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Besides being a reaction to the vogue of German literature, such criticism is indicative of a peculiarly Victorian phenomenon, nineteenth-century England has often been charged with undue complacency 22 Blackwood 1 s , XXXl l , However one-sided this censure may he, it cannot he denied that it is in a considerable measure justified. In the fourth decade of the nineteenth century, there was a marked slackening of interest in German prose writing. An article on Tieck, from the year ; Is however significant.
Gutzkow to disseminate in Germany," he cannot deny that as a literary artist, Tieck is often "puerile and. It is really impossible gravely to go through the detail of rubbish such as this, which, if meant to be ludicrous, is certainly the most tragic - 72 mirth we were ever doomed to peruse. In an article entitled "Discourse on Goethe and the German," he ridicudes those "blockheads, male and female, who know nothing of Oh the subject, and take all that the Germans themselves advance for gospel.
The literature, he says, began with Gottsched, "the weakest of mortals, the poorest of versifiers, the most miserable of pedants;" followed by Wieland, KLopstock, Gessner, Gellert, Rabener— "pretty men for a nation to be proud ofl" North sees the reason for the extravagantly high opinion, which the Germans have formed of their literature, in the "profundity of the abyss they were sunk in before it made its appearance. Then shone ICLopstock, Lessing, Schiller, Goethe forming—as seen from that subterranean level—a whole planetary system. First he turns against the inordinate length of German narratives.
Ho one I" Then, he directs his strictures against the immorality of German fiction. Forth is incapable of understanding how every human being, from about eighteen up to twenty-five, and some, even, who have come to years of discretion, have got into a perpetual sing-song of wonder and awe about the depth, grandeur, sublimity, and all the rest of it, of this inimitab3. Bid they ever think of extending their enumerations of its merits to include its profanity, coarseness, vulgarity, and unintelligibleness?
Hothing good can surely come of it, he feels, for "over all is spread such a dung-heap 2 " ibia. Scurrilous criticism of this kind can only be fully understood if it is regarded in the light of the social and religious background of the time. Simultaneously, a change in manners took place— from licence and gaiety to hypocricy or to virtue. As a, favourable soil for greater "seriousness" was thus being prepared, critics became increasingly alarmed at the more or less stea5. Warning voices, raised to guard against the dissemination of subversive ideas, are indicative of the general uneasiness felt in conservative centres.
The danger was heightened for them by the knowledge that English writers, influenced by German literature and thought, were helping to propagate these injurious ideas. The fact that German influence was preponderant, that German literature was very much "the fashion of the day," and that it was exerting a profound influence upon English men of letters, was confirmed in an article in l84l.
Its author declares that "we have a kind of in-dwelling Germanism at home, which is very powerful, and has many - 75 - names. Hone but a very Teutomaniac will maintain that German poetry. It is less masculine, less tasteful, less healthy, less rounded, less national than the Greek; no impartial person will even say, that, in respect of grace, vigour, and a well-rounded totality, it is not inferior to the Italian and to the French. This, the author admits, is notoriously difficult, for the style in which the German scholars choose to express their ideas, is well-neigh unread-able.
In mock despair, he cries out: It is too cloudy, too tearful, too shadowy, for the beef-eater. It wants brawn—ay brawn, and blood, and lustihood. Jean Paul still enjoyed a measure of success. This was primarily due to the fact that, although he was "a regular German of the Germans," his novels were not "made up of mere playful arabesques to amuse, of mere pepper and spices to stimulate," but were designed to edify and teach.
A novel by Jean Paul "is in fact a sermon an evangelic address, where the gospel is preached, as wit is vented in the old drama, oftentimes by a clown. A German in imagination; oh. The opinion expressed was that there was some justification for hope of a gradual revival after the political upheavals of the preceding years. And the following decade saw a review with extracts 32 of the Hibelungenlied , in a new translation by a Mr. Germany, it is declared there, "is the great European. She makes thoughts and theories for the world as Manchester does printed calicoes, and other nations wear them.
