Novalis  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"The others experienced nothing like it
even though they heard the same tales." --Heinrich von Ofterdingen


"It is rather astonishing that the association of lust, religion and cruelty during all these years has not caused mankind to pay more attention to the intimate character of their relationship and to their common aims." (Es ist sonderbar, daß nicht längst die Assoziation von Wollust, Religion und Grausamkeit die Menschen aufmerksam auf ihre innige Verwandtschaft und ihre gemeinschaftliche Tendenz gemacht hat.) --Novalis


"It is strange," says Novalis, "that the real ground of cruelty is lust." (Sonderbar, daß der eigentliche Grund der Grausamkeit Wollust ist) --Novalis

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (May 2, 1772 - March 25, 1801), an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism, best-known for his novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen.

Contents

Influence

Walter Pater includes Novalis's quote, "Philosophirn ist delphlegmatisiren, vivificiren" (to philosophize is to throw off apathy, to become revived)1 in his conclusion to Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Novalis' poetry and writings were also an influence on Hermann Hesse; Hesse initially published his novel Demian under the name Emil Sinclair, who was a friend of Novalis.

Novalis was also a huge influence on George MacDonald, and so indirectly on C.S. Lewis, the Inklings, and the whole modern fantasy genre.

Writing

Novalis, who was deeply read in science, law, philosophy, politics and political economy, started writing quite early. He left an abundance of notes on these fields and his early work displays his ease and familiarity with them. His later works are closely connected to his studies and his profession. Novalis collected everything that he had learned, reflected upon it and drew connections in the sense of an encyclopaedic overview on art, religion and science. These notes from the years 1798 and 1799 are called Das allgemeine Brouillon, and are now available in English under the title Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia. Together with Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis developed the fragment as a literary form of art. The core of Hardenberg’s literary works is the quest for the connection of science and poetry, and the result was supposed to be a "progressive universal poesy” (fragment no. 116 of the Athenaum journal). Novalis was convinced that philosophy and the higher-ranking poetry have to be continually related to each other.

The fact that the romantic fragment is an appropriate form for a depiction of "progressive universal poesy”, can be seen especially from the success of this new genre in its later reception.

Novalis' whole works are based upon an idea of education: "We are on a mission: we are called upon to educate the earth." It has to be made clear that everything is in a continual process. It is the same with humanity, which forever strives towards and tries to recreate a new Golden Age – a paradisical Age of harmony between man and nature that was assumed to have existed in earlier times. This Age was described by Plato, Plotinus, and Franz Hemsterhuis, the last of whom was an extremely important figure for the German Romantics.

This idea of a romantic universal poesy can be seen clearly in the romantic triad. This theoretical structure always shows its recipient that the described moment is exactly the moment (kairos) in which the future is decided. These frequently mentioned critical points correspond with the artist’s feeling for the present, which Novalis shares with many other contemporaries of his time. Thus a triadic structure can be found in most of his works. This means that there are three corresponding structural elements which are written differently concerning the content and the form.

Hardenberg’s intensive study of the works of Jakob Böhme, from 1800, had a clear influence on his own writing.

A mystical world view, a high standard of education, and the frequently perceptible pietistic influences are combined in Novalis' attempt to reach a new concept of Christianity, faith, and God. He forever endeavours to align these with his own view of transcendental philosophy, which acquired the mysterious name "Magical idealism". Magical idealism draws heavily from the critical or transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant and J. G. Fichte (the earliest form of German idealism), and incorporates the artistic element central to Early German Romanticism. The subject must strive to conform the external, natural world to its own will and genius; hence the term "magical". David Krell calls magical idealism "thaumaturgic idealism." This view can even be discerned in more religious works such as the Spiritual Songs (published 1802), which soon became incorporated into Lutheran hymn-books.

Novalis influenced, among others, the novelist and theologian George MacDonald, who translated his 'Hymns to the Night' in 1897. More recently, Novalis, as well as the Early Romanticism (Frühromantik) movement as a whole, has been recognized as constituting a separate philosophical school, as opposed to simply a literary movement. Recognition of the distinctness of Frühromantik philosophy is owed in large part, in the English speaking world at least, to the writer Frederick Beiser.

Poetry

In August 1800, eight months after completion, the revised edition of the Hymnen an die Nacht was published in the Athenaeum. They are often considered to be the climax of Novalis’ lyrical works and the most important poetry of the German early Romanticism.

The topic is the romantic interpretation of life and death, the threshold of which is symbolised by the night. Life and death are – according to Novalis – developed into entwined concepts. So in the end, death is the romantic principle of life.

Influences from the literature of that time can be seen. The metaphors of the hymns are closely connected to the books Novalis had read at about the time of his writing of the hymns. These are prominently Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (in the translation by A.W. Schlegel, 1797) and Jean Paul’s Unsichtbare Loge (1793).

