The most profound and sublime thing that has been written is the “Faust”; Apart from the “Gotz” and the “robbers,” I know of no poetry that would have had such a great effect on me. But for me it already concludes in the oldest fragments. How deeply moving and true is not Faust’s anguish! The innermost depths of human nature are included here; so also in the conversation with Wagner. The appearance of the earth spirit is one of the most extraordinary conceptions, and those verses are overwhelming: “I weave at the whirling loom of time” u. s. w. Here there is a force between God and man, whose task is to create the changing world of experience. What is the point of a man who has had this most sublime of all appearances, a miserable Mephistopheles, who in the end finds no place in the nature of things in this form? What should a limited young girl like Gretchen do for him? What else can both of them mean by their being and their speech after that appearance? Anyone who has had such revelation no longer needs it. Even in the walk scene with Wagner is a waste. But those first scenes are and can only be a fragment in their nature; here is no conclusion. Certainly Goethe did not want to give one at first; it was a direct effusion. Among the later scenes I take only one, it is Faust’s conversation with Gretchen about God: “Who can call him” u. s. w. The gethan sayings belong to the sublime, which makes one think. So too that word which Goethe Faust in the first conversation with Wagner says: “Those who revealed their looks have always been crucified and burned!” How stiff and profound is not the epigram: “Beat me with any fanatics on the cross”. s. w. And what distance now the second part of the “Faust” against the first! He has always been unpleasant to me, and I never knew what to do with these allegories and these secrets. At his age Goethe spoke almost dismissively of the revelations of his youth, and earlier he had begun to improve on the older poetry. I have always preferred the older version of “Stella,” and if one has raised objections in the moral sense, one can ask, on the other hand, whether it was poetically justified to conclude as it does in the later reworking. Of course, Fernando does not play a special role. But Goethe portrayed sensations in this situation, which certainly have often moved him. Also, I prefer the earlier “Claudine” and “Erwin and Elmire” the later edits by far.
Much is splendid in “Iphigenia,” yet I can not prefer it to “Gotz.” The plot is almost too simplistic and refined; in the fourth act she stands still. Also, the beginning with a monologue, glorious as it is, may not be fully justified. Orestes, the hero, immediately appears in chains; that has something oppressive, the heroic character not promising. And never would exclusive Hellenism have confronted the barbarian like here; rather, that too is really German again, like much in the “Iphigenia”. The conclusion also comes too fast; it almost breaks off.
Deeply shocking is “Tasso”; it is a real tragedy. In many respects Goethe spoke here of his own relation to court and court life. Only the princess disappears too fast. There is something unsatisfying about not hearing from her after the disaster. Also, the character of the prince does not emerge from a certain ambiguity.
Even in Wilhelm Meister the ultimate development has something inadequate. At the end of the day, Wilhelm becomes too practically sensible, and his character becomes more and more generally symbolic. And what does the strange company in the tower want with its activities? But excellent and quite in Goethe’s Art Nouveau is the beginning. How deep are not the years of wandering! In general, Goethe, if he wants to be quite practical, sometimes becomes quite ordinary, and it is deeply to be lamented that such a splendid genius could sink as it does in many cases what he wrote after his Italian journey. He slanders himself by contemptuously looking down on the splendid works of his youth as barbarism.
I have never tasted the “natural daughter”; it is, however, a high perfection of language and verse, but it is a cold splendor. Everything is generalized. It could also be said that the piece consists of only five first acts.
I have always disliked the “elective affinities”. Everything is calculated here and pointed to the extreme. Eduard is an obnoxious fellow and so demanding. Even mediators, to whom Goethe evidently attaches value, is a flat character.
Also in the praise of the “fairy tale” I can not agree. It is far too abstract and too general and too darkly allegorizing for a fairy tale.
Goethe always sought to be in harmony with Providence, which is appropriate to his nature; in the direction of the defiant, the provocative and the accuser, which is Schiller’s basic element, he only rarely moves. Decisively, he has never actually come in, even in Faust. Appeals of this kind can be found in the poem: “He who never ate his bread in tears”; especially in the verse: “He does not know you, you heavenly powers,” in which lies an unthinkable depth. This is really experienced and expression of the highest poetic enthusiasm.
