A somewhat less controversial influence arose from the partnership Freud began with the physician Josef Breuer after his return from Paris. Freud turned to a clinical practice in neuropsychology, and the office he established at Berggasse 19 was to remain his consulting room for almost half a century. Before their collaboration began, during the early 1880s, Breuer had treated a patient named Bertha Pappenheim—or “Anna O.,” as she became known in the literature—who was suffering from a variety of hysterical symptoms. Rather than using hypnotic suggestion, as had Charcot, Breuer allowed her to lapse into a state resembling autohypnosis, in which she would talk about the initial manifestations of her symptoms. To Breuer’s surprise, the very act of verbalization seemed to provide some relief from their hold over her (although later scholarship has cast doubt on its permanence). “The talking cure” or “chimney sweeping,” as Breuer and Anna O., respectively, called it, seemed to act cathartically to produce an abreaction, or discharge, of the pent-up emotional blockage at the root of the pathological behaviour.


Psychoanalytic theory
Freud, still beholden to Charcot’s hypnotic method, did not grasp the full implications of Breuer’s experience until a decade later, when he developed the technique of free association. In part an extrapolation of the automatic writing promoted by the German Jewish writer Ludwig Börne a century before, in part a result of his own clinical experience with other hysterics, this revolutionary method was announced in the work Freud published jointly with Breuer in 1895, Studien über Hysterie (Studies in Hysteria). By encouraging the patient to express any random thoughts that came associatively to mind, the technique aimed at uncovering hitherto unarticulated material from the realm of the psyche that Freud, following a long tradition, called the unconscious. Because of its incompatibility with conscious thoughts or conflicts with other unconscious ones, this material was normally hidden, forgotten, or unavailable to conscious reflection. Difficulty in freely associating—sudden silences, stuttering, or the like—suggested to Freud the importance of the material struggling to be expressed, as well as the power of what he called the patient’s defenses against that expression. Such blockages Freud dubbed resistance, which had to be broken down in order to reveal hidden conflicts. Unlike Charcot and Breuer, Freud came to the conclusion, based on his clinical experience with female hysterics, that the most insistent source of resisted material was sexual in nature. And even more momentously, he linked the etiology of neurotic symptoms to the same struggle between a sexual feeling or urge and the psychic defenses against it. Being able to bring that conflict to consciousness through free association and then probing its implications was thus a crucial step, he reasoned, on the road to relieving the symptom, which was best understood as an unwitting compromise formation between the wish and the defense.


Psychoanalytic theory » Screen memories
At first, however, Freud was uncertain about the precise status of the sexual component in this dynamic conception of the psyche. His patients seemed to recall actual experiences of early seductions, often incestuous in nature. Freud’s initial impulse was to accept these as having happened. But then, as he disclosed in a now famous letter to Fliess of Sept. 2, 1897, he concluded that, rather than being memories of actual events, these shocking recollections were the residues of infantile impulses and desires to be seduced by an adult. What was recalled was not a genuine memory but what he would later call a screen memory, or fantasy, hiding a primitive wish. That is, rather than stressing the corrupting initiative of adults in the etiology of neuroses, Freud concluded that the fantasies and yearnings of the child were at the root of later conflict.

The absolute centrality of his change of heart in the subsequent development of psychoanalysis cannot be doubted. For in attributing sexuality to children, emphasizing the causal power of fantasies, and establishing the importance of repressed desires, Freud laid the groundwork for what many have called the epic journey into his own psyche, which followed soon after the dissolution of his partnership with Breuer.

Freud’s work on hysteria had focused on female sexuality and its potential for neurotic expression. To be fully universal, psychoanalysis—a term Freud coined in 1896—would also have to examine the male psyche in a condition of what might be called normality. It would have to become more than a psychotherapy and develop into a complete theory of the mind. To this end Freud accepted the enormous risk of generalizing from the experience he knew best: his own. Significantly, his self-analysis was both the first and the last in the history of the movement he spawned; all future analysts would have to undergo a training analysis with someone whose own analysis was ultimately traceable to Freud’s of his disciples.

Freud’s self-exploration was apparently enabled by a disturbing event in his life. In October 1896, Jakob Freud died shortly before his 81st birthday. Emotions were released in his son that he understood as having been long repressed, emotions concerning his earliest familial experiences and feelings. Beginning in earnest in July 1897, Freud attempted to reveal their meaning by drawing on a technique that had been available for millennia: the deciphering of dreams. Freud’s contribution to the tradition of dream analysis was path-breaking, for in insisting on them as “the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious,” he provided a remarkably elaborate account of why dreams originate and how they function.


Psychoanalytic theory » The interpretation of dreams
In what many commentators consider his master work, Die Traumdeutung (published in 1899, but given the date of the dawning century to emphasize its epochal character; The Interpretation of Dreams), he presented his findings. Interspersing evidence from his own dreams with evidence from those recounted in his clinical practice, Freud contended that dreams played a fundamental role in the psychic economy. The mind’s energy—which Freud called libido and identified principally, but not exclusively, with the sexual drive—was a fluid and malleable force capable of excessive and disturbing power. Needing to be discharged to ensure pleasure and prevent pain, it sought whatever outlet it might find. If denied the gratification provided by direct motor action, libidinal energy could seek its release through mental channels. Or, in the language of The Interpretation of Dreams, a wish can be satisfied by an imaginary wish fulfillment. All dreams, Freud claimed, even nightmares manifesting apparent anxiety, are the fulfillment of such wishes.

More precisely, dreams are the disguised expression of wish fulfillments. Like neurotic symptoms, they are the effects of compromises in the psyche between desires and prohibitions in conflict with their realization. Although sleep can relax the power of the mind’s diurnal censorship of forbidden desires, such censorship, nonetheless, persists in part during nocturnal existence. Dreams, therefore, have to be decoded to be understood, and not merely because they are actually forbidden desires experienced in distorted fashion. For dreams undergo further revision in the process of being recounted to the analyst.

The Interpretation of Dreams provides a hermeneutic for the unmasking of the dream’s disguise, or dreamwork, as Freud called it. The manifest content of the dream, that which is remembered and reported, must be understood as veiling a latent meaning. Dreams defy logical entailment and narrative coherence, for they intermingle the residues of immediate daily experience with the deepest, often most infantile wishes. Yet they can be ultimately decoded by attending to four basic activities of the dreamwork and reversing their mystifying effect.

The first of these activities, condensation, operates through the fusion of several different elements into one. As such, it exemplifies one of the key operations of psychic life, which Freud called overdetermination. No direct correspondence between a simple manifest content and its multidimensional latent counterpart can be assumed. The second activity of the dreamwork, displacement, refers to the decentring of dream thoughts, so that the most urgent wish is often obliquely or marginally represented on the manifest level. Displacement also means the associative substitution of one signifier in the dream for another, say, the king for one’s father. The third activity Freud called representation, by which he meant the transformation of thoughts into images. Decoding a dream thus means translating such visual representations back into intersubjectively available language through free association. The final function of the dreamwork is secondary revision, which provides some order and intelligibility to the dream by supplementing its content with narrative coherence. The process of dream interpretation thus reverses the direction of the dreamwork, moving from the level of the conscious recounting of the dream through the preconscious back beyond censorship into the unconscious itself.


Psychoanalytic theory » Further theoretical development
In 1904 Freud published Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens (The Psychopathology of Everyday Life), in which he explored such seemingly insignificant errors as slips of the tongue or pen (later colloquially called Freudian slips), misreadings, or forgetting of names. These errors Freud understood to have symptomatic and thus interpretable importance. But unlike dreams they need not betray a repressed infantile wish yet can arise from more immediate hostile, jealous, or egoistic causes.

In 1905 Freud extended the scope of this analysis by examining Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewussten (Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious). Invoking the idea of “joke-work” as a process comparable to dreamwork, he also acknowledged the double-sided quality of jokes, at once consciously contrived and unconsciously revealing. Seemingly innocent phenomena like puns or jests are as open to interpretation as more obviously tendentious, obscene, or hostile jokes. The explosive response often produced by successful humour, Freud contended, owes its power to the orgasmic release of unconscious impulses, aggressive as well as sexual. But insofar as jokes are more deliberate than dreams or slips, they draw on the rational dimension of the psyche that Freud was to call the ego as much as on what he was to call the id.

In 1905 Freud also published the work that first thrust him into the limelight as the alleged champion of a pansexualist understanding of the mind: Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie (Three Contributions to the Sexual Theory, later translated as Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality), revised and expanded in subsequent editions. The work established Freud, along with Richard von Kraft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Albert Moll, and Iwan Bloch, as a pioneer in the serious study of sexology. Here he outlined in greater detail than before his reasons for emphasizing the sexual component in the development of both normal and pathological behaviour. Although not as reductionist as popularly assumed, Freud nonetheless extended the concept of sexuality beyond conventional usage to include a panoply of erotic impulses from the earliest childhood years on. Distinguishing between sexual aims (the act toward which instincts strive) and sexual objects (the person, organ, or physical entity eliciting attraction), he elaborated a repertoire of sexually generated behaviour of astonishing variety. Beginning very early in life, imperiously insistent on its gratification, remarkably plastic in its expression, and open to easy maldevelopment, sexuality, Freud concluded, is the prime mover in a great deal of human behaviour.


Psychoanalytic theory » Sexuality and development
To spell out the formative development of the sexual drive, Freud focused on the progressive replacement of erotogenic zones in the body by others. An originally polymorphous sexuality first seeks gratification orally through sucking at the mother’s breast, an object for which other surrogates can later be provided. Initially unable to distinguish between self and breast, the infant soon comes to appreciate its mother as the first external love object. Later Freud would contend that even before that moment, the child can treat its own body as such an object, going beyond undifferentiated autoeroticism to a narcissistic love for the self as such. After the oral phase, during the second year, the child’s erotic focus shifts to its anus, stimulated by the struggle over toilet training. During the anal phase the child’s pleasure in defecation is confronted with the demands of self-control. The third phase, lasting from about the fourth to the sixth year, he called the phallic. Because Freud relied on male sexuality as the norm of development, his analysis of this phase aroused considerable opposition, especially because he claimed its major concern is castration anxiety.

To grasp what Freud meant by this fear, it is necessary to understand one of his central contentions. As has been stated, the death of Freud’s father was the trauma that permitted him to delve into his own psyche. Not only did Freud experience the expected grief, but he also expressed disappointment, resentment, and even hostility toward his father in the dreams he analyzed at the time. In the process of abandoning the seduction theory he recognized the source of the anger as his own psyche rather than anything objectively done by his father. Turning, as he often did, to evidence from literary and mythical texts as anticipations of his psychological insights, Freud interpreted that source in terms of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex. The universal applicability of its plot, he conjectured, lies in the desire of every male child to sleep with his mother and remove the obstacle to the realization of that wish, his father. What he later dubbed the Oedipus complex presents the child with a critical problem, for the unrealizable yearning at its root provokes an imagined response on the part of the father: the threat of castration.

The phallic stage can only be successfully surmounted if the Oedipus complex with its accompanying castration anxiety can be resolved. According to Freud, this resolution can occur if the boy finally suppresses his sexual desire for the mother, entering a period of so-called latency, and internalizes the reproachful prohibition of the father, making it his own with the construction of that part of the psyche Freud called the superego or the conscience.

The blatantly phallocentric bias of this account, which was supplemented by a highly controversial assumption of penis envy in the already castrated female child, proved troublesome for subsequent psychoanalytic theory. Not surprisingly, later analysts of female sexuality have paid more attention to the girl’s relations with the pre-Oedipal mother than to the vicissitudes of the Oedipus complex. Anthropological challenges to the universality of the complex have also been damaging, although it has been possible to redescribe it in terms that lift it out of the specific familial dynamics of Freud’s own day. If the creation of culture is understood as the institution of kinship structures based on exogamy, then the Oedipal drama reflects the deeper struggle between natural desire and cultural authority.

Freud, however, always maintained the intrapsychic importance of the Oedipus complex, whose successful resolution is the precondition for the transition through latency to the mature sexuality he called the genital phase. Here the parent of the opposite sex is conclusively abandoned in favour of a more suitable love object able to reciprocate reproductively useful passion. In the case of the girl, disappointment over the nonexistence of a penis is transcended by the rejection of her mother in favour of a father figure instead. In both cases, sexual maturity means heterosexual, procreatively inclined, genitally focused behaviour.

Sexual development, however, is prone to troubling maladjustments preventing this outcome if the various stages are unsuccessfully negotiated. Fixation of sexual aims or objects can occur at any particular moment, caused either by an actual trauma or the blockage of a powerful libidinal urge. If the fixation is allowed to express itself directly at a later age, the result is what was then generally called a perversion. If, however, some part of the psyche prohibits such overt expression, then, Freud contended, the repressed and censored impulse produces neurotic symptoms, neuroses being conceptualized as the negative of perversions. Neurotics repeat the desired act in repressed form, without conscious memory of its origin or the ability to confront and work it through in the present.

In addition to the neurosis of hysteria, with its conversion of affective conflicts into bodily symptoms, Freud developed complicated etiological explanations for other typical neurotic behaviour, such as obsessive-compulsions, paranoia, and narcissism. These he called psychoneuroses, because of their rootedness in childhood conflicts, as opposed to the actual neuroses such as hypochondria, neurasthenia, and anxiety neurosis, which are due to problems in the present (the last, for example, being caused by the physical suppression of sexual release).

Freud’s elaboration of his therapeutic technique during these years focused on the implications of a specific element in the relationship between patient and analyst, an element whose power he first began to recognize in reflecting on Breuer’s work with Anna O. Although later scholarship has cast doubt on its veracity, Freud’s account of the episode was as follows. An intense rapport between Breuer and his patient had taken an alarming turn when Anna divulged her strong sexual desire for him. Breuer, who recognized the stirrings of reciprocal feelings, broke off his treatment out of an understandable confusion about the ethical implications of acting on these impulses. Freud came to see in this troubling interaction the effects of a more pervasive phenomenon, which he called transference (or in the case of the analyst’s desire for the patient, counter-transference). Produced by the projection of feelings, transference, he reasoned, is the reenactment of childhood urges cathected (invested) on a new object. As such, it is the essential tool in the analytic cure, for by bringing to the surface repressed emotions and allowing them to be examined in a clinical setting, transference can permit their being worked through in the present. That is, affective remembrance can be the antidote to neurotic repetition.

It was largely to facilitate transference that Freud developed his celebrated technique of having the patient lie on a couch, not looking directly at the analyst, and free to fantasize with as little intrusion of the analyst’s real personality as possible. Restrained and neutral, the analyst functions as a screen for the displacement of early emotions, both erotic and aggressive. Transference onto the analyst is itself a kind of neurosis, but one in the service of an ultimate working through of the conflicting feelings it expresses. Only certain illnesses, however, are open to this treatment, for it demands the ability to redirect libidinal energy outward. The psychoses, Freud sadly concluded, are based on the redirection of libido back onto the patient’s ego and cannot therefore be relieved by transference in the analytic situation. How successful psychoanalytic therapy has been in the treatment of psychoneuroses remains, however, a matter of considerable dispute.

Although Freud’s theories were offensive to many in the Vienna of his day, they began to attract a cosmopolitan group of supporters in the early 1900s. In 1902 the Psychological Wednesday Circle began to gather in Freud’s waiting room with a number of future luminaries in the psychoanalytic movements in attendance. Alfred Adler and Wilhelm Stekel were often joined by guests such as Sándor Ferenczi, Carl Gustav Jung, Otto Rank, Ernest Jones, Max Eitingon, and A.A. Brill. In 1908 the group was renamed the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and held its first international congress in Salzburg. In the same year the first branch society was opened in Berlin. In 1909 Freud, along with Jung and Ferenczi, made a historic trip to Clark University in Worcester, Mass. The lectures he gave there were soon published as Über Psychoanalyse (1910; The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis), the first of several introductions he wrote for a general audience. Along with a series of vivid case studies—the most famous known colloquially as “Dora” (1905), “Little Hans” (1909), “The Rat Man” (1909), “The Psychotic Dr. Schreber” (1911), and “The Wolf Man” (1918)—they made his ideas known to a wider public.

As might be expected of a movement whose treatment emphasized the power of transference and the ubiquity of Oedipal conflict, its early history is a tale rife with dissension, betrayal, apostasy, and excommunication. The most widely noted schisms occurred with Adler in 1911, Stekel in 1912, and Jung in 1913; these were followed by later breaks with Ferenczi, Rank, and Wilhelm Reich in the 1920s. Despite efforts by loyal disciples like Ernest Jones to exculpate Freud from blame, subsequent research concerning his relations with former disciples like Viktor Tausk have clouded the picture considerably. Critics of the hagiographic legend of Freud have, in fact, had a relatively easy time documenting the tension between Freud’s aspirations to scientific objectivity and the extraordinarily fraught personal context in which his ideas were developed and disseminated. Even well after Freud’s death, his archivists’ insistence on limiting access to potentially embarrassing material in his papers has reinforced the impression that the psychoanalytic movement resembled more a sectarian church than a scientific community (at least as the latter is ideally understood).


Psychoanalytic theory » Toward a general theory
If the troubled history of its institutionalization served to call psychoanalysis into question in certain quarters, so too did its founder’s penchant for extrapolating his clinical findings into a more ambitious general theory. As he admitted to Fliess in 1900, “I am actually not a man of science at all. . . . I am nothing but a conquistador by temperament, an adventurer.” Freud’s so-called metapsychology soon became the basis for wide-ranging speculations about cultural, social, artistic, religious, and anthropological phenomena. Composed of a complicated and often revised mixture of economic, dynamic, and topographical elements, the metapsychology was developed in a series of 12 papers Freud composed during World War I, only some of which were published in his lifetime. Their general findings appeared in two books in the 1920s: Jenseits des Lustprinzips (1920; Beyond the Pleasure Principle) and Das Ich und das Es (1923; The Ego and the Id).

In these works, Freud attempted to clarify the relationship between his earlier topographical division of the psyche into the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious and his subsequent structural categorization into id, ego, and superego. The id was defined in terms of the most primitive urges for gratification in the infant, urges dominated by the desire for pleasure through the release of tension and the cathexis of energy. Ruled by no laws of logic, indifferent to the demands of expediency, unconstrained by the resistance of external reality, the id is ruled by what Freud called the primary process directly expressing somatically generated instincts. Through the inevitable experience of frustration the infant learns to adapt itself to the exigencies of reality. The secondary process that results leads to the growth of the ego, which follows what Freud called the reality principle in contradistinction to the pleasure principle dominating the id. Here the need to delay gratification in the service of self-preservation is slowly learned in an effort to thwart the anxiety produced by unfulfilled desires. What Freud termed defense mechanisms are developed by the ego to deal with such conflicts. Repression is the most fundamental, but Freud also posited an entire repertoire of others, including reaction formation, isolation, undoing, denial, displacement, and rationalization.

The last component in Freud’s trichotomy, the superego, develops from the internalization of society’s moral commands through identification with parental dictates during the resolution of the Oedipus complex. Only partly conscious, the superego gains some of its punishing force by borrowing certain aggressive elements in the id, which are turned inward against the ego and produce feelings of guilt. But it is largely through the internalization of social norms that the superego is constituted, an acknowledgement that prevents psychoanalysis from conceptualizing the psyche in purely biologistic or individualistic terms.

Freud’s understanding of the primary process underwent a crucial shift in the course of his career. Initially he counterposed a libidinal drive that seeks sexual pleasure to a self-preservation drive whose telos is survival. But in 1914, while examining the phenomenon of narcissism, he came to consider the latter instinct as merely a variant of the former. Unable to accept so monistic a drive theory, Freud sought a new dualistic alternative. He arrived at the speculative assertion that there exists in the psyche an innate, regressive drive for stasis that aims to end life’s inevitable tension. This striving for rest he christened the Nirvana principle and the drive underlying it the death instinct, or Thanatos, which he could substitute for self-preservation as the contrary of the life instinct, or Eros.


Social and cultural studies
Freud’s mature instinct theory is in many ways a metaphysical construct, comparable to Bergson’s élan vital or Schopenhauer’s Will. Emboldened by its formulation, Freud launched a series of audacious studies that took him well beyond his clinician’s consulting room. These he had already commenced with investigations of Leonardo da Vinci (1910) and the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen (1907). Here Freud attempted to psychoanalyze works of art as symbolic expressions of their creator’s psychodynamics.

The fundamental premise that permitted Freud to examine cultural phenomena was called sublimation in the Three Essays. The appreciation or creation of ideal beauty, Freud contended, is rooted in primitive sexual urges that are transfigured in culturally elevating ways. Unlike repression, which produces only neurotic symptoms whose meaning is unknown even to the sufferer, sublimation is a conflict-free resolution of repression, which leads to intersubjectively available cultural works. Although potentially reductive in its implications, the psychoanalytic interpretation of culture can be justly called one of the most powerful “hermeneutics of suspicion,” to borrow the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s phrase, because it debunks idealist notions of high culture as the alleged transcendence of baser concerns.

Freud extended the scope of his theories to include anthropological and social psychological speculation as well in Totem und Tabu (1913; Totem and Taboo). Drawing on Sir James Frazer’s explorations of the Australian Aborigines, he interpreted the mixture of fear and reverence for the totemic animal in terms of the child’s attitude toward the parent of the same sex. The Aborigines’ insistence on exogamy was a complicated defense against the strong incestuous desires felt by the child for the parent of the opposite sex. Their religion was thus a phylogenetic anticipation of the ontogenetic Oedipal drama played out in modern man’s psychic development. But whereas the latter was purely an intrapsychic phenomenon based on fantasies and fears, the former, Freud boldly suggested, was based on actual historical events. Freud speculated that the rebellion of sons against dominating fathers for control over women had culminated in actual parricide. Ultimately producing remorse, this violent act led to atonement through incest taboos and the prohibitions against harming the father-substitute, the totemic object or animal. When the fraternal clan replaced the patriarchal horde, true society emerged. For renunciation of individual aspirations to replace the slain father and a shared sense of guilt in the primal crime led to a contractual agreement to end internecine struggle and band together instead. The totemic ancestor then could evolve into the more impersonal God of the great religions.

