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Relative of Brigitte Ingeborg Gastel

Friedrich Hoelderlin

March 20, 1770 - June 7, 1843 



 


by Lawrence Ryan, University of Massachusetts-Amherst 

Denied recognition during his lifetime, Friedrich Hoelderlin has come to be regarded as a central figure of the German Classical-Romantic period. Despite his achievements in the fields of the novel, drama, and poetic theory, and despite the important influence he exerted on the development of the philosophy of German Idealism, he is best known for his lyric poetry. Hoelderlin's verse represents both the culmination of the German classical tradition, with its thematic and formal indebtedness to the literature of antiquity, and the highest expression of the German Romantic glorification of the poet, combining veneration of nature with the development of a national poetic ideal. 

Johann Christian Friedrich Hoelderlin was born in Lauffen, near Nuertingen, in Swabia, to Heinrich Friedrich Hoelderlin and Johanna Christiana Heyn Hoelderlin on March 20, 1770. His father died in 1772, and his mother remarried in 1774; her second husband, Johann Christoph Gock, mayor of Nuertingen, died in 1779. Hoelderlin's mother was a constant admonishing presence throughout most of his life, forcing him continually to defend his preoccupation with poetry. After attending the local school in Nuertingen, Hoelderlin enrolled in 1788 in the Tuebinger Stift, the theological seminary which has counted among its pupils such thinkers and poets as Johannes Kepler, Johann Albrecht Bengel, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, Eduard Moerike, Wilhelm Hauff, and Friedrich Theodor Vischer. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, two of the leading figures of German Idealism, were fellow students of Hoelderlin, and their exchange of ideas continued for some years after they left the seminary. At Tuebingen Hoelderlin was instructed in theology, Greek literature, and contemporary philisophy, all of which laid the groundwork for his later writings. He graduated from the seminary in 1793 on the basis of two theses, *Parallele zwischen Salomons Spruechwoertern und Hesiods Werken und Tagen* (Parallel Between the Proverbs of Solomon and Hesiod's Works and Days) and *Geschichte der schoenen Kuenste unter den Griechen* (History of the Fine Arts among the Greeks). An important influence was the French Revolution, which aroused in the seminarians high hopes for the realization of revolutionary political ideals in Germany. While still in Tuebingen, Hoelderlin wrote hymnic poems with such titles as *Hymne an die Freiheit* (Hymn to Freedom) and *Hymne an die Goettin der Harmonie* (Hymn to the Goddess of Harmony). They are lengthy, somewhat prolix rhymed poems that owe much to the example of Hoelderlin's Swabian compatriot Friedrich Schiller, whom the younger poet revered and with whom he occasionally corresponded. Although several of these poems were published in various almanacs, they attracted little attention and are by no means characteristic of Hoelderlin's most important work. 

After graduating from the seminary, Hoelderlin was unwilling to pursue the career of clergyman for which his training had befitted him, and instead, on Schiller's recommendation, took a position as private tutor with Schiller's friend Charlotte von Kalb at Waltershausen, in Thuringia. Although this position afforded him an opportunity to devote himself to the poetic and philosophical studies that were already his main concern, he soon encountered difficulties with his pedagogical duties, which let to termination of his employment. In early 1795 he moved to Jena, where he attended lectures at the university with the intention either of preparing himself by his writing. There he was in contact with Schiller, and also met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried von Herder, but he was influenced most particularly by the philisopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, whom he called *die Seele von Jena* (the soul of Jena). Fichte's epoch-making lectures on his *Wissenschaftslehre* (Theory of Knowledge), which laid the foundation of German Idealist philosophy, affected Hoelderlin deeply. But Fichte's theory of the selfpositioning ego, inimical to nature as it was, plunged Hoelderlin into a turmoil of self-doubt from which he had to struggle to emancipate himself. It is generally considered that his preciptious return from Jena to his native Nuertingen in mid 1795 was largely an attempt to escape from what he called the *Luftgeister mit den metaphysischen Fluegeln* (airborne spirits with metaphysical wings). 

Hoelderlin's philosophical differences with Fichte first found expression in two jottings (unpublished until the 1960s) titled *Sein* (Being) and *Urteil* (Judgement), in which he questions Fichte's concept of the manifest self-consciousness of the *absolute ego* as the starting point of philosophy. For Hoelderlin, self-consciousness is the establishment of an identity that presupposes a foregoing difference and is therefore by definition distinct from the ultimate oneness of Beeing, so that self-consciousness and the Absolute are mutually exclusive. (He expressed a similar idea in a letter to Hegel of January 26, 1795.) *Sein* and *Urteil* probably represent the first articulation of a criticism of Fichte that gave a new turn to the whole philosophy of Idealism; they also suggest the important influence that Hoelderlin exerted on Hegel and Schelling, as does the document generally known as *Das aelteste Systemprogram des deutschen Idealismus* (The Oldest System-Program of German Idealism; unpublished until 1917), a two-page outline of a philosophic program which culminates in the call for *eine neue Mythologie* (a new mythology). It is in Hegel's handwriting but its authorship has been much disputed, and it has been variously attributed to Hegel, Schelling, and Hoelderlin; the input of Hoelderlin seems in any case to have been paramount. 

Late in 1795 Hoelderlin accepted a position as tutor with the family of Jakob Friedrich Gontard, a banker in Frankfurt am Main. Although disaffected by the stiffness of the city's social life, he soon developed a deep attachment to Susette Borkenstein Gontard, the wife of his employer. Under the name of Diotima, taken from that of the priestess of love in Plato's Symposium, she began to figure in Hoelderlin's writings as the object of his love and as the incarnation of eternal beauty. He describes himself as being in a *neue Welt* (new world), where his *Schoenheitssinn* (sense of beauty) is assured beyond all uncertainty. In 1796, owing to the unrest caused by the Napoleonic wars, he accompanied Susette Gontard on a trip to Cassel and Bad Driburg in Westfalia, where he also made the acquaintance of the author Wilhelm Heinse. By September 1798, however, his relationship with Susette Gontard had created such tensions in the household that he was forced to give up his position and leave Frankfurt am Main for the nearby town of Homