But the criticism woke him up from such ecstasies. From time to time she asked him the question of what the mysterious book was like; she became convinced that there existed only in his head, and at last said that it was not to be complained that his book had been an antiquated one, for one had long since passed over him and his Shakspeare crickets. To Tieck’s romantic criticism, daily writers, critical philologists, and literary literary historians wanted to become knights.
That presumption has proved incorrect, and how far the new criticism is right with its claims will prove itself when the critical acts on Shakspeare are closed. Tieck’s view has remained clear until the very end. A few months before his death, when he was sent the necklace of Collier’s Shakspeare from London, which contains the newly discovered emendations, he said: “I can see nothing special in it; the good improvements have been known for a long time, and the new ones are expendable. “Here he agreed with the view of the critic who had subjected him to even the harshest censorship.
The new Shakspeare criticism has been just as ungrateful to him as unfair. She herself stands on the ground which he and Schlegel have created; she owes her existence in part to his enthusiastic prophecy, to his tireless, critical poetic reflections on the poet, in letters, essays, dramaturgical reviews, literary-historical introductions, annotations, conversations, and novellas. Also, here he avoided the measured street of the system, he preferred to walk on the winding paths of the poet. The new critique demands principle, consequence, classification of testimonies, codices, editions, readings, it is the historical philological critique. His was the intuitive, intuition of the poet, through all the envelopes she sought to penetrate straight into the heart of the great apparition. The words of criticism made him impatient; he wanted to hear how the spirit spoke to the spirit. In this sense he has done infinitely much for the knowledge of Shakspeare; maybe more than his finished book would have done.
In the intimate combination of poetry and critique lies the focus of his peculiarity, which is not easy to grasp and to present. One could put Tieck together with Lessing. As infinitely different as they are, this very contrast points to an inner relationship between the two. Lessing came from the side of criticism to poetry; She alone wanted to owe everything he could; Tieck declared poetry to be his unrestricted ruler, who must give laws, but recognize no others but his own. From poetry he came to criticism. Lessing was a poetic critic, Tieck a criticizing poet. Often he draws criticism into poetry, into the humorous comedies of the first, into the novellas of the second period, his irony carries a critical element in itself. In contrast, poetry rises in criticism; his studies of English, Spanish, German poets rest everywhere on poetic enthusiasm. He likes to give his critique an artistic form. He writes letters and short stories about Shakspeare, and the characteristics of Goethe’s age are also almost a novella. The introduction to the “Island Rock Castle” and other reviews become a conversation.
Criticism often appears in its poetry as a literary-historical one, and therefore presupposes the knowledge of many individual relations, and its views bear the stamp of deviating peculiarity. From this a great part of his appointees derived the opinion that Tieck’s poetry was unpopular. This doctrine has been elaborated on with fondness; he seeks the extreme, peculiar, grilling, that he is an aristocratic poet for the spirited, for aesthetic thieves, not for the people. It can never befriend its fairy tales and novellas!
Strange! Was not it his poetry that plunged into nature into the first element in which man breathes? What could be more popular than this! Was not he the one who went after the old forgotten or miserable folk tales and restored them to honor? Did not he speak enthusiastically everywhere of the greatness of the poets who were popular? Did not he treat in his novels what filled the spirits of the present? And yet he should not have anything folk-like? Where these reproaches have not arisen out of ignorance, misunderstanding, or partiality, their cause is to be sought in a one-sided view of his critical direction. Against this view speaks the effect of his seals in general as well as in detail. Men of all ages were deeply moved by them in earlier and later times; in some characters they found themselves, their own mental states so clearly represented, that they felt compelled to write to them, and would have liked to have made them their conscience counsel , They were completely unknown persons, not scholars, not literary people. Still in 1842 he received a letter from a baker in Karlsruhe, who thanked him for the “Young Master Carpenter” as a poetic glorification of the German artisan class. It is a fact that others of his novels have been read with zeal and preference by persons whom one usually calls uneducated.
And what about that reproach of unpopularity? There are critics who break the bar about Schiller, precisely because he is popular, who find proof of Goethe’s greatness in his less popular attitude. What is popular, truly popular? Not that which stamps the criticism of the day, what a narrow circle of people, what a particular class of education explains; not what is right today, because tomorrow will be wrong, what is being discussed today and forgotten tomorrow. Nor in the characterless general, but rather in the fullness of the peculiar, in which generations and times find themselves, lies the popular element.