A subsequent effort to explain social solidarity, Massenpsychologie und Ich-analyse (1921; Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego), drew on the antidemocratic crowd psychologists of the late 19th century, most notably Gustave Le Bon. Here the disillusionment with liberal, rational politics that some have seen as the seedbed of much of Freud’s work was at its most explicit (the only competitor being the debunking psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson he wrote jointly with William Bullitt in 1930, which was not published until 1967). All mass phenomena, Freud suggested, are characterized by intensely regressive emotional ties stripping individuals of their self-control and independence. Rejecting possible alternative explanations such as hypnotic suggestion or imitation and unwilling to follow Jung in postulating a group mind, Freud emphasized instead individual libidinal ties to the group’s leader. Group formation is like regression to a primal horde with the leader as the original father. Drawing on the army and the Roman Catholic Church as his examples, Freud never seriously considered less authoritarian modes of collective behaviour.


Social and cultural studies » Religion, civilization, and discontents
Freud’s bleak appraisal of social and political solidarity was replicated, if in somewhat more nuanced form, in his attitude toward religion. Although many accounts of Freud’s development have discerned debts to one or another aspect of his Jewish background, debts Freud himself partly acknowledged, his avowed position was deeply irreligious. As noted in the account of Totem and Taboo, he always attributed the belief in divinities ultimately to the displaced worship of human ancestors. One of the most potent sources of his break with former disciples like Jung was precisely this skepticism toward spirituality.

In his 1907 essay “Zwangshandlungen und Religionsübungen” (“Obsessive Acts and Religious Practices,” later translated as “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices”) Freud had already contended that obsessional neuroses are private religious systems and religions themselves no more than the obsessional neuroses of mankind. Twenty years later, in Die Zukunft einer Illusion (1927; The Future of an Illusion), he elaborated this argument, adding that belief in God is a mythic reproduction of the universal state of infantile helplessness. Like an idealized father, God is the projection of childish wishes for an omnipotent protector. If children can outgrow their dependence, he concluded with cautious optimism, then humanity may also hope to leave behind its immature heteronomy.

The simple Enlightenment faith underlying this analysis quickly elicited critical comment, which led to its modification. In an exchange of letters with the French novelist Romain Rolland, Freud came to acknowledge a more intractable source of religious sentiment. The opening section of his next speculative tract, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (1930; Civilization and Its Discontents), was devoted to what Rolland had dubbed the oceanic feeling. Freud described it as a sense of indissoluble oneness with the universe, which mystics in particular have celebrated as the fundamental religious experience. Its origin, Freud claimed, is nostalgia for the pre-Oedipal infant’s sense of unity with its mother. Although still rooted in infantile helplessness, religion thus derives to some extent from the earliest stage of postnatal development. Regressive longings for its restoration are possibly stronger than those for a powerful father and thus cannot be worked through by way of a collective resolution of the Oedipus complex.

Civilization and Its Discontents, written after the onset of Freud’s struggle with cancer of the jaw and in the midst of the rise of European Fascism, was a profoundly unconsoling book. Focusing on the prevalence of human guilt and the impossibility of achieving unalloyed happiness, Freud contended that no social solution of the discontents of mankind is possible. All civilizations, no matter how well planned, can provide only partial relief. For aggression among men is not due to unequal property relations or political injustice, which can be rectified by laws, but rather to the death instinct redirected outward.

Even Eros, Freud suggested, is not fully in harmony with civilization, for the libidinal ties creating collective solidarity are aim-inhibited and diffuse rather than directly sexual. Thus, there is likely to be tension between the urge for sexual gratification and the sublimated love for mankind. Furthermore, because Eros and Thanatos are themselves at odds, conflict and the guilt it engenders are virtually inevitable. The best to be hoped for is a life in which the repressive burdens of civilization are in rough balance with the realization of instinctual gratification and the sublimated love for mankind. But reconciliation of nature and culture is impossible, for the price of any civilization is the guilt produced by the necessary thwarting of man’s instinctual drives. Although elsewhere Freud had postulated mature, heterosexual genitality and the capacity to work productively as the hallmarks of health and urged that “where id is, there shall ego be,” it is clear that he held out no hope for any collective relief from the discontents of civilization. He only offered an ethic of resigned authenticity, which taught the wisdom of living without the possibility of redemption, either religious or secular.


Social and cultural studies » Last days
Freud’s final major work, Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion (1938; Moses and Monotheism), was more than just the “historical novel” he had initially thought to subtitle it. Moses had long been a figure of capital importance for Freud; indeed Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses had been the subject of an essay written in 1914. The book itself sought to solve the mystery of Moses’ origins by claiming that he was actually an aristocratic Egyptian by birth who had chosen the Jewish people to keep alive an earlier monotheistic religion. Too stern and demanding a taskmaster, Moses was slain in a Jewish revolt, and a second, more pliant leader, also called Moses, rose in his place. The guilt engendered by the parricidal act was, however, too much to endure, and the Jews ultimately returned to the religion given them by the original Moses as the two figures were merged into one in their memories. Here Freud’s ambivalence about his religious roots and his father’s authority was allowed to pervade a highly fanciful story that reveals more about its author than its ostensible subject.

Moses and Monotheism was published in the year Hitler invaded Austria. Freud was forced to flee to England. His books were among the first to be burned, as the fruits of a “Jewish science,” when the Nazis took over Germany. Although psychotherapy was not banned in the Third Reich, where Field Marshall Hermann Göring’s cousin headed an official institute, psychoanalysis essentially went into exile, most notably to North America and England. Freud himself died only a few weeks after World War II broke out, at a time when his worst fears about the irrationality lurking behind the facade of civilization were being realized. Freud’s death did not, however, hinder the reception and dissemination of his ideas. A plethora of Freudian schools emerged to develop psychoanalysis in different directions. In fact, despite the relentless and often compelling challenges mounted against virtually all of his ideas, Freud has remained one of the most potent figures in the intellectual landscape of the 20th century.

Martin Evan Jay
 

 

 





see also collection Pin-Up Weird Tales

 


E.T.A. Hoffmann


Weird Tales. Vol. I

Weird Tales, Vol. II





German writer, composer, and painter
in full Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, original name Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann
born January 24, 1776, Königsberg, Prussia [now Kaliningrad, Russia]
died June 25, 1822, Berlin, Germany

Main
German writer, composer, and painter known for his stories in which supernatural and sinister characters move in and out of men’s lives, ironically revealing tragic or grotesque sides of human nature.

The product of a broken home, Hoffmann was reared by an uncle. He was educated in law and became a Prussian law officer in the Polish provinces in 1800, serving until the bureaucracy was dissolved following the defeat of Prussia by Napoleon in 1806. Hoffmann then turned to his chief interest, music, and held several positions as conductor, critic, and theatrical musical director in Bamberg and Dresden until 1814. About 1813 he changed his third baptismal name, Wilhelm, to Amadeus in homage to the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He composed the ballet Arlequin (1811) and the opera Undine (performed in 1816) and wrote the stories in Phantasiestücke in Callots Manier, 4 vol. (1814–15; Fantasy Pieces in Callot’s Manner), that established his reputation as a writer. He was appointed in 1814 to the court of appeal in Berlin, becoming councillor in 1816.
Although Hoffmann wrote two novels, Die Elixiere des Teufels, 2 vol. (1815–16; The Devil’s Elixir), and Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler, 2 vol. (1820–22; “The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr, with a Fragmentary Biography of Conductor Johannes Kreisler”), and more than 50 short stories before his death from progressive paralysis, he continued to support himself as a legal official in Berlin. His later story collections, Nachtstücke, 2 parts (1817; Hoffmann’s Strange Stories), and Die Serapionsbrüder, 4 vol. (1819–21; The Serapion Brethren), were popular in England, the United States, and France. Continued publication of the stories into the second half of the 20th century attested to their popularity.
In his stories Hoffmann skillfully combined wild flights of imagination with vivid and convincing examinations of human character and psychology. The weird and mysterious atmosphere of his maniacs, spectres, and automata thus intermingles with an exact and realistic narrative style. The struggle within Hoffmann between the ideal world of his art and his daily life as a bureaucrat is evident in many of his stories, in which characters are possessed by their art. His use of fantasy, ranging from fanciful fairy tales to highly suggestive stories of the macabre and supernatural, served as inspiration to several operatic composers. Richard Wagner drew on stories from Die Serapionsbrüder for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868), as did Paul Hindemith in Cardillac (1926) and Jacques Offenbach in The Tales of Hoffmann (1881), in which Hoffmann himself is the central figure. The ballet Coppélia (1870), by Léo Delibes, is also based on a Hoffmann story, as is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet suite, The Nutcracker (1892).

 

 


Heinrich Heine


"Poems and Ballads"



 

German author
in full Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, original name (until 1825) Harry Heine

born December 13, 1797, Düsseldorf, Prussia
died February 17, 1856, Paris

Main
German poet whose international literary reputation and influence were established by the Buch der Lieder (1827; The Book of Songs), frequently set to music, though the more sombre poems of his last years are also highly regarded.

Life
Heine was born of Jewish parents. His father was a handsome and kindly but somewhat ineffectual merchant; his mother was fairly well educated for her time and sharply ambitious for her son. Much of Heine’s early life, however, was influenced by the financial power of his uncle Salomon Heine, a millionaire Hamburg banker who endeavoured to trade generosity for obedience and with whom Heine remained on an awkward and shifting footing for many years. After he had been educated in the Düsseldorf Lyceum, an unsuccessful attempt was undertaken to make a businessman of him, first in banking, then in retailing. Eventually, his uncle was prevailed upon to finance a university education, and Heine attended the universities of Bonn, Göttingen, Berlin, and Göttingen again, where he finally took a degree in law with absolutely minimal achievement in 1825. In that same year, in order to open up the possibility of a civil service career, closed to Jews at that time, he converted to Protestantism with little enthusiasm and some resentment. He never practiced law, however, nor held a position in government service; and his student years had been primarily devoted not to the studies for which his uncle had been paying but to poetry, literature, and history.


Early works
Heine’s pre-university years are rather obscure, but during this period he apparently conceived an infatuation for one, and possibly both, of his uncle’s daughters, neither of whom had the slightest notion of mortgaging her future to a dreamy and incompetent cousin. Out of the emotional desolation of this experience arose, over a period of years, the poems eventually collected in The Book of Songs. The sound of Romantic poetry was firmly lodged in Heine’s ear; but the Romantic faith, the hope for a poeticization of life and the world to overcome the revolution, alienation, and anxiety of the times, was not in his heart. Thus, he became the major representative of the post-Romantic crisis in Germany, a time overshadowed by the stunning achievements of Goethe, Schiller, and the Romantics but increasingly aware of the inadequacy of this tradition to the new stresses and upheavals of a later age. The most consistent characteristic of Heine’s thought and writing throughout his career is a taut and ambiguous tension between “poesy,” as he called the artistic sensibility, and reality. His love poems, though they employ Romantic materials, are at the same time suspicious of them and of the feelings they purportedly represent. They are bittersweet and self-ironic, displaying at the same time poetic virtuosity and a skepticism about poetic truth; their music is now liquid, now discordant, and the collection as a whole moves in the direction of desentimentalization and a new integration of the poet’s self-regard in the awareness of his artistic genius.

