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Types of Weltschmerz in German Poetry   By: (1873-)

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First Page:

TYPES OF WELTSCHMERZ IN GERMAN POETRY

BY

WILHELM ALFRED BRAUN, Ph.D.

SOMETIME FELLOW IN GERMANIC LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

AMS PRESS, INC. NEW YORK 1966

Copyright 1905, Columbia University Press, New York

Reprinted with the permission of the Original Publisher, 1966

AMS PRESS, INC. New York, N.Y. 10003 1966

Manufactured in the United States of America

NOTE

The author of this essay has attempted to make, as he himself phrases it, "a modest contribution to the natural history of Weltschmerz." What goes by that name is no doubt somewhat elusive; one can not easily delimit and characterize it with scientific accuracy. Nevertheless the word corresponds to a fairly definite range of psychical reactions which are of great interest in modern poetry, especially German poetry. The phenomenon is worth studying in detail. In undertaking a study of it Mr. Braun thought, and I readily concurred in the opinion, that he would do best not to essay an exhaustive history, but to select certain conspicuously interesting types and proceed by the method of close analysis, characterization and comparison. I consider his work a valuable contribution to literary scholarship.

CALVIN THOMAS.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, June, 1905

PREFACE

The work which is presented in the following pages is intended to be a modest contribution to the natural history of Weltschmerz.

The writer has endeavored first of all to define carefully the distinction between pessimism and Weltschmerz; then to classify the latter, both as to its origin and its forms of expression, and to indicate briefly its relation to mental pathology and to contemporary social and political conditions. The three poets selected for discussion, were chosen because they represent distinct types, under which probably all other poets of Weltschmerz may be classified, or to which they will at least be found analogous; and to the extent to which such is the case, the treatise may be regarded as exhaustive. In the case of each author treated, the development of the peculiar phase of Weltschmerz characteristic of him has been traced, and analyzed with reference to its various modes of expression. Hölderlin is the idealist, Lenau exhibits the profoundly pathetic side of Weltschmerz, while Heine is its satirist. They have been considered in this order, because they represent three progressive stages of Weltschmerz viewed as a psychological process: Hölderlin naïve, Lenau self conscious, Heine endeavoring to conceal his melancholy beneath the disguise of self irony.

It is a pleasure to tender my grateful acknowledgments to my former Professors, Calvin Thomas and William H. Carpenter of Columbia University, and Camillo von Klenze and Starr Willard Cutting of the University of Chicago, under whose stimulating direction and never failing assistance my graduate studies were carried on.

CONTENTS

Chapter I Introduction 1

Chapter II Hölderlin 9

Chapter III Lenau 35

Chapter IV Heine 59

Chapter V Bibliography 85

CHAPTER I

=Introduction=

The purpose of the following study is to examine closely certain German authors of modern times, whose lives and writings exemplify in an unusually striking degree that peculiar phase of lyric feeling which has characterized German literature, often in a more or less epidemic form, since the days of "Werther," and to which, at an early period in the nineteenth century, was assigned the significant name "Weltschmerz."

With this side of the poet under investigation, there must of necessity be an enquiry, not only into his writings, his expressed feelings, but also his physical and mental constitution on the one hand, and into his theory of existence in general on the other. Psychology and philosophy then are the two adjacent fields into which it may become necessary to pursue the subject in hand, and for this reason it is only fair to call attention to the difficulties which surround the student of literature in discussing philosophical ideas or psychological phenomena... Continue reading book >>




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