Tieck knew the difficulty of his attitude to the present: “Something is always the order of the day in Germany,” he writes to Solger. “It becomes empty form, mindless fashion and exaggerated one-sidedness, and we always see some of the best eagerly take part to blind themselves, and the same nation, which swarms for general and all-roundness, can never come to its senses before any new delusion. In my desire for the new, the strange, the profound, the mystical, and the whimsical, there was always a desire for doubt and cool vulgarity in my soul, and a disgust of my heart to be voluntarily intoxicated, who always kept me from all these fever diseases so that I have not been involved in revolution, philanthropy, Pestalozzi, Kantianism, Fichtianism, even the philosophy of nature as the last single system of truth, believed that they could perish in these forms. ”
And so he kept it to the end. He has always believed in the great invisible community of spirits that does not die out, that lives and works at all times. She decides who and what is popular; Tieck can look forward to her words!
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Everything Reflectiren and Raisonniren has always been far from my nature. I have always sought things out of the whole, out of feeling and enthusiasm, to try to understand and to look at them. These requirements have not decreased with age, but increased. It is my individuality.
In my youth I was a simple and quiet person, far from overconfidence and reluctant to contradict others. But as soon as I had really experienced something in myself, and it had become my conviction, I had to pronounce it when I heard a different view asserted in an appealing manner. This wrongly drew me to some of the blame of my teachers, who considered me presumptuous and full of contradiction. Later I have appeared soft to many. Much that others put a high value upon, I have taken more easily, because I personally did not care whether something of the kind was set up so or otherwise. One could therefore think of me in many ways as complacent, yielding, indeed effective. But that only went to a certain limit; because from time immemorial my whole soul was outraged when I noticed that it was assumed that I was inwardly destined to dominate my very own nature; I never suffered that.
The contrast of the jest and the seriousness is absolutely necessary for my being. In the deep melancholy, in the gloom that has often struck me, he has been fortunate for me. I always knew how to preserve my sense of joke. Even in my youth one could not understand this double nature, and therefore sometimes considered me foolish.
Protestantism had become an empty form in my youth, and the religious sense largely escaped. For a long time the younger clergy were no longer resembling the elderly and dignified, who, though also known for enlightenment, possessed moral zeal and worked on themselves. These were worthy of attention; it was serious with practical morality, like sack, spalding and plates. The younger ones were preachers, as they could have been anything else; they made no secret of that. They performed their official functions as something outward, and often desperately desired another position of life. What I hated was their limited self-sufficiency, their handling of things, and their know-how, with which they believed they could explain everything. So deeper minds could be attracted to Catholicism, which at least seemed to satisfy feelings.
In religious life I have had the strangest experiences. At that time, and later on, unilateral zealots appeared, which, one might say, were full of Protestant superstition and fanaticism. They could not hear the Catholic Church speak, without scolding, and persecute them in their speeches. In vain did I try to lead them to a cheap and fair way of thinking, and I could scarcely make them understand that it at least deserved recognition, that Catholicism was connected with the arts, and that it cared for and developed them for a long time. Then, suddenly, these people were killed, became Catholic themselves, went far beyond what I had told them before, wanted to convert me, and now, with even greater fanaticism, pursued everything Protestant.
Limited were the critics who led the great word in poetry and literature in my youth; They judged everything according to their enlightenment, and Goethe did not want to recognize it either. They had no idea of the new spirit that went through German poetry, and in their narrowness they meant quite naturally, if only they wanted, they would be able to do the same and better than Goethe. They were in their fullest natural opposition to poetry in general, and therefore they could not fight their presumption decidedly enough.
One does not believe how isolated I stood with the thoughts and feelings that I expressed in the Sternbald; not just against the Berlin Enlightenment, but also some of my friends, z. B. the Schlegel, did not agree with me at all. They, too, were filled with the then prevailing cosmopolitanism. I have never been able to convince myself of the correctness of this view; For me the fatherland was the first and the highest. His life and his art, his old, simple and sincere way, which one laughed at because one did not know her, I wanted to bring back to honor and represent in the “Sternbald”. I have always regretted that I did not manage to continue the “Sternbald”; In the second part, the inner essence of German life was to develop even more significantly.
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I wrote the “Genoveva” with the utmost enthusiasm. The old folk book had come into my hands by chance, and had attracted me by its simplicity and fidelity. Even in these mocked and despised books was a real German and natural tone, which touched me infinitely. Added to this was the fact that I was zealously studying Jakob Böhme at that time. This has had no small influence on the attitude of this seal. But other moods also proved to be counterweight, because the “Zerbino” came about almost simultaneously. When I published both under the title “Romantic Poems,” it did not occur to me to give this word any special meaning; I took it the way it was generally used. At most I wanted to suggest that here the miraculous in poetry should be emphasized more. Afterward, of course, the word has been used to me even to the point of being overstrained; it was then in katho lisirenden meaning applied. Soon after I had written the “Genoveva”, the romantic belief in miracles began to become good in some people in Berlin, especially among the young witty Jews. I could safely count on anyone coming and telling me about my “Genoveva” in this way, so it was a young Jew who wanted to prove to me his depth and ability to believe.