The steady growth of Heine’s fame in the 1820s was accelerated by a series of experiments in prose. In the fall of 1824, in order to relax from his hated studies in Göttingen, he took a walking tour through the Harz Mountains and wrote a little book about it, fictionalizing his modest adventure and weaving into it elements both of his poetic imagination and of sharp-eyed social comment. “Die Harzreise” (“The Harz Journey”) became the first piece of what were to be four volumes of Reisebilder (1826–31; Pictures of Travel); the whimsical amalgam of its fact and fiction, autobiography, social criticism, and literary polemic was widely imitated by other writers in subsequent years. Some of the pieces were drawn from a journey to England Heine made in 1827 and a trip to Italy in 1828, but the finest of them, “Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand” (1827; “Ideas. The Book Le Grand”), is a journey into the self, a wittily woven fabric of childhood memory, enthusiasm for Napoleon, ironic sorrow at unhappy love, and political allusion.


Later life and works
When the July Revolution of 1830 occurred in France, Heine did not, like many of his liberal and radical contemporaries, race to Paris at once but continued his more or less serious efforts to find some sort of paying position in Germany. In the spring of 1831 he finally went to Paris, where he was to live for the rest of his life. He had originally been attracted by the new Saint-Simonian religion (a socialistic ideology according to which the state should own all property and the worker should be entitled to share according to the quality and amount of his work); it inspired in him hopes for a modern doctrine that would overcome the repressive ideologies of the past and put what he variously called spiritualism and sensualism, or Nazarenism (adherence to Judeo-Christian ideals) and Hellenism (adherence to ancient Greek ideals), into a new balance for a happier human society. His critical concern with political and social matters deepened as he watched the development of limited democracy and a capitalist order in the France of the citizen-king, Louis-Philippe. He wrote a series of penetrating newspaper articles about the new order in France, which he collected in book form as Französische Zustände (1832; “French Affairs”) and followed with two studies of German culture, Die Romantische Schule (1833–35; The Romantic School) and “Zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland” (1834–35; “On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany”), in which he mounted a criticism of Germany’s present and recent past and argued the long-range revolutionary potential of the German heritage of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and modern critical philosophy. The books were conceived with a French audience in mind and were originally published in French. In 1840–43 he wrote another series of newspaper articles about French life, culture, and politics, which he reedited and published as Lutezia, the ancient Roman name for Paris, in 1854.

During these years, then, Heine’s attention turned from “poesy” to writing of contemporary relevance. His second volume of poems, Neue Gedichte (1844; New Poems), illustrates the change. The first group, “Neuer Frühling” (“New Spring,” written mostly in 1830/31), is a more mannered reprise of the love poems of Buch der Lieder, and the volume also contains some ballad poetry, a genre in which Heine worked all his life. But the second group, “Verschiedene” (“Varia”), is made up of short cycles of sour poems about inconstant relationships with the blithe girls of Paris; the disillusioning tone of the poems was widely misunderstood and held against him. Another section is called “Zeitgedichte” (“Contemporary Poems”), a group of harsh verses of political satire. Several of these were written for Karl Marx’s newspaper Vorwärts (“Forward”). Heine had become acquainted with the young Marx at the end of 1843, and it was at this time that he produced, after a visit to his family in Germany, a long verse satire, Deutschland, Ein Wintermärchen (1844; Germany, a Winter’s Tale), a stinging attack on reactionary conditions in Germany. Though Heine remained on good, if not intimate, terms with Marx in later years, he never was much taken with Communism, which did not fit his ideal of a revolution of joy and sensuality. About the time that he met Marx, he also wrote another long poem, Atta Troll. Ein Sommernachtstraum (1843–45; Atta Troll, a Midsummer Night’s Dream), a comic spoof of radical pomposity and the clumsiness of contemporary political verse.

Heine’s early years in Paris were his happiest. From an outcast in the society of his own rich uncle, he was transformed into a leading literary personality, and he became acquainted with many of the prominent people of his time. In 1834 he found in an uneducated shopgirl, Crescence Eugénie Mirat, whom for some reason he called “Mathilde,” a loyal if obstreperous mistress. He married her in 1841. But troubles were soon hard upon him. His critical and satirical writings brought him into grave difficulties with the German censorship, and, at the end of 1835, the Federal German Diet tried to enforce a nationwide ban on all his works. He was surrounded by police spies, and his voluntary exile became an imposed one. In 1840 Heine wrote a witty but ill-advised book on the late Ludwig Börne (1786–1837), the leader of the German radicals in Paris, in which Heine attempted to defend his own more subtle stand against what he thought of as the shallowness of political activism; but the arrogance and ruthlessness of the book alienated all camps.

Though never destitute, Heine was always out of money; and when his uncle died in 1844, all but disinheriting him, he began, under the eyes of all Europe, a violent struggle for the inheritance, which was settled with the grant of a right of censorship over his writings to his uncle’s family; in this way, apparently, the bulk of Heine’s memoirs was lost to posterity. The information, revealed after the French Revolution of 1848, that he had been receiving a secret pension from the French government, further embarrassed him.

The worst of his sufferings, however, were caused by his deteriorating health. An apparently venereal disease began to attack one part of his nervous system after another, and from the spring of 1848 he was confined to his “mattress-grave,” paralyzed, tortured with spinal cramps, and partially blind. Heine returned again to “poesy.” With sardonic evasiveness he abjured his faith in the divinity of man and acknowledged a personal God in order to squabble with him about the unjust governance of the world. His third volume of poems, Romanzero (1851), is full of heartrending laments and bleak glosses on the human condition; many of these poems are now regarded as among his finest. A final collection, Gedichte 1853 und 1854 (Poems 1853 and 1854), is of the same order. After nearly eight years of torment, Heine died and was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.


Assessment
Heine’s power to annoy was as great as his power to charm and move, and rarely has a great poet been so controversial in his own country. His aggressive satires, radical postures, and insouciance about his methods made him appear to many as an unpatriotic and subversive scoundrel, and the growth of anti-Semitism contributed to the case against him. Efforts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to erect monuments to him in various German cities touched off riots and shook governments. In view of the popularity of many of his songs, the Nazis were obliged to include them in anthologies but marked them “author unknown.” For many decades his literary reputation was stronger abroad, especially in France, England, and America, where his wit and ambivalence were better appreciated, than at home. Today the evaluation of Heine’s political role and its relationship to Marxism supplies a bone of contention between East and West. Deplorable as much of this history of his reputation has been, it is testimony to the enduring impact of a genuinely European poet and writer.

Jeffrey L. Sammons
 



 

Realist modes


Bourgeois Realism

The deaths of
Hegel in 1831 and of Goethe in 1832 released many German writers from the feeling that they stood in the shadow of great men. A new group of writers, only very loosely connected, began to emerge who felt that the aesthetic models of the age of Goethe could be laid aside in favour of a distinctly political form of literature. Inspired by the July Revolution in France (1830), these young German liberals aimed to have a direct impact on social, political, and moral realities. They opted in the main for literary forms such as pamphlets, essays, journalism, and satire. The agitations of this period gave rise to a tradition of political lyric, exemplified by the work of Heinrich Heine, which continued to provide models for political poetry into the late 20th century. Many of the “Young German” writers were prohibited from publishing their writing in Germany, because of their opposition to feudal absolutism and their promotion of democratic ideals. Some produced their works in exile, as in the case of Heine, whose long poem Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen (1844; Germany, A Winter’s Tale) presented a damning critique of his native land, and Ludwig Börne, whose Briefe aus Paris (1831–34; Letters from Paris) provided an influential record of the political ferment in France. Others were condemned to periods of imprisonment, as were Karl Gutzkow for his novel Wally die Zweiflerin (1835; Wally the Sceptic) and Heinrich Laube for his journalistic activity in support of political liberalism. Georg Büchner narrowly escaped imprisonment following the publication of his radical socialist pamphlet Der hessische Landbote (1834; “Messenger to the Hessian Peasants”), an attack on authoritarian government in his native Hesse. He is best known for his revolutionary drama Dantons Tod (1835; Danton’s Death) and for his remarkable dramatic fragment and critique of the social class system, Woyzeck (1879; Eng. trans. Woyzeck), published posthumously.


 


Ludwig Börne





Karl Ludwig Börne (6 May 1786 – 12 February 1837) was a German political writer and satirist.

 

He was born Loeb Baruch at Frankfurt am Main, son of Jakob Baruch, a banker. He received his early education at Gießen, but as Jews were ineligible at that time for public appointments in Frankfurt, young Baruch was sent to study medicine at Berlin under a physician, Markus Herz, whose house he lived in. Young Baruch became infatuated by his patron's wife, the talented and beautiful Henriette Herz (1764–1847), and expressed his adoration in a series of remarkable letters. Tiring of medical science, which he had subsequently pursued at Halle, he studied constitutional law and political science at Heidelberg and Giessen, and in 1811 took his doctor's degree at Giessen university. On his return to Frankfurt, now constituted as a grand duchy under the sovereignty of the prince bishop Karl von Dalberg, he received (1811) the appointment of police actuary in that city.

In 1814 and he had to resign his post due to his ethnicity. Embittered by the oppression suffered by Jews in Germany, he took to journalism and edited the Frankfurt liberal newspapers Staatsristretto and Die Zeitschwingen.

In 1818 he converted to Lutheran Protestantism, changing his name from Lob Baruch to Ludwig Börne. From 1818 to 1821 he edited Die Wage, a paper distinguished by its lively political articles and its powerful but sarcastic theatrical criticisms. This paper was suppressed by the police, and in 1821 Börne took a pause from journalismn and led a quiet life in Paris, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

After the July Revolution (1830), he hurried to Paris, expecting to find society nearer to his own ideas of freedom. Although to some extent disappointed in his hopes, he did not look any more kindly on the political condition of Germany; this lent additional zest to the brilliant satirical letters (Briefe aus Paris, 1830–1833, published Paris, 1834), which he began to publish in his last literary venture, La Balance, a revival of Die Wage. The Briefe aus Paris was Börne's most important publication, and a landmark in the history of German journalism. Its appearance led him to be regarded as a leading thinker in Germany. He died in Paris in 1837.

Börne's works are known for brilliant style and for thoroughly French satire. His best criticism is to be found in his Denkrede auf Jean Paul (1826), a writer for whom he had warm sympathy and admiration; in his Dramaturgische Bltter (1829–1834); and the witty satire, Menzel der Franzosenfresser (1837). He also wrote a number of short stories and sketches, of which the best known are the Mono graphie der deutschen Postschnecke (1829) and Der Esskunstler (1822).
 

 

 


Karl Gutzkow





 

born March 17, 1811, Berlin, Prussia [Germany]
died Dec. 16, 1878, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt am Main


novelist and dramatist who was a pioneer of the modern social novel in Germany.

Gutzkow began his career as a journalist and first attracted attention with the publication of Maha Guru, Geschichte eines Gottes (1833; “Maha Guru, Story of a God”), a fantastic satirical romance. In 1835 he published Wally, die Zweiflerin (“Wally, the Doubter”), an attack on marriage, coloured by religious skepticism, that marked the beginning of the revolt of the Young Germany movement against Romanticism. The book excited virulent discussion, and the federal Diet condemned Gutzkow to three months’ imprisonment and ordered the suppression of all his works. After his release he produced the tragedy Richard Savage (1839), the first in a series of well-constructed and effective plays. His domestic tragedy Werner oder Herz und Welt (1840; “Werner or Heart and World”) long remained in the repertory of the German theatres. Gutzkow also wrote Das Urbild des Tartüffe (1844; “The Model for Tartuffe”), a clever and topical satirical comedy; and Uriel Acosta (1846), which uses the story of the martyrdom of that forerunner of Spinoza to make a plea for religious freedom. By this time he had published the novel Blasedow und seine Söhne (1838; “Blasedow and His Sons”), a humorous satire on the educational theories of the time.