The Hymns to the Night display a universal religion with an intermediary. This concept is based on the idea that there is always a third party between a human and God. This intermediary can either be Jesus – as in Christian lore – or the dead beloved as in the hymns. These works consist of three times two hymns. These three components are each structured in this way: the first hymn shows, with the help of the Romantic triad, the development from an assumed happy life on earth through a painful era of alienation to salvation in the eternal night; the following hymn tells of the awakening from this vision and the longing for a return to it. With each pair of hymns, a higher level of experience and knowledge is shown.

Prose

The novel fragments Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Die Lehrlinge zu Sais (The Novices of Sais) reflect the idea of describing a universal world harmony with the help of poetry. The novel 'Heinrich von Ofterdingen' contains the "blue flower", a symbol that became an emblem for the whole of German Romanticism. Originally the novel was supposed to be an answer to Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, a work that Novalis had read with enthusiasm but later on judged as being highly unpoetical. He disliked the victory of the economical over the poetic.

The speech called Die Christenheit oder Europa was written in 1799, but was first published in 1826. It is a poetical, cultural-historical speech with a focus on a political utopia with regard to the Middle Ages. In this text Novalis tries to develop a new Europe which is based on a new poetical Christendom which shall lead to unity and freedom. He got the inspiration for this text from Schleiermacher’s Über die Religion (1799). The work was also a response to the French Enlightenment and Revolution, both of which Novalis saw as catastrophic and irreligious. It anticipated, then, the growing German and Romantic theme of anti-Enlightenment visions of European spirituality and order.

Novalis in print

Novalis' works were originally issued in two volumes by his friends Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Schlegel (2 vols. 1802; a third volume was added in 1846).

Editions of Novalis' collected works have since been compiled by C. Meisner and Bruno Wille (1898), by E. Heilborn (3 vols., 1901), and by J. Minor (3 vols., 1907). Heinrich von Ofterdingen was published separately by J. Schmidt in 1876.

Novalis's Correspondence was edited by J. M. Raich in 1880. See R. Haym Die romantische Schule (Berlin, 1870); A. Schubart, Novalis' Leben, Dichten und Denken (1887); C. Busse, Novalis' Lyrik (1898); J. Bing, Friedrich von Hardenberg (Hamburg, 1899), E. Heilborn, Friedrich von Hardenberg (Berlin, 1901).

Novalis in English

Several of Novalis' philosophical works have been recently translated into English.

  • Novalis: Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia (Das Allgemeine Brouillon), trans. and ed. David W. Wood, State University of New York Press, 2007. First English translation of Novalis´s unfinished project for a universal science.
  • The Birth of Novalis: Friedrich von Hardenberg's Journal of 1797, With Selected Letters and Documents, trans. and ed. Bruce Donehower, State University of New York Press, 2007.
  • Novalis: Philosophical Writings, trans. and ed. Margaret Mahoney Stoljar, State University of New York Press, 1997. This volume contains several of Novalis' works, including Pollen or Miscellaneous Observations, one of the few complete works published in his lifetime (though it was altered for publication by Friedrich Schlegel); Logological Fragments I and II; Monologue, a long fragment on language; Faith and Love or The King and Queen, a collection of political fragments also published during his lifetime; On Goethe; extracts from Das allgemeine Broullion or General Draft; and his essay Christendom or Europe. '
  • Fichte Studies, trans. Jane Kneller, Cambridge University Press: 2003. This translation is part of the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy Series.
  • Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics, ed. Jay Bernstein, Cambridge University Press, 2003. This book is in the same series, the Fichte-Studies and contains a very good selection of fragments, plus it includes Novalis' Dialogues. Also in this collection are fragments by Schlegel and Hölderlin.
  • Henry von Ofterdingen, trans. Palmer Hilty, Waveland Press: 1990.
  • The Novices of Sais, trans. by Ralph Manheim, Archipelago Books: 2005. This translation was originally published in 1949. This edition includes illustrations by Paul Klee. The Novices of Sais contains the fairy tale "Hyacinth and Rose Petal."


Secondary literature

  • The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Behler, Ernst. German Romantic Literary Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Beiser, Frederick. German Idealism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002
  • Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Blue Flower. Mariner Books, 1997. A novelization of Novalis' early life.
  • Krell, David Farrell. Contagion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
  • Kuzniar, Alice. Delayed Endings. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1987
  • Lacoue-Labarthe, Phillipe and Jean-Luc Nancy. The Literary Absolute. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. (Note: This book does not discuss Novalis exclusively, but discusses the Early Romantic movement as a whole.)
  • Molnár, Geza von. Novalis' "Fichte Studies"
  • O’Brien, Wm. Arctander, Novalis: Signs of Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Novalis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools