Types of Weltschmerz in German Poetry

9780217653312: Types of Weltschmerz in German Poetry

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1905 edition. Excerpt: ...firmly in its grasp, he lacks those means by which he might free himself from it. Heine goes still further, for having become conscious of his melancholy, he mercilessly applies the lash of self-irony, and in it finds the antidote for his Weltschmerz. Fichte, says Erich Schmidt, calls egoism the spirit of the eighteenth century, by which he means the revelling, the complete absorption, in the personal. This will naturally find its favorite occupation in sentimental self-contemplation, which becomes a sort of fashionable epidemic. It is this fashion which Goethe wished to depict in "Werther," and therefore Werther's hopeless love is not wholly responsible for his suicide. "Werther untergrabt sein Dasein durch Selbstbetrachtung," is Goethe's own explanation of the case.4 And it is in 1 "Das Kruzifix, Eine Kunstlerlcgende," 1820. Schurz, Vol. I, p. I58f. Schurz, Vol. II, p. 6. Cf. Breitinger: "Studien und Wandertage;" Frauenfeld, Huber, 1870. this light only that Werther's malady deserves in any comprehensive sense the term Weltschmerz. Here, then, Lenau and Werther stand on common ground. Other traits common to most poets of Weltschmerz might here be enumerated as characteristic of both, such as extreme fickleness of purpose, supersensitiveness, lack of definite vocation, and the like; all of which goes to show that while for artistic purposes Goethe required a dramatic cause, or rather occasion, for Werther's suicide, he nevertheless fully understood all the symptoms of the prevailing disease with which his sentimental hero was afflicted. While the personal elements in Lenau's Weltschmerz are much more intense in their expression than with Holderlin, its altruistic side is proportionately weaker. So far as we may judge from his lyrics, very little...

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