I have infinitely admired Goethe in his youthful poetry and still admire him; I have spoken and written so much in praise of him that if I hear so many unadorned eulogists now, I might be tempted even in my old age to write a book for Goethe’s sake for a change. For one will not be fooled by the fact that he too has his weaknesses, which posterity will certainly recognize. And why should not he have her? Their knowledge can only bring it closer to us and make it more understandable. His writings will sooner or later have to divorce; Not everything can be equally good and important, and can be adopted by posterity. How much commonplace can not be found in the mass correspondence, which one still is not tired of publishing, such. B. in the tent with. On the other hand, the first volumes of the correspondence with Schiller are really significant. The excessive admiration itself must necessarily lead to a separation of the permanent.
Schiller’s development did not come out pure; He started with his greatest work. In the “robbers” he expressed a thought in the most powerful way, and addressed a dreadful question to the deity: How is the misery of so many millions to be reconciled with divine love and providence? The violence with which this thought is persecuted, the defiance that lies in it, outweighs all the weaknesses of poetry as a work of art. Francis, of course, as a character is low and petty, it is a misunderstood imitation of Richard III; but truly sublime, indeed colossal, is his vision of the Last Judgment in Act Five. Weak is the motive, that Karl becomes a robber on the alleged letter of his father, whose weakness he must know; how great is his character, his gigantic company, to set up the world. A work of such truly titanic power has no other kind of poetry, no other literature. All the power man can bring to Divine Providence is expressed; all demonic elements are unleashed, and all thoughts of human opposition to God can be summarized here. It is the poetry of misfortune which appears with an imposing force. And yet despite all bravado, what kindness! This is the true spirit of poetry, which understands even these deepest and most terrible problems in the way Schiller has done here. For a fundamental tone of reconciliation goes through nonetheless. In the character of Karl Moor you will find in all defiance traits of true human gentleness and softness. In addition, in the scene with the father and the characteristics of individual robbers, there is an attachment to the comic which Schiller later did not elaborate, which is infinitely regrettable. It is a single poem; for me his contemplation has become indispensable, it is necessary to my being; I would not be able to do without it. The Schlegel did not share my admiration of the “robbers”; they found them raw and barbaric, which I never could understand. But they did not understand Schiller, and had no idea of his magnificence, as the epigrams of the old Schlegel have proved; and the worst are not even printed. Likewise, those of F. Schlegel not.
In the first treatment, the “robbers” are not high enough, but in later years Schiller himself has spoiled his poetry by his improvements; as well some of his great poems to be mentioned in the anthology, which he later reworked. Had he departed in this way, he would have become one of the most formidable and terrible phenomena. But he was afraid of himself, he feared his innermost nature, and therefore broke off his free development. Later, philosophy ruined its poetry without becoming a philosopher. With her help he set himself a measure which was contrary to his nature; Goethe, on the other hand, when he became moderate, took this from his nature. Nevertheless, Schiller could not exterminate his. By the way, in my opinion it would have been better if Schiller and Goethe had never met. They hindered and inhibited each other in their development, and shortened their peculiarity; each one has accepted something from the other, and has forfeited more of his own. They worked each other into the idea of the ideal, which in the end is something very general. Schiller sought to win Goethe for philosophy and their inclusion in poetry, against which he rightfully resisted. Schiller, on the other hand, assumed from Goethe the equalization, weakening, and moderating, and, under this influence, turned away from his oldest vigorous productions even more. And yet, albeit in milder forms, he always maintained something of that opposition to the world order by treating himself, more or less consciously, to the idea of Christianity and the Fatherland, in the negative. In all later plays he is always led back to this point, but he only wanders around it, it does not come to the outbreak, especially in the “Don Carlos”.
In “Cabale and Love” there is no lack of highly distinguished details, but it is unlikely that Ferdinand believes in Luisen’s love for the silly marshal. In a French adaptation, which I saw performed in Strasburg, one had felt that well, and therefore made the marshal a chamberlain, who is a quite sensible man, and takes music lessons from the old man. The old man is still the best character.
“Fiesco” is hardly a piece to call; it has decidedly something raw; so the scene, where Fiesco humiliates Juliet so terribly before his wife.