Afterwards they wanted to make me the head of a so-called Romantic School. Nothing was further from me than that, as in all my life all party beings. Nevertheless, one did not stop to write and speak against me in this sense, but only because one did not know me. If I was asked to give a definition of the romantic, I would not be able to do that. I know no difference between poetic and romantic at all. In “Octavian” I did not want to give new poetry, but only to show how poetry appeared in a certain time.
The idea of irony only developed completely later, especially since I had got into closer traffic with Solger. Before that, I had more suspicion of the necessity of such a thought for the poet, than that he had become clear to me. These dark hunches I had especially in the study of Shakspeare; I felt that this was what made him the greatest poet, and of so many significant, supreme distinguished from excellent talents. In my own poems, therefore, irony is at first more unconscious but at the same time decidedly expressed; Above all, this is the case in “Lovell”. The direct irony prevails in the “Puss in Boots”, from the higher there is something in the “Bluebeard”, and she is decided in “Fortunat”. Of course, the “Genoveva”, which should have been portrayed as a saint, has none of it, but the way in which Golo sinks deeper and deeper in his passion touches on the ironic.
Later, Solger has made a deep section in my life. His “Erwin” is an excellent book in which he points to irony as a supreme; I owe him a lot. Among all the earlier philosophers, only Jakob Bohme had bound me, and for a time completely mastered it. However, I have also strayed from it, since I realized that he also cut off arbitrarily, without being able to compensate his Lucifer with God, and in a kind of despair. I was really able to follow Solger’s train of thought, and in this way I returned to philosophy. I had the highest respect for his great talent; it was a rare and excellent man. I lived with him in the most intimate agreement, and often communicated to him my works in manuscripts. The conviction of an inner mystical connection between philosophy and religion was established in him; he had worked through these thoughts in himself, but wanted to let them mature even more, and saved her representation for his age. In life he was quite religious; he had the need of the community, he had to gather with her, sing and preach. He was the that one could also build on the presentation of bad preachers. On the other hand, I could not really communicate with Schelling about the elective affinity of our schools.
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In the “Young Master Carpenter” I presented the former life of the German artisan class, but at the same time I wanted to perform a certain casuistry. The craftsman and the nobleman are completely alike in that they must go through a series of aberrations in order to arrive at the true moral point of view. Only through their aberrations do they learn to know the right way, and only now do they realize what they possess in their moral conditions. This happens infinitely often in life, and therefore some have wrongly wanted to find immorality in this novella.
In the “Vittoria Accorombona” one even wanted to see a moral aberration, and therefore made severe reproaches. An otherwise intelligent woman once told me that she should not confess in her circles that she had read this book; rather, she had to keep it carefully shut in her bookcase in front of strangers’ eyes. I can say that I do not understand this prudery. It did not occur to me to use lustful descriptions to provoke a sensuous tickling; that has always been far from my nature. I’ve always thought that common and completely illegal. Nor has it been my intention, as some have said, to represent the victory of weakness after all those struggles to want. Rather, Pope Sixtus is a formidable person who finally takes over the work of retribution for all former crimes. Vittoria, too, has transcended the limits set in the feeling of her strength, especially in relation to her first husband. This is of course a bad character, but she treats him with discouraging exuberance. His lightheartedness makes it possible for her to overlook the downsides in Bracciano’s character. This one is not pure of serious sacrilege, but he is a significant force. Some have asked why I have resolved the turned-on poems in prose. It was hard for these poems to find the right form; the next would have been the Canzone, but this one is not easy to handle. Nor did I want to interrupt the steady flow of representation through the verse.
When the so-called boy Germany came up, some of these people imagined that I would have to take the lead. At times I had expressed my misappropriation, even bold and paradoxical opinions; I had done this verbally and in writing; I had been friends with the Schlegel, who had first given the bold tone in the criticism, and these modern writers believed that I must agree with them too. But they did not know me. Nothing has ever been more hateful to me than the appalling tone of the system that copes with everything; on the other hand, I always rose, it might come from whence it wanted. And now only this vanity, this brutal destruction, this opposition that only wants itself! When it came out that I was with these people could never do anything collaborative, they attacked me and persecuted me as much as they could. But I never cared.
People forget that a benevolent relationship imposes its own duties; If I have something to thank a prince, it is the duty of the piety not to tune into the cries of his opponents. Whatever differences may occur, gratitude conditionally determines my position; for me that is the first; if I disagree on any point, I keep it for myself, and keep silent. Nevertheless, if one were to be able to pronounce it, it would not be clumsy and brutal, but with protection and the consideration offered by piety. How many did not receive benefits and forget them? Yes, they do great by sacrificing the first human duty of an alleged truth!