It was variously too "laborious," "obscure," and "grttndlich. The reviewer of J. This is verily no pastime to be taken up in a leisure hour, no pleasant meandering in the primrose path of fancy. Rather let the reader here regard himself as an Alpine climber, prepared to grapple with some sublime but uncompromising mountain- crests; let him gird up his loins, set his teeth, and brace himself for the effort, as step by step he prepares 36 Anon.
Blackwood 1 s , CIIl l , This accounts for the dearth of really great novelists in Germany: But Gerhard Hauptmann—"a young man who has but lately come to the front with a series of short realistic studies"—is considered as a writer of promise. Although his style is not exactly of the kind to "secure for him a wide circle of admirers," his power of characterization is unquestionable masterful.
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His BahnwSrter Thiel is hailed as a particularly happy creation. Two years later, his famous no veil, Schloss Hubertus , was praised for its "overpowering force and brilliancy. As the century was drawing to a close, however, more immediate political interests began to crowd purely literary matters into the background, until they disappeared completely. Throughout the century, Blackwood's criticism of German prose writing tended to vacillate between extreme praise and unjustified denunciation.
Much less than in the realm of poetry, it can be said that in the field of prose judgment was arbitrary and erratic. The really great German prose artists of the nineteenth century—KLeist, Stifter, Keller, Meyer, Raabe and Fontane—were not at all represented in the magazine, while writers of lesser stature were highly lauded, more often than not, for the wrong reasons.
Hot infrequently these works were discussed in conjunction with literature, or were used as the mere starting-point for a discourse about matters ranging from philosophy to literature and from theology to politics. The chief mediator in this field was Thomas de Quineey. De Quincey fully realized the importance of Lessing. Regarding philosophy, poetry, the arts and sciences, as productions of the mind, they have never imagined that the knowledge of one of these necessarily excluded that of any of the others.
But most of all, De Quincey declares, it is due to the fact that in a country that is essentially practical any speculative philosophy must necessarily fail. Kant should be studied, he concludes, despite-his "complexity. The opinions expressed 3 Schirmer, p. It was felt that Theology is too sacred ground for us to tread upon, farther than to refuse to be guided first into labyrinths, which are not to be found in the Bible, and then out of them, by such misty guides as Tholuck, Ferdinand Baur, and lleander.
As to Strauss and the other infidels, we name them not without disgust; for if fancy can conjure any image more revolting than another, it is that of a German Vo 3. The only figure to be treated with genuine admiration was Luther. Two articles, the first of which appeared as early as and the second six years later, make a, good attempt at assessing the importance of Luther in terms of the influence he has had on posterity. The author calls him "one of those instruments that Providence reserves to awake or restore the hopes of nations," and says that "the mind of Luther was matchJ.
Enthusiastic, bold, and contemptuous of all consequences to himself, he lived and breathed only for the cause of truth. This, the tone of their literature and of their music equally testifies Nothing was more natural than that, when the political censorship had forbidden men of active intellects to occupy themselves with the affairs of the present life, they should give themselves up with more undivided devotion to pry into the mysteries of futurity.
Great, and you will see clearly how German theology has risen to that Cyclopean vastness which we admire--is instinct with that transcendental magnetism, disturbing the ecclesiastical needle, which we fear. It is quite certain, that to be a profound, theologian now, a man must know German, as it is indubitable that a good knowledge of that language mil bring a man further, in most theological investigations, in a month, than could be managed without in a year.
The author, having detected, in the German writers a "convulsive effort This style of writing appears to a great number of people, who have never taken the trouble to analyze the nature of it, to require a very high degree of fane: But never was such a mistake committed. It is from a want of imagination and not from excess of it, that our neighbours have betaken themselves to their mysticism and magic, to the doub3.
It is particularly in the fields of scientific research, scholarship, and philosophy that these elements are most strikingly reflected, and that they exert the most corrosive influence. Philosophy and, above all, metaphysics whose sole aim is "to dazzle ,. Here is what he thinks of Kant: Let us not fall foul of Kant So irrepressible Is genius, that it cannot continue hidden even under the mummy—like endeavours to envelope It--like light in a tomb, it flashes out amid the most gloomy and.