“Wallenstein,” who is portrayed as a formidable character, is actually neither good nor evil, he wavers back and forth, and his action does not come to a breakthrough. Again, the motivation is weak. The Terzky Raisonnement is a very ordinary one. She says things that Wallenstein himself must have said a thousand times; He answers in surprise: “I never saw it from this side!” And now the sentimental episode, which Schiller added out of the heart’s need! How could the Terzky believe that Wallenstein, on that journey, wanted to approach Thekla and Max, if she knew him rightly? And both of these are downright reprehensible. Does a general act like Max, who in a fit of emperor’s desperation sacrifices mindless troops? Could not he go to Vienna and use Wallenstein? And Thekla leaves the sick mother, the stooped father, to seek the grave of her lover! What does she want there, since Max is no longer alive? Her duty was to stay. Even the whiny Duchess is an unpleasant character. Nevertheless, “Wallenstein” is a great work; the iron character of a terrible and warlike time is excellently reproduced. Above all, its effect lies in this masculine and vigorous attitude, and it will always be mentioned as the first of the German tragedies.
Much is unmotivated in the “Bride of Messina,” although this poetry is rich in beautiful passages. Schiller can not really make a dramatic plan, he is always different than he originally wanted. Nor do he want to succeed in the characters of women. He is most carefree in motivating, and allows the improbable to apply. Goethe often only motivates too much, Schiller too little; nowhere does he carry out the action decisively, but he is truly great in the situation, and with that he stands still. Where one expects action, the speech enters and lyrical outpourings, which in themselves are very beautiful, but here not in their place. Thus, in the “Maria Stuart” at the beginning of the third act, the anapples are: “Hurrying clouds” u. s. w. always like a stitch through the heart. The great monologues in the “Maid of Orleans” become equally known to him as isolated declamation [p. 197] yes one can say music and concert pieces. It is here that Schiller has found many imitators who have taken up his rhetorical pathos without having his genius, and in the end were only able to imitate his mistakes.
Schlegel wrongly declared William Tell to be Schiller’s best work. The deliberate coldness with which Tell proceeds to action, and which he pronounces in the great monologue, has something repulsive about it. And why the episode of Rudenz and Bertha?
Much higher than all later pieces of Schiller’s is his “Demetrius”. It is a very great fragment. Had he been able to accomplish it, it would have left everything else far behind. He entered a new stage of development. Likewise, it is to be regretted that he did not finish the “ghost-watcher,” whom he treated as a side job, and upon whom he unfairly placed so little value. The book is masterfully written, and Schiller’s full intellectual power is expressed in it.
I could spare his ballads; they are not necessary to me, and generally I can not believe them to be complete. The “diver” even seems unnatural to me; as well as the description of natural scenes, which can not be described at all, as well as in the motives and characters. I can not deny that, after having made such a friendly acquaintance with Schiller’s first titanic poetry, all the later ones appeared to me only as weakening.
If he has become so much more popular than Goethe, then this is because he is a genuinely German poet. It is a purely German feature that he always starts with great and deep thoughts and strives for their expression; so too his spirit of contradiction and the sense of freedom, which extends through all the seals. Through his magnificence and profoundness, he will take a high place in the life of the German people at all times.
is a significant, indeed great time; the poets, who appeared at the time beside Goethe, excite our highest interest. The effect of the “Gotz” was tremendous, and with the beginning of the seventies a new life began for German poetry. The most original and peculiar aspects of the German character emerged again with new strength. The life of nature, the sense of the individual, which goes as far as isolation and the strange, the pursuit of independence, the adherence to the family, coarseness, which becomes self-defeating, an undeniably democratic trait, all this speaks especially in the dramas of those Time often in the strongest way. At that time it came to light that the German Biedermeier told the princes and their counselors the bitterest truths, often in the grossest tone, and no one objected to this, neither the people nor the government, indeed the princes themselves, listened to it.
I have often thought of publishing a library of the most popular older dramatic poems of this kind; it would be a mirror of the German spirit and bring to life the mood of the times. Apart from the poems by Lenz and Klinger, the pieces by Törring and Babo, which nevertheless have their merits, would also be included here. If it is not lacking in raw features, it is not lacking in strong ones, and Törring’s “Agnes Bernauerin” I still prefer to all other arrangements of this material, as much as have since appeared. Albrecht’s passionate speech in the tournament scene is excellent. Also Großmann’s “not more than six bowls!” Is here to call. It was a very welcome piece, and in its performance the court was often present, despite the failures that occurred in it. Goethe is wrong to call this piece a vulgar one. Likewise, Iffland’s “hunters” belong here. In the description of the sense of family, this is a true German drama to call; obwol sometimes wide, but it contains many great things. It is undoubtedly Iffland’s best product, and the weakness of his other plays makes one wonder that he was capable of writing such things. All these dramas bear the stamp of the German spirit, and would have become a good basis for a German national theater, for which at that time in general there was more hope than ever since.