In 1847 Gutzkow went to Dresden, where he succeeded the Romantic writer and drama theorist Ludwig Tieck as literary adviser to the court theatre. In 1850 there appeared the first of the nine volumes of Die Ritter vom Geiste (“The Knights of the Spirit”), now considered the starting point of the modern German social novel; it also anticipated the Naturalist movement.

His final well-known work, Der Zauberer von Rom (1858–61; “The Magician of Rome”), is a powerful study of Roman Catholic life in southern Germany.
 

 

 


Georg Buchner





 

born Oct. 17, 1813, Goddelau, Hesse-Darmstadt [Germany]
died Feb. 19, 1837, Zürich, Switz.


German dramatist, a major forerunner of the Expressionist school of playwriting of the early 20th century.

The son of an army doctor, Büchner studied medicine at the Universities of Strasbourg and Giessen. Caught up in the movement inspired by the Paris uprising of 1830, Büchner published a pamphlet, Der hessische Landbote (1834; The Hessian Messenger), in Giessen calling for economic and political revolution, and he also founded a radical society, the Society for Human Rights. He escaped arrest by fleeing to Strasbourg, where he completed a dissertation. This earned him an appointment as a lecturer in natural science at the University of Zürich in 1836. He died in Zürich of typhoid fever the following year.

Büchner’s three plays were clearly influenced in style by William Shakespeare and by the German Romantic Sturm und Drang movement. In content and form they were far ahead of their time. Their short, abrupt scenes combined extreme naturalism with visionary power. His first play, Dantons Tod (1835; Danton’s Death), a drama of the French Revolution, is suffused with deep pessimism. Its protagonist, the revolutionary Danton, is shown as a man deeply distraught at the bloodshed he had helped unleash. Leonce und Lena (written 1836), a satire on the nebulous nature of Romantic ideas, shows the influence of Alfred de Musset and Clemens Brentano. His last work, Woyzeck, a fragment, anticipated the social drama of the 1890s with its compassion for the poor and oppressed. Except for Dantons Tod, not produced until 1902, Büchner’s writings appeared posthumously, the fragmentary Lenz in 1839 and Woyzeck not until 1879. Woyzeck served as the libretto for Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck (1925).

Büchner, the elder brother of the physician and philosopher Ludwig Büchner, exercised a marked influence on the naturalistic drama that came into vogue in the 1890s and, later, on the Expressionism that voiced the disillusionment of many artists and intellectuals after World War I. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding figures in German dramatic literature.
 



 

German realism, variously termed Bourgeois, or Poetic, Realism, is usually thought to have begun about 1840. In its earliest manifestations German realism is closely linked with the Biedermeier movement in art and interior decoration, a sedate and dignified style that emphasized the value of real things, domestic tranquility, and the social status quo. Writers linked with Biedermeier are Adalbert Stifter, Eduard Friedrich Mörike, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Karl Immermann, and Nikolaus Lenau. Adalbert Stifter paid loving attention to detail, cherishing individual objects, plants, and stones because, large or small, they bore witness to the order of the cosmos as a whole. In the preface to his collection of stories Bunte Steine (1853; “Stones of Many Colours”), Stifter enunciates most movingly his principle of the “sanftes Gesetz” (“gentle law of nature”), according to which the force that causes milk to boil over in the pot is the same as that which causes volcanoes to erupt. By attending to small phenomena that commonly recur, Stifter argues, one can more effectively represent reality than by focusing on more cataclysmic events. His carefully controlled narrative style, with its repeated motifs and structural symmetries, reveals upon closer inspection an awareness of upheaval and disruption.


 


Adalbert Stifter


born Oct. 23, 1805, Oberplan, Austria
died Jan. 28, 1868, Linz


Austrian narrative writer whose novels of almost classical purity exalt the humble virtues of a simple life. He was the son of a linen weaver and flax merchant, and his childhood experiences in the country, surrounded by peasant craftsmen, provided the setting for his work.

Stifter was educated at the Kremsmünster abbey school. He enrolled as a law student in Vienna, but for the most part he attended scientific lectures and took no degree. After many years of precarious living as a tutor, artist, and writer, in 1840 he began to publish stories, including Der Condor (1840), Feldblumen (1841; “Wildflowers”), and Die Mappe meines Urgrossvaters (1841–42; “My Greatgrandfather’s Portfolio”). In Brigitta (1844) the basic structure of his major work began to emerge: he saw that an inner unity of the landscape and people—a crucial part of life for him—must also determine the shape of his story. Collections of revised stories, Studien, 6 vol. (1844–50; “Studies”) and Bunte Steine (1853; “Colourful Stones”), brought him fame. In the important preface to the latter book, he expounded his doctrine of the “law of gentleness” as the enduring principle.

During the political turmoil of 1848–50, Stifter was deeply involved in the debate over the role of education; in 1850 he moved from Vienna to Linz, becoming an inspector of schools. The novel Der Nachsommer (1857; “Indian Summer”), his greatest work, depicts a young man learning and growing; the work radiates a still and sun-soaked beauty and a restrained idealism, set against the landscape Stifter loved. His epic Witiko (1865–67) uses medieval Bohemian history as a symbol for the human struggle for a just and peaceful order. Other stories followed, but he was too ill to finish his project of expanding Die Mappe meines Urgrossvaters into a novel: only the first volume was completed.

 

 


Eduard Friedrich Mörike



 

born Sept. 8, 1804, Ludwigsburg, Württemberg [Germany]
died June 4, 1875, Stuttgart


one of Germany’s greatest lyric poets.

After studying theology at Tübingen (1822–26), Mörike held several curacies before becoming, in 1834, pastor of Cleversulzbach, the remote Württemberg village immortalized in Der alte Turmhahn, where inhabitants and pastor are seen through the whimsical but percipient eyes of an old weathercock. All his life Mörike suffered from psychosomatic illnesses, which were possibly intensified by an unconscious conflict between his humanist aspirations and his church dogmas. When only 39, Mörike retired on a pension, but after his marriage to Margarete von Speeth in 1851, he supplemented his pension by lecturing on German literature at a girls’ school in Stuttgart. After many years of rich literary achievement, the tensions caused by Margarete’s jealousy of Clara, Mörike’s sister who lived with them, almost killed his creative urge. Mörike spent most of his last two years with Clara and his younger daughter and was separated from Margarete until shortly before his death.

Mörike’s small output is characterized by its variety. Everything he wrote has its own distinctive flavour, but in his early days romantic influences preponderate. His novel, Maler Nolten (1832), in addition to its stylistic perfection and psychological insight into mental unbalance, explores the realm of the subconscious and the mysterious forces linking the main character and his early love even beyond the grave. Mörike’s poems in folk-song style and his fairy tales also show the influence of German romanticism, though his best folk tale, Das Stuttgarter Hutzelmännlein (1853), is peculiarly his own, with its Swabian background and humour. In his Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag (1856), Mörike penetrates deeper into Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s personality than do many longer studies.

It is, however, as a lyric poet that Mörike is at the height of his powers. Mörike worked with free rhythms, sonnets, regular stanza forms, and, more particularly in his later poems, classical metres with equal virtuosity. The “Peregrina” poems, immortalizing a youthful love of his Tübingen days, and the sonnets to Luise Rau, his one-time betrothed, are among the most exquisite German love lyrics.
 

 

 


Annette von Droste-Hülshoff


born Jan. 10, 1797, Schloss Hülshoff, near Münster, Westphalia [Germany]
died May 24, 1848, Meersburg, Baden


poet and prose writer, among the most important poets of 19th-century Germany and the author of a novella considered a forerunner of 19th-century realistic fiction.

Born into a family of Roman Catholic aristocracy, she was educated by tutors and lived most of her life in isolation. She owed her introduction to literature to a young novelist, Levin Schücking (1814–83), for whom, despite their difference in age, she developed a deep, suppressed, and unreciprocated passion. Her first collection of poetry, Gedichte (1838; “Poems”), included poems of a deeply religious nature. Between 1829 and 1839 she wrote a cycle of religious poems, Das geistliche Jahr (1851; “The Spiritual Year”), which contains some of the most earnest religious poetry of the 19th century and reflects the inner turbulence and doubt of her spiritual life.

Her fame rests chiefly on her poetry dealing with her native Westphalian landscape. An extremely sensitive and acute observer, she created detailed and evocative descriptions of extraordinary poetic beauty, capturing the atmosphere of her homeland, particularly its gloomy heaths and moorlands. Her only complete prose work, a novella, Die Judenbuche (1842; The Jew’s Beech), is a psychological study of a Westphalian villager who murders a Jew. For the first time in German literature, the fate of the hero is portrayed as arising from his social environment; the crime becomes understandable within the context of the life in the village.
 

 

 


Karl Immermann



 

born April 24, 1796, Magdeburg, Saxony
died Aug. 25, 1840, Düsseldorf, Prussia


dramatist and novelist whose works included two forerunners in German literary history: Die Epigonen as a novel of the contemporary social scene and Der Oberhof as a realistic story of village life.

The son of a civil servant, Immermann interrupted his legal studies in Halle (1813–17) to fight in the last phase of the Napoleonic Wars. While working in the military court in Münster (1819–24), he fell in love with Elisa von Lützow, the wife of the Prussian general Adolf, Freiherr von Lützow. Their passionate love affair ended 14 years after the Lützow divorce (1825) because Elisa unwaveringly refused to enter upon a second marriage. At the beginning of 1824, Immermann became judge in the criminal court at Magdeburg, moving to the provincial court at Düsseldorf three years later. In Düsseldorf he designed and built a “model” theatre where, in accordance with Goethe’s theories, he especially cultivated ensemble. In 1839 Immermann was married to the 20-year-old Marianne Niemeyer, and the new life and new happiness that his marriage gave him found expression in his epic Tristan und Isolde, which was left unfinished at his death.

Immermann’s writing is deeply marked by the transitional nature of his time. He was an eyewitness of the decline of the old aristocracy, the rise of the bourgeoisie, and the spread of industrialism and liberalism. His dramatic works include Das Trauerspiel in Tyrol (1828; remodeled in 1835 as Andreas Hofer); Merlin (1832); the trilogy Alexis (1832); and the comic epic Tulifäntchen (1830), a witty parody of the decline of the nobility and of romantic chivalry. Immermann’s novels, however, with their acute diagnosis of the period, are more important than his plays. Die Epigonen (1836) gives a cross section of the society of his own period, deploring both the nobility’s decay and the dangers posed by radicalism and money-worship. The convoluted tale is a pessimistic picture of society on the brink of a painful adjustment to industrialized mass society. The novel Münchhausen (1838–39) consists of two parts: a highly satirical and ludicrous portrayal of an idle and mendacious aristocrat, and a solidly visualized portrayal of peasants rooted in their work and in their countryside. In this latter section Immermann glorifies the sturdy respectability of the peasantry, in whom he saw the strength of the German national heritage and the means for its regeneration.

 

 


Nikolaus Lenau




 

born Aug. 13, 1802, Csatád, Hung.
died Aug. 22, 1850, Oberdöbling, near Vienna, Austria

Austrian poet known for melancholy lyrical verse that mirrors the pessimism of his time as well as his personal despair.