Herder was undoubtedly a man of genius—he shows it in all his writings; but in them all there is no mistaking the great aim we have alluded to--to startle, to delight; but not to inform. There were, to he sure, less disparaging opinions on German philosophy. But not only were they less frequent, they were also less vociferously expressed. An article on the "Life of a Speculative German"--i. The author sets out by remarking on the lack of philosophical inquiry carried on in England, and asserts that the "vast revolution in philosophy, which from the time of Kant, has penetrated the whole framework of life and language in Germany, is totally non-existent in England.
But even here, there is a hint of that characteristic Victorian snobbishness. The author cannot resist observing how preposterous the Germans 1 preoccupation with phi3. Wo mention was made, for example, of such philosophers as Wichte, Schelling, Hegel, Wietzsche, and Schopenhauer, The reasons for this neglect are obvious. An essentially materialistic society that worshipped, what Carlyle called, "the Goddess of Getting-on," must have had very little patience with thinkers whose Weltanschauung was largely idealistic and pessimistic.
As, on the other hand, they will contribute to the completeness of the present study, it seems desirable to deal with them in some detail at this point.
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On the whole references to German art were much less favourable than those pertaining to music. Criticism of German painting tended, furthermore, to be less searching. Thus , in l8l8, reviewing an Art Exhibition in Augsburg, a contributor announces "with great pleasure.
The German painters, the author comments mockingly, "have sold themselves to the ancient and dead Italians.
The charge of unintelligibility, heaviness, and mysticism, so often levelled against German -prose writings and philosophy, was extended in i to the realm of German art. It also seems that much interest was A taken in this subject. Between and , for example, eight notices of publication of the works of Bach, Mozart, Ilaydn, and Beethoven appeared in the journal, and testify to the popularity of these composers.
An article "On Musical Expression," which was published in , was devoted almost in its entirety to the music of Beethoven. Eroadwood constitutes, the author declares, "a noble specimen of the admiration with which the genius of this great man is regarded in every part of the world. According to his opinion, Britain is on particularly friendly terms with the world of German music.
G 0 C 'vq O - Q1 in the section on German prose, conies to mind: There they excel—why or -wherefore I know not—hut music, though celestial, is sensuous rather than Intel- p lectual or moral, and is a mystery. For Mozart, however, the British public had nothing but the most sincere admiration.
In a review of The Life of Mozart, Including his Correspondence, by Edward Holmes, the critic presented a highly 9 favourable picture of the composer. After a short account of his life, the author—rather than giving an analysis of the composer 1 s music— loses himself in a disquisition on the nature of music and the salutory influence it may exert on the minds of people.
Music, he explains, must ennoble. The greatest composers have always known this: T " Haydn, likewise, "was a stranger to every evil and malignant passion; and, indeed, was not much under the influence of passion of any sort. Rather than seeing in him a great musician, the author admires his moral qualities. Save Beethoven, he is the greatest composer the world, has ever seen. The reason for the consistently high regard in which German music was held can probably be found in its affinity with religion.
One contributor, citing Handel, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, and. Beethoven as examples, holds that "music, above all the arts, has found in religion its loftiest inspiration. Although it could not be argued that political conditions are alone responsible for the fluctuations of literary interests, their importance in this respect is not to be underestimated. The two excerpts from the Anti-Jacobin Review , quoted in the Introduction, are revealing examples of the sway which the political, apprehensions and aspirations of a nation can exercise over her literary attitudes.
A few preliminary remarks, characterizing the political and social scene of Victorian England, will therefore not be out of place in this consideration of Blackwood's view of German literature and thought. The return of peace in , trade expansion, the establishment of new factories, higher wages--these are the factors which ushered in an era of unprecedented progress and prosperity.