As a character, Lenz was unreliable. If he says in one of his letters that he had saved the Duke of Weimar from the water, and afterward he had become indispensable, that was certainly not true. Just as alarming are many other hints that can be found in his letters. How uncharacteristically he did not show himself against Wieland, whom he had so violently attacked in the “Pandaemonium Germanicum”! He also seems to have been fearful, at least one must deduce from the trouble he gave himself to conceal the fact that he was the author of the play The Soldiers. Worst for him was his eternal restlessness, his unsteady nature and project-making. Already in Strasburg he wrote all kinds of military science, of which he hardly understood anything. Even after his illness, when he had returned to Russia, he remained uneasy. Being in a poor condition, he submitted to the government all sorts of plans, for which he received occasional small support. His writings from this period are weak, dark and confused; only a broken force appears in it. So vain, full of self-confidence, and brave in his good times, so feeble-minded, depressed, and humble, he shows himself after the illness. This was certainly only the consequence of over-excited vanity. It was a fixed idea in his illness that he had insulted all his friends in a deadly way. When Klinger found him at Schlosser’s, he took a violent cure with him by putting him in a cold water barrel for a few hours, which also resulted in a few light moments. Lenz has been ruined by his lack of character. I have always had the experience that significant talent without character certainly leads to the sinking. Both talent and character must bear each other and complement each other if a prosperous development is to take place. Heinrich von Kleist, who was after all a completely different man, also failed, and in more recent times Fouqué.
Out of the whole circle, which had gathered in Strasburg around Goethe, Lenz is the most important. He has a tremendous power in the individual. As crude as his figures are, they are sometimes equated with those of Goethe. His characters are a bit coarse, but they are true and alive. B. the Ma jor in the “Hofmeister”, who was a main character of Schröder’s. Of course, one does not have to look for an artist in him, as is shown by the fact that he subjects his dramas to all sorts of general ideas of usefulness, such as the disadvantages of private education, the celibacy of soldiers, and so forth. s. w.
Klinger decided to leave Lenz behind. He has a certain power, but not the one he talks about incessantly. His first work “The Twins” are excellent and full of tragic violence, but all his later tragedies are far behind. One feels like he struggles to be tall and sublime, which very much repels the abundance in Lenz. And how chilly and cold are not his last antique tragedies! The novels he wrote in his youth in the taste of Crebillon are also weak. Here he still appears as an imitator of Wieland’s. On the other hand, his later serious novels are dark, repulsive and violent. His best work in this genre is “poet and world man”.
is to be added to the most authentic German poets. What tones did he not strike in his “Käthchen” and especially in the “Prince of Homburg”! This is one of the finest and most national dramas we have. Even if the mystical side is further away from us, it does not have anything disturbing here, and it also comes out less than in “Käthchen.” How human are true and vivid are not all the characters; so the prince himself, the old Kottwitz; very individual and yet big is the Elector. The short monologue in the fifth Acte: “If I were the Dei of Tunis” belongs to the most excellent, what has to show our dramatic poetry. He expressed the holy wrath of an injured national feeling in the “Hermannsschlacht” truly magnificent. The general misfortune of the country was one of his personal pain. Even his first tragedy “The Schroffensteiner” contains a lot of beautiful, and proved his profession drama; Of course, other things are flat, raw, yes childish, like history with the finger. Had he finished the “Robert Guiscard,” this would undoubtedly have become the greatest of his poems. A true masterpiece in comedy is his “Zerbrochner Krug”. It was wrong to make a comedy when it was divided into three acts, because it was a little too long. His stories are also excellent, and rightly one has always recognized the “Kohlhas”. Perhaps the “History of the Marquise of O.” is even more complete and complete. Phenomena of this kind were scarcely noticed, while the most mediocre were met with the greatest applause! I may boast that I have contributed considerably to their preservation and final recognition. I did not confess to Kleist in a friendly relationship, but I always loved and honored his great talent, and his tragic destiny deeply shocked me.