Severe depression and dissatisfaction characterized Lenau’s life. He began, but never completed, studies in law, medicine, and philosophy. A legacy in 1830 enabled him to devote himself to writing. Frequent moves, a number of unhappy love affairs, and a disastrous year-long emigration to the United States in 1832–33 further exemplified the general disappointment he felt at the failure of his life and acquaintances to measure up to his artistic ideals. He recognized that his inability to keep separate the spheres of poetic expression and real life was both the source of his depression and the root of his art.

Lenau’s fame rests predominantly on his shorter lyrical poems. These early poems, which were published in Gedichte (1832; “Poems”) and Neuere Gedichte (1838; “Newer Poems”), demonstrate close ties to the Weltschmerz (“World Pain”) mood of the Romantic period and reveal a personal, almost religious relationship to nature. His later poems, Gesammelte Gedichte, 2 vol. (1844), and the religious epics Savonarola (1837) and Die Albigenser (1842; “The Albigensians”), deal with his relentless and unsuccessful search for order and constancy in love, nature, and faith. Following J.W. von Goethe’s death in 1832, the appearance in 1833 of the second part of his Faust inspired many renditions of the legend. Lenau’s Faust: Ein Gedicht (published 1836, revised 1840) is noticeably derivative of Goethe’s, but Lenau’s version has Faust confronting an absurd life that is devoid of any absolute values, the same position in which Lenau felt himself to be. Lenau’s lifelong mental illness resulted in a complete breakdown in 1844 and later to near-total paralysis from which he never recovered. His epic Don Juan (1851) appeared posthumously. His letters to Baroness Sophie von Löwenthal, with whom he was in love from 1834 to his death, were published in 1968.
 

 

The Bourgeois Realists refrained from depicting the larger social and political world as exemplified in urban reality and focused instead on village or peasant life and isolated individuals cut off from world events. Swiss writers Gottfried Keller and Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) are representative of this tendency, often known as “provincial realism.” Keller’s representative work is his collection of stories about life in his home country, Die Leute von Seldwyla (1856–74; The People of Seldwyla). Gotthelf is best known for his novella Die schwarze Spinne (1842; The Black Spider). Similarly, in his collection of stories Studien (1844–50; “Studies”), Stifter prefers isolated geographic settings, frequently the heart of the forest, and lonely protagonists whose little worlds are almost entirely of their own making. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s novella Die Judenbuche (1842; The Jew’s Beech), a murder mystery set in a Westphalian village, also belongs to this genre.

The Bourgeois Realists saw themselves as epigones or latecomers who could only inadequately emulate the great works of their predecessor Goethe. The two major novels of Bourgeois Realism, Stifter’s Der Nachsommer (1857; Indian Summer) and Keller’s Der grüne Heinrich (first version 1854–55; Green Henry) are suffused with an acute awareness of the fragility of memory, a deep sense of personal loss, and a consciousness that reality cannot live up to the ideal. Nineteenth-century lyric poetry, especially that of Eduard Friedrich Mörike and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, is similarly marked by a highly sensitive, elegiac relation to experience.

In contrast to the German Romantics, the German Bourgeois Realists did not attempt to create an all-encompassing philosophy. Instead, they focused on the essential subjectivity of experience. The individual’s angle of vision was fundamentally important to them, and to illustrate that subjectivity they made frequent use of metaphors having to do with sight and the instruments of sight. The novella, originally derived from the technique of embedding individual stories within a large narrative frame, is used by the Bourgeois Realists to draw attention to the limitations of individual subjectivity and to the problems of narration. Thus, despite its focus on the world of “objects,” German realism is anything other than objective. Later realist works, notably those of Wilhelm Raabe, explore the problem of how human beings come to know what they do and draw attention to the troublesome problem of gaps in their knowledge. Perhaps the best example is Raabe’s novel Stopfkuchen (1891; “Plumcake”), a circuitous double-framework narrative about a long-unresolved murder. Similarly, Theodor Woldsen Storm’s doubly framed novella Der Schimmelreiter (1888; The Rider on the White Horse) strikes a precarious balance between rational knowledge and superstition against the backdrop of Frisian village life.
 


Gottfried Keller





 

born July 19, 1819, Zürich
died July 16, 1890, Zürich


the greatest German-Swiss narrative writer of late 19th-century Poetischer Realismus (“Poetic Realism”).

His father, a lathe artisan, died in Keller’s early childhood, but his strong-willed, devoted mother struggled to provide him with an education. After being expelled from secondary school for a prank, he took up landscape painting. Two years’ study in Munich (1840–42) brought little success, so he returned to Zürich, where he published his first poems in 1846. From 1848 to 1850 the Zürich government sponsored his studies at Heidelberg, where he was deeply influenced by the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. From 1850 to 1855 he lived in Berlin.

Intending to write for the theatre, he wrote instead the long autobiographical novel Der grüne Heinrich (1854–55; Green Henry). It was completely revised 25 years later (1879–80), and in this version, which is standard, the personal story of a young man’s development becomes a classic Bildungsroman (educational novel) in the tradition of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. Green Henry (so called because his frugal mother made all his clothes from a single bolt of green cloth) sets out to become an artist. After some success and many disappointments, he returns to his native city and wins some respect and contentment in a modest post as a civil servant. Keller returned to Zürich in 1855 and became clerk to the canton (1861–76). These 15 years allowed him almost no time for writing. He resumed his literary career late in life.

Keller is best known for his short stories, some of which are collected as Die Leute von Seldwyla (1856–74; The People of Seldwyla) and Sieben Legenden (1872; Seven Legends). His last novel, Martin Salander (1886), deals with political life in Switzerland in his time.

 

 


Jeremias Gotthelf



 

born Oct. 4, 1797, Morat, Switz.
died Oct. 22, 1854, Lützelflüh


Swiss novelist and short-story writer whose vivid narrative works extol the virtues of Bernese rural people and defend traditional church and family life.

The son of a pastor, Bitzius studied theology at Bern and Göttingen and took part in the political activities that ended the rule of the aristocracy in Bern. After becoming pastor of Lützelflüh, in the Emmental, in 1832, he made great efforts to enlighten the local people and tried to bring about universal education. He founded an institution for the neglected.

When radical tendencies began to appear in Swiss liberalism, Bitzius became more conservative. His desire to preserve Christian beliefs in a world threatened by materialism stimulated him to begin writing. His Der Bauernspiegel (1837; “Mirror of the Peasants”) was followed by other works dealing with rural people, including Leiden und Freuden eines Schulmeisters, 2 vol. (1838–39; The Joys and Sorrows of a School-master, 1864), Die Armennot (1840; “Needs of the Poor”), and Uli der Knecht (1841; Ulric the Farm Servant). Although his purpose was didactic, he showed exceptional literary talent. His 13 novels and more than 50 short stories reveal not only his genius as an epic writer and his poetic gifts but also his intense interest in people. Psychological observation, imagination, and creative power of language enabled him to achieve vivid portraits.

His complete works, in 24 volumes, were edited by R. Hunziker and H. Bloesch, with supplementary volumes of letters, sermons, political writings, and juvenilia (1911–37).
 

 

 


Wilhelm Raabe



 

pseudonym Jakob Corvinus

born Sept. 8, 1831, Eschershausen, near Hildesheim, Braunschweig
died Nov. 15, 1910, Braunschweig, Ger.

German writer best known for realistic novels of middle-class life.

After leaving school in Wolfenbüttel in 1849, Raabe was apprenticed for four years to a Magdeburg book dealer, during which time he read widely. Although he attended lectures at Berlin University, the important product of his time in Berlin was his popular first novel, published under his pseudonym, Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse (1857; “The Chronicle of Sperling Street”), which depicts episodes in the lives lived out on one small street. In 1856 Raabe returned to Wolfenbüttel, determined to make a living as a writer. He published a number of novels and story collections, none of which attracted much attention, and then set out to travel through Austria and Germany.

In 1862 he married and settled in Stuttgart, where he lived until 1870. During the Stuttgart years he wrote his then most successful novels, Der Hungerpastor, 3 vol. (1864; The Hunger-Pastor), Abu Telfan, oder Die Heimkehr vom Mondgebirge, 3 vol. (1868; Abu Telfan, Return from the Mountains of the Moon), and Der Schüdderump, 3 vol. (1870; “The Rickety Cart”). These three novels are often viewed as a trilogy that is central to Raabe’s generally pessimistic outlook, which views the difficulties of the individual in a world over which he has little control. Discouraged by a lack of public acclaim in Stuttgart, Raabe returned to Braunschweig, where he spent the last 40 years of his life. He specialized in short stories and involved shorter novels, which are now considered his most original, revealing a mature acceptance of compromise between the old order and the bewildering changes brought about by industrialization and urbanization. They are less pessimistic than his earlier books. Notable among them is Stopfkuchen (1891; “Stuffing Cake”; Eng. trans. Tubby Schaumann).
 

 

 


Theodor Woldsen Storm



 

born Sept. 14, 1817, Husum, Schleswig
died July 4, 1888, Hademarschen

poet and novelist whose novellas are among the finest in German literature. He is an outstanding representative of German poetic Realism, which had as its aim the portrayal of the positive values of everyday life. He took for his models the late Romantics and Eduard Mörike, who, along with Gottfried Keller, Paul von Heyse, and the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, was his friend and correspondent. Storm’s early lyrics (Gedichte, 1852; “Poems”) are songlike and characterized by their simplicity and beauty of form. Their main themes are love, nature, and an intense love of homeland.

Storm practiced law in Husum until 1853, when the Danish occupation of Schleswig forced him to move to Potsdam. His strong patriotic feelings are expressed in his poetry from this period. After living in Heiligenstadt, where he had been transferred as a magistrate, he returned to Schleswig when the Danish left it in 1864. A year later his wife died, occasioning the climax of his lyrics in the cycle Tiefe Schatten (1865). By this time, however, he had already begun to concentrate on writing novellas. One of his most important early works is Immensee (1850; Eng. trans., 1863), a moving story of the vanished happiness of childhood, which, like so many of his works, is coloured by a haunting nostalgia. As his writing matured his novellas displayed subtler psychological insight, greater realism, and a wider scope of themes—including class tensions, social problems, and religious bigotry—expressing his recurrent concern with man’s isolation and struggle with his fate. He retired in 1880 to Hadermarschen, where he wrote his last and greatest novella, Der Schimmelreiter (1888; The Rider on the White Horse, 1917), which, with its forceful hero and terse, objective style, shows vivid imagination and great narrative verve. Among his other major works are the charming story Pole Poppenspäler (1874), the historical novella Aquis submersus (1875), and the novella Im Schloss (1861).
 