The doctrines of the pursuit of happiness, which Jeremy Bentham had begun to propound earlier, started to bear practical fruit during the years between Waterloo and the Reform Bill. This, then, was the reading public to which the new magazines and periodicals catered. And it is essentially in the light of this society that the impact which German literature had on England in the nineteenth century must be viewed. As neither machine industry nor evangelical religion had any use for art or beauty, which were despised as effeminate by the practical-minded makers of the great factory towns, the voice of poetry--unless it was stridently didactic or intimidatingly moralizing-- had a difficult time making itself heard above the din of money-making.
The year marks with twenty-seven references the peak of the journal's interest in German literature. More than any other genre, it was the German fate tragedy which attracted attention in these years. The uncritical enthusiasm with which they were greeted is, on the one hand, a reflection of their popularity in Germany, and, on the other, an indication of the lack of dramatic production in England. The Romantic genius did not tend toward dramatic expression and a genuine need was felt, therefore, for this genre. This need was filled--at least temporarily--by the mediocre, melodramatic fate tragedies.
Poetry and prose, however, were also well represented during these years of lively interest. Although interest in narrative prose centered around tales of horror and mystery, various attempts were made to create an audience for critical and philosophic writings. Beginning in , an unmistakable reaction, such as follows any period of heightened activity, gradually set in. As a consequence of Carlyle's severe censure of the fate tragedians, their plays quickly fell into disfavour with the reading public, and the German drama ceased to occupy a central position in the magazine.
While the discontinuation, in , of the "Horae Germanicae" column effected a numerical decrease of references to the German drama, what criticism there was, tended to become progressively unfavourable. Charges of immorality, obscurity, mysticism, and verbosity predominated. John Wilson's scathing remarks about Faust in reflect the general tenor of Blackwood's dramatic criticism. German prose literature, however, fared even worse.
The note of disparagement, ranging from playful irony to the bitterest sarcasm, so frequently sounded in discussions of German prose in the fourth and fifth decades of the century, clearly indicates a counter movement to the vogue of things German. In order to point out how incommensurate the claims made by Germanophiles in favour of German literature were with its actual merits, reviewers resorted to comparisons of English and German literature.
In the forties, doubt was expressed concerning the superiority of German literature over that of France. Thus, an author observes in that "an outcry has been raised against the French authors and Although writers like Jean Paul were still being praised, German literature as a whole had fallen into disrepute. Indeed, articles were now almost apologetic for the earlier interest which had been shown in German literature, explaining it not in terms of its inherent merit but by the political association of Germany and England during the Napoleonic War.
Germany had been the first nation who honestly and zealously took our part against the enemy. The reaction against things German was on a broad front and included even German residents of London. In Blackwood's published a description of the Germans in London. But the eventual loss to Hamburg may be repaid by the advantages which the conflagration has given for clearing a most unwholesome and abominable portion of one of the filthiest, most gloomy, and most deformed cities of Europe.
The English we are told are going on improving London But the Germans will do none of these things—with his pipe in his mouth he will smoke away existence, as his father did before him—bequeath the business of improving to his sons, who will pass through life with their souls wrapped in tobacco fumes, like their predecessors— and transmit the recorded repulsiveness of anything that meets the senses in the length and breadth of Teutschland [sic] , untouched by the hand of renovation, to the later ages of mankind.
Casting a retrospective glance at the events that have perpetuated the cult of German literature, the author comments Madame de Stael published her Allemagne in —it is now the year In these seven-and-twenty years, a vast deal has been done in England, in France, and by the Germans themselves, to establish themselves strong in public opinion; and we even see them aspiring here and there to wield the literary sceptre with as lordly a sway as ever graced the dynasty of Voltaire.
No one k Blackwood's, Ll l , In England, at least, the Germans can no longer reasonably, complain that their literature is underrated. Unlike John Wilson, who was frankly "provoked" by the rise of Germanism, the author of this review ostentatiously declares that he is far from being embittered by the uncritical reception of German literature in England. Ready to see the positive aspects of this situation, he points out that "foreign criticism has become now something better than an echo-chamber for the bandying about of mutual misunderstandings.
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We will not admit Goethe into partnership with Shakespeare;. Goethe himself, as we learn from Eckermann , had too much sense to forward any such claim. BbfMXY 2 8 '. Trollope, to scale any heights, and penetrate any mines that may tend to give us a more perfect knowledge of our Teutonic brethren beyond the Rhine, and to Q cherish a kindly sympathy with their well-being. One should rather attempt to understand the conditions which gave rise to this attitude. It is true that in the late thirties England had some solid grounds for self- satisfaction.
She had beaten the French and was securely supreme on the seven seas. She was the workshop of the world, and had, as yet, no reason to fear industrial competitors. Her empire was the greatest there had ever been, and was still growing. She believed herself to be spreading freedom, enlightenment, and true religion in every place to which her influence extended. Although the nations of the Continent would limp after her, she was sure that they would never catch up with her, for were they not lazy and immoral?
Podsnap, "are very proud of our Constitution, Sir. It was bestowed upon us by providence. No other country is so favoured as this country. Podsnap, gravely shaking his head, "they do, I am sorry to be obliged to say it, as they do. For this 8 Ibid. Nor was this view confined to what might be called the intellectual lower orders. Jame6 Mill, having been told by someone that there were German philosophers of whom some people thought well, devoted a whole week to studying them, at the end of which he remarked: M I see well enough what poor Kant would be at.
One further cause is the fact that there was at about this time a definite lull in the literary activity of Germany. Thus, the Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review writes in London, ; p. Schiller, in particular, was greatly admired. From the year on, his popularity was assured. Uhland, though numerically not as well represented, was likewise highly lauded. It was undoubtedly due to the nature of these poems and their frankly didactic aims, that they held a constant appeal for British readers.
During the two decades preceding the Franco-Prussian War, however, even German poetry was neglected. Only six references appeared in that entire period. The most characteristic feature of the journals criticism of things German in these years, was its note of self-conscious superiority.
Now, they were especially fond of comparing German crudeness, lack of taste, and gluttony 12 with the refined sensibilities and genteel sophistication of Englishmen. And even the stuffiness of German homes, resulting from an alleged peculiarly German aversion to fresh air, and the unusual quantities of beer consumed by German students were among the things recounted by IQ travellers to tax the credulousness of British ears. In one of the few articles which do not deal with German militarism, a reviewer quotes Bttrae to the effect that it was Germany which "first started those great ideas which have been utilized and set going by other nations," and that she was the "headspring" of all those innovations--gunpowder, the printing-press l4 and the Reformation—which have changed the face of the world.
Leaving the question open whether this is really true, the author does admit, however, that Germany "is the undoubted begetter of one of the sublimest and. In the realm of poetry, it was Heine who led the field. Two important translations of dramatic works--the Second Part of Faust and Wallenstein's Gamp l --an article on "Recent German Fiction" ; and essays evaluating the music of such favourites as Mozart and Handel, further testify to the renewed interest taken by Britain in German culture.
This interest, however, was to be short-lived. Germany had 14 Anon. Finally, the beginning of World War I brought to an end in an atmosphere of hostility the interest in German literature and culture in general, which had begun nearly a hundred years earlier in a spirit of enthusiasm. Poetry , "The Mermaid, by Goethe," I, Theodore Martin, cxxi, , cxxn, Drama , Notice of pub. Man and Musician," CLV, Cornelius O'Dowd, "What is to Come of it? Das deutsche Drama , Mhnchen, Carlyle's Unfinished History of German Literature , ed. Biographia Literaria , ed.
An Essay on Poetry , London, Jakob Minor, Berlin, From Dickens to Hardy , ed. Grillparzers Werke , ed. Ernst Elster, Leipzig, William Blackwood and Sons , Edinburgh, Cook, Boston, I 89 I. German Travellers in England , Oxford, Lessing in England -I 85 O , Heidelberg, Uhlands gesammelte Werke , ed. Hermann Fischer, Stuttgart, n. Read this and over 1 million books with Kindle Unlimited. Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Borrow for free from your Kindle device. Only 7 left in stock - order soon.
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