Theodor Fontane

While some German novelists, for example Gustav Freytag in his novel about North German merchants, Soll und Haben (1855; Debit and Credit), did heed the economic circumstances of social development, German realism was not greatly concerned with this central theme of European realism. The novels of Theodor Fontane, however, owe much to
Sir Walter Scott’s extensive use of conversation as a way of moving narrative forward and Gustave Flauberts methods of enabling the reader to enter the minds of his characters. Fontane’s novels of Berlin life—Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888; Entanglements), Frau Jenny Treibel (1892; Eng. trans. Jenny Treibel), and Effi Briest (1895; Eng. trans. Effi Briest)—are dazzling examples of social criticism and psychological observation. The tension between modern marriage and public life is depicted with a fine sense of irony. In Effi Briest, for example, a young woman who has imagined that marriage will fulfill her social ambitions is frustrated when she discovers that her husband, a Prussian official who is part of Otto von Bismarck’s inner circle, is constantly drawn away from domestic life by his political duties. Like the Bourgeois Realists, Fontane also depends on close description of detail and repeated images that acquire the significance of a leitmotiv; like the Bourgeois Realists, too, he imbues his works with a poignant sense of resignation in the face of forces too vast to counteract. A famous phrase in Effi Briest, repeatedly uttered by the heroine’s father—“Das ist ein zu weites Feld” (“That is too big a subject”)—epitomizes this spirit of capitulation. Der Stechlin (published posthumously in 1899; The Stechlin), the great novel of Fontane’s old age, mourns the decline of the aristocracy through the lens of a narrative about a single family that bears the same name as a lake. The continued existence of nature (i.e., the lake) is seen as a consolation for the prospect of the family’s demise. At the same time, Fontane’s novels also criticize excessive conservatism, as in the complex discussion in Effi Briest, a novel about adultery, as to whether the wronged husband is obliged by the code of honour of his class to challenge his rival to a duel even though considerable time has elapsed between the adulterous affair and its discovery. Similarly, in several of his novels Fontane criticizes the conservative restrictions on women’s education, which he condemns as superficial, riddled with gaps, and fraught with superstition.
 


Gustav Freytag



 

born July 13, 1816, Kreuzburg, Silesia, Prussia
died April 30, 1895, Wiesbaden, Ger.


German writer of realistic novels celebrating the merits of the middle classes.

After studying philology at Breslau and Berlin, Freytag became Privatdozent (lecturer) in German literature at the University of Breslau (1839), but he resigned after eight years to devote himself to writing. He was much excited by the revolutions of 1848 and became, with Julian Schmidt, joint editor of the Leipzig weekly Die Grenzboten, which he made into the leading organ of the middle-class liberals. He abhorred both the democratic radicalism of the Jungdeutschen (“Young Germany”) and the escapism of the Romantics. From 1867 to 1870 he represented the national liberal party in the North German Reichstag, and he served at the headquarters of the 3rd Army in the Franco-German War until the battle of Sedan (1870).

His literary work was influenced by his early reading of English novelists, especially Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens, and of French plays. His name was made with the comedy Die Journalisten (1854; The Journalists), still regarded as one of the most successful German comedies, and he acquired an international reputation with his widely translated novel Soll und Haben (1855; Debit and Credit, 1857). It celebrates the solid bourgeois qualities of the German merchants, and the close relationships between people’s characters and the work they do is well brought out. The success of the novel was such that its author was recognized as the leading German writer of his day. He attempted to realize a similar intention with Die verlorene Handschrift (1864; The Lost Manuscript, 1865), which depicts Leipzig university life in the same realistic manner, but the plot is much weaker and the effect less successful. His most ambitious literary work was the novel-cycle Die Ahnen, 6 vol. (1873–81) which unfolded the story of a German family from the 4th century ad up to Freytag’s own time. His Bilder aus der deutschen Vergangenheit, 5 vol. (1859–67; partial Eng. trans. Pictures of German Life, 1862–63) were originally contributed to Die Grenzboten and give a vivid and popular account of the history of the Germans, in which Freytag stresses the idea of folk character as determinative in history. His collected works, Gesammelte Werke, 22 vol. (1886–88) were reissued, edited by H.M. Elster (12 vol.) in 1926.
 

 

 


Theodor Fontane


born Dec. 30, 1819, Neuruppin, Brandenburg
died Sept. 20, 1898, Berlin

writer who is considered the first master of modern realistic fiction in Germany.

He began his literary career in 1848 as a journalist, serving for several years in England as correspondent for two Prussian newspapers. From this position he wrote several books on English life, including Ein Sommer in London (1854; “A Summer in London”) and Jenseits des Tweed (1860; Across the Tweed: A Tour of Mid-Victorian Scotland). From 1860 to 1870 he wrote for the conservative newspaper Kreuzzeitung, and between 1862 and 1882 he published a four-volume account of his travels in the March of Brandenburg. He combined historical and anecdotal material with descriptions of the Prussian landscape and the seats of historic families. He also wrote popular ballads, Männer und Helden (1850; “Men and Heroes”) and Balladen (1861; “Ballads”), stirring celebrations of heroic and dramatic events, some drawn from Prussian history.

Fontane produced his best work after he became the drama critic for the liberal newspaper Vossische Zeitung and was freed from the earlier conservative restraint. Turning to the novel late in life, he wrote, at the age of 56, Vor dem Sturm (1878; Before the Storm), considered to be a masterpiece in the genre of the historical novel. He portrayed the Prussian nobility both critically and sympathetically. His aim was, as he said, “the undistorted reflection of the life we lead.” In several of his novels Fontane also deals with the problem of women’s role in domestic life; L’Adultera (1882; The Woman Taken in Adultery), Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888; Delusions, Confusions), Frau Jenny Treibel (1893), and Effi Briest (1895) are among his best. Effi Briest, in particular, is known for its superb characterization and the skillful portrayal of the milieu of Fontane’s native Brandenburg. His other major works are Der Stechlin (1899), which is noted for its charming style, and Schach von Wuthenow (1883; A Man of Honor), in which he portrays the weaknesses of the Prussian upper class.
 




19th-century drama


The tendency toward slowly unfolding plot that characterizes much 19th-century German literature was not especially conducive to the development of drama. Nonetheless, at least three dramatists from the period have found a place in the literary canon. Reacting against Weimar Classicism and aspiring to accede to the position that had been occupied by
Goethe and Schiller, these playwrights of the 1820s to ’50s experimented with historical drama based variously on Greek, biblical, or German themes. The patriotic drama König Ottokars Glück und Ende (1825; King Ottocar: His Rise and Fall), by Franz Grillparzer, and Napoleon; oder, die hundert Tage (1831; “Napoleon; or, The Hundred Days”), by Christian Dietrich Grabbe, are examples of this genre. These works can be seen as precursors of an entire series of 20th-century history plays, beginning with those of Bertolt Brecht, in which political and social issues are explored through displacement into an earlier historical period. Continuing a tradition established largely by Lessing, the third important 19th-century dramatist is Christian Friedrich Hebbel, who wrote, among other plays, a bourgeois tragedy, Maria Magdalena (1844).
 


Franz Grillparzer


born Jan. 15, 1791, Vienna [Austria]
died Jan. 21, 1872, Vienna


Austrian dramatist who wrote tragedies that were belatedly recognized as the greatest works of the Austrian stage.

Grillparzer’s father was a lawyer who died in debt in 1809; his markedly neurotic mother committed suicide 10 years later. Grillparzer studied law at the University of Vienna and spent much of his life in government service. Beginning in 1814 as a clerk in the department of revenue, he became a clerk in the treasury (1818) and later director of the treasury archives. His hopes for a higher position were never fulfilled, however, and he retired from government service in 1856.

In 1817 the first performance of Grillparzer’s tragedy Die Ahnfrau (The Ancestress) evoked public interest. Previously he had written a play in blank verse, Blanka von Castilien (Blanche of Castile), that already embodied the principal idea of several later works—the contrast between a quiet, idyllic existence and a life of action. Die Ahnfrau, written in the trochaic Spanish verse form, has many of the outward features of the then-popular “fate tragedy” (Schicksalsdrama), but the characters are themselves ultimately responsible for their own destruction. A striking advance was the swiftly written tragedy Sappho (1818). Here the tragic fate of Sappho, who is depicted as heterosexual, is attributed to her unhappy love for an ordinary man and to her inability to reconcile life and art, clearly an enduring problem for Grillparzer. Work on the trilogy Das Goldene Vlies (1821; The Golden Fleece) was interrupted by the suicide of Grillparzer’s mother and by illness. This drama, with Medea’s assertion that life is not worth living, is the most pessimistic of his works and offers humanity little hope. Once more the conflict between a life of meditation and one of action seems to lead inevitably to renunciation or despair.

More satisfying, both aesthetically and emotionally, is the historical tragedy König Ottokars Glück und Ende (written 1823, but because of censorship difficulties not performed or published until 1825; King Ottocar, His Rise and Fall). Here the action is drawn from Austrian history, and the rise of Rudolph of Habsburg (the first of Grillparzer’s characters to avoid guilt and tragedy) is contrasted with the fall of the tyrant Ottokar of Bohemia, so that Ottokar’s fate is not presented as representative of all humanity. Grillparzer was disappointed at the reception given to this and a following play and became discouraged by the objections of the censor. Although he loved Katharina Fröhlich (1800–79), whom he had met in the winter of 1820–21, he felt unable to marry, possibly because of a conviction that as an artist he had no right to personal happiness. His misery during these years is reflected not only in his diaries but also in the impressive cycle of poems entitled Tristia ex Ponto (1835).

Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen (1831; The Waves of Sea and Love), often judged to be Grillparzer’s greatest tragedy because of the degree of harmony achieved between content and form, marks a return to the classical theme in treating the story of Hero and Leander, which is, however, interpreted with a psychological insight anticipating the plays of Ibsen. Hero, the priestess, who lacks a true sense of vocation, forgets her vows in her blind passion for Leander and, when her lover is ensnared to his death, she dies of a broken heart. The following of vital instincts is shown to rob the individual of inner harmony and self-possession. Der Traum ein Leben (1834; A Dream Is Life) owes much to Grillparzer’s intensive and prolonged studies of Spanish drama. This Austrian Faust ends happily, for the ambitious young peasant Rustan only dreams the adventures that involve him in crime and awakes to a realization of the vanity of earthly aspirations. Grillparzer’s only comedy, Weh dem, der lügt! (1838; “Woe to Him Who Lies!”), was a failure with the public, chiefly because the theme—the hero succeeds because he tells the truth when everyone thinks he is lying—was too subtle and too serious for comic treatment.

Grillparzer wrote no more for the stage and very little at all after the 1840s. The honours that were heaped on him in old age came too late. In 1861 he was elected to Vienna’s upper legislative house (Herrenhaus), his 80th birthday was the occasion for a national celebration, and his death in Vienna in 1872 was widely mourned. Three tragedies, apparently complete, were found among his papers. Die Jüdin von Toledo (The Jewess of Toledo), based on a Spanish theme, portrays the tragic infatuation of a king for a young Jewish woman. He is only brought back to a sense of his responsibilities after she has been killed at the queen’s command. Ein Bruderzwist in Habsburg (Family Strife in Hapsburg), a profound and moving historical tragedy, lacks the theatrical action that would make it successful in performance and is chiefly remarkable for the portrayal of the emperor Rudolph II. Much of Grillparzer’s most mature thought forms the basis of the third play, Libussa, in which he foresees human development beyond the rationalist stage of civilization.

Apart from his critical studies on Spanish drama and a posthumous autobiography, Grillparzer’s finest prose work is Der arme Spielmann (1848), the story of a poor musician who cheerfully accepts life’s failures and dies through his efforts to help others.

Grillparzer’s work looks back to the great Classical and Romantic achievements and the painful evolution from the disillusionment of idealism to a compromise with reality. Grillparzer was unusually gifted not only as a dramatic poet but also as a playwright capable of creating dramas suitable for performance. Unlike his great predecessors, Goethe and Schiller, he distinguishes between the speech of the cultured person and that of the uneducated. He also introduces colloquialisms, humour, and elements from the popular farce. Although the central dramatic conflict of Grillparzer’s plays is often rooted in his personal problems, it is presented objectively. Grillparzer’s solution is renunciation rather than acceptance. He undoubtedly suffered from the censorship and repression imposed by the Metternich regime, but it is probable that his unhappiness originated principally in an inability to resolve his own difficulties of character.
 

 

 


Christian Dietrich Grabbe



 

born Dec. 11, 1801, Detmold, Westphalia
died Sept. 12, 1836, Detmold


German dramatist whose plays anticipated Expressionism and film technique.

Grabbe studied law in Leipzig (1820–22) and made unsuccessful attempts at acting and directing in Berlin. After quarrelling with the poet Heinrich Heine and members of Young Germany (a politically radical literary movement) and failing in attempts to get help from the Romantic writer Ludwig Tieck, he became a solicitor and then a military justiciary in Detmold. He was unhappily married in 1833 and was fired from his job in 1834 for negligence. After several months of poverty in Frankfurt, he went to Düsseldorf, where he lived as a freelance writer with the help of Karl Leberecht Immermann, with whom he later quarrelled also. Although he had been successful in finding publishers for his plays, his dissipated life led to an early death from alcoholism and tuberculosis.

Grabbe’s most important poetic work, Napoleon; oder, die hundert Tage (1831; “Napoleon; or, The Hundred Days”), exemplifies the boldly experimental form of his plays, in which he avoided continuous action by the use of a series of vividly depicted and contrasting scenes. His tragedy Don Juan und Faust (1829) is an imaginative and daring attempt to combine the two great works of Mozart and Goethe. Like many of his plays, it exceeded the practical demands of the theatre. Among his most enduring is the mordant satire Scherz, Satire, Ironie, und tiefere Bedeutung (1827; Comedy, Satire, Irony, and Deeper Meaning). He is also known for Abhandlung über die Shakespearo-Manie (1827; “Essay on Shakespeare Mania”), in which he attacks Shakespeare and advocates an independent national drama. His other major works are the tragedy Herzog Theodor von Gothland (1827; “Duke Theodor of Gothland”), noted for its scenes of violence; and two plays about Hohenstaufen rulers, Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa (1829) and Kaiser Heinrich VI (1830).
 

 

 


Christian Friedrich Hebbel



 

born March 18, 1813, Wesselburen, Schleswig-Holstein
died Dec. 13, 1863, Vienna


poet and dramatist who added a new psychological dimension to German drama and made use of G.W.F. Hegel’s concepts of history to dramatize conflicts in his historical tragedies. He was concerned not so much with the individual aspects of the characters or events as with the historical process of change as it led to new moral values.

Hebbel was the son of a poor mason and was brought up in poverty. After his father’s death in 1827, he spent seven years as a clerk and messenger to a tyrannical parish bailiff. He founded a literary circle and had his first poems published in a local newspaper and in a Hamburg fashion magazine, whose editor, Amalie Schoppe, invited him to Hamburg in 1835 to prepare for the university. He was supported during this time, both spiritually and materially, by a seamstress, Elise Lensing, with whom he lived. At this time he started his Tagebücher (published 1885–87; “Diaries”), which became an important and revealing literary confession. Provided with a small income from his patrons, he went to Heidelberg to study law but soon left for Munich to devote himself to philosophy, history, and literature. Unable to publish his poems, however, he returned penniless and ill to Hamburg, where he was nursed by Elise Lensing.

Hebbel’s powerful prose play Judith, based on the biblical story, brought him fame in 1840 upon its performance in Hamburg and Berlin. His poetic drama Genoveva was finished in 1841. Still in need of money, Hebbel received a grant from the Danish king to spend a year in Paris and one in Italy. While in Paris in 1843 he wrote most of the realistic tragedy Maria Magdalena, published with a critical and philosophical preface in 1844 and performed in 1846. This skillfully constructed play, technically a model “tragedy of common life,” is a striking portrayal of the middle class.

In 1845 he met the actress Christine Enghaus, whom he married in 1846. His life became more tranquil, although he was permanently weakened by rheumatic fever as a result of his earlier privation. The first tragedy written in this period of his life was the verse play Herodes und Mariamne (published 1850, performed 1849). A later work, the Die Nibelungen trilogy (1862)—including Der gehörnte Siegfried (“The Invulnerable Siegfried”), Siegfrieds Tod (“Siegfried’s Death”), and Kriemhilds Rache (“Kriemhild’s Revenge”)—grandiosely pictures the clash between heathen and Christian. The prose tragedy Agnes Bernauer (1852) treats the conflict between the necessities of the state and the rights of the individual. Gyges und sein Ring (1854; Gyges and His Ring), probably his most mature and subtle work, shows Hebbel’s predilection for involved psychological problems. His other works include two comedies, a volume of novellas and stories, collections of poems, and essays in literary criticism. On his 50th birthday, nine months before he died, he received the Schiller Prize.
 





Naturalism

In the last two decades of the 19th century, the influence of French realists and naturalists such as
Flaubert, Honoré Balzac, Guy de Maupassant, and Émile Zola gave rise to a new concern for social problems, the life of the lower classes, and the driven nature of the human psyche. The two main centres of the German naturalist movement were Munich and Berlin, where its programmatic declarations were published in small periodicals. The Freie Bühne (“Free Stage”) in Berlin became the arena for new controversial plays presented only to private audiences in order to escape censorship. Arno Holz and Johannes Schlaf published three prose sketches under the title Papa Hamlet (1889), in which the characters’ actions are captured in minute, realistic detail. The technique was known as Sekundenstil (“second-by-second style”). The novella Bahnwärter Thiel (1888; Lineman Thiel), by Gerhart Hauptmann, explores the psychology of a railway-crossing guard who is driven to insanity and ultimately to murder by the death of his young son. Hauptmann’s dramas, most notably his play about the Silesian weavers and their futile rebellion, Die Weber (1892; The Weavers), with its emphasis on lower-class figures and their struggle for bare existence, are the best examples of the deterministic views of German naturalism. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912.
 


Gerhart Hauptmann



 

in full Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann

born Nov. 15, 1862, Bad Salzbrunn, Silesia, Prussia [Germany]
died June 6, 1946, Agnetendorf, Ger. [now Jagniątków, Pol.]


German playwright, poet, and novelist who was a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912.

Hauptmann was born in a then-fashionable Silesian resort town, where his father owned the main hotel. He studied sculpture from 1880 to 1882 at the Breslau Art Institute and then studied science and philosophy at the university in Jena (1882–83). He worked as a sculptor in Rome (1883–84) and studied further in Berlin (1884–85). It was at this time that he decided to make his career as a poet and dramatist. Having married the well-to-do Marie Thienemann in 1885, Hauptmann settled down in Erkner, a suburb of Berlin, taking lessons in acting and associating with a group of scientists, philosophers, and avant-garde writers who were interested in naturalist and socialist ideas. Hauptmann began writing novellas, most notably Fasching (1887; “Carnival”), but his membership in the literary club Durch (“Through”) and his reading of the works of such writers as Émile Zola and Ivan Turgenev led him to start writing plays.

In October 1889 the performance of Hauptmann’s social drama Vor Sonnenaufgang (Before Dawn) made him famous overnight, though it shocked the theatregoing public. This starkly realistic tragedy, dealing with contemporary social problems, signaled the end of the rhetorical and highly stylized German drama of the 19th century. Encouraged by the controversy, Hauptmann wrote in rapid succession a number of outstanding dramas on naturalistic themes (heredity, the plight of the poor, the clash of personal needs with societal restrictions) in which he artistically reproduced social reality and common speech. Most gripping and humane, as well as most objectionable to the political authorities at the time of its publication, is Die Weber (1892; The Weavers), a compassionate dramatization of the Silesian weavers’ revolt of 1844. Das Friedensfest (1890; “The Peace Festival”) is an analysis of the troubled relations within a neurotic family, while Einsame Menschen (1891; Lonely Lives) describes the tragic end of an unhappy intellectual torn between his wife and a young woman (patterned after the writer Lou Andreas-Salomé) with whom he can share his thoughts.

Hauptmann resumed his treatment of proletarian tragedy with Fuhrmann Henschel (1898; Drayman Henschel), a claustrophobic study of a workman’s personal deterioration from the stresses of his domestic life. However, critics felt that the playwright had abandoned naturalistic tenets in Hanneles Himmelfahrt (1894; The Assumption of Hannele), a poetic evocation of the dreams an abused workhouse girl has shortly before she dies. Der Biberpelz (1893; The Beaver Coat) is a successful comedy, written in a Berlin dialect, that centres on a cunning female thief and her successful confrontation with pompous, stupid Prussian officials.

Hauptmann’s longtime estrangement from his wife resulted in their divorce in 1904, and in the same year he married the violinist Margarete Marschalk, with whom he had moved in 1901 to a house in Agnetendorf in Silesia. Hauptmann spent the rest of his life there, though he traveled frequently.

Although Hauptmann helped to establish naturalism in Germany, he later abandoned naturalistic principles in his plays. In his later plays, fairy-tale and saga elements mingle with mystical religiosity and mythical symbolism. The portrayal of the primordial forces of the human personality in a historical setting (Kaiser Karls Geisel, 1908; Charlemagne’s Hostage) stands beside naturalistic studies of the destinies of contemporary people (Dorothea Angermann, 1926). The culmination of the final phase in Hauptmann’s dramatic work is the Atrides cycle, Die Atriden-Tetralogie (1941–48), which expresses through tragic Greek myths Hauptmann’s horror of the cruelty of his own time.

Hauptmann’s stories, novels, and epic poems are as varied as his dramatic works and are often thematically interwoven with them. The novel Der Narr in Christo, Emanuel Quint (1910; The Fool in Christ, Emanuel Quint) depicts, in a modern parallel to the life of Christ, the passion of a Silesian carpenter’s son, possessed by pietistic ecstasy. A contrasted figure is the apostate priest in his most famous story, Der Ketzer von Soana (1918; The Heretic of Soana), who surrenders himself to a pagan cult of Eros.

In his early career Hauptmann found sustained effort difficult; later his literary production became more prolific, but it also became more uneven in quality. For example, the ambitious and visionary epic poems Till Eulenspiegel (1928) and Der grosse Traum (1942; “The Great Dream”) successfully synthesize his scholarly pursuits with his philosophical and religious thinking, but are of uncertain literary value. The cosmological speculations of Hauptmann’s later decades distracted him from his spontaneous talent for creating characters that come alive on the stage and in the imagination of the reader. Nevertheless, Hauptmann’s literary reputation in Germany was unequaled until the ascendancy of Nazism, when he was barely tolerated by the regime and at the same time was denounced by émigrés for staying in Germany. Though privately out of tune with the Nazi ideology, he was politically naive and tended to be indecisive. He remained in Germany throughout World War II and died a year after his Silesian environs had been occupied by the Soviet Red Army.

Hauptmann was the most prominent German dramatist of the early 20th century. The unifying element of his vast and varied literary output is his sympathetic concern for human suffering, as expressed through characters who are generally passive victims of social and other elementary forces. His plays, the early naturalistic ones especially, are still frequently performed.
 

 

 
 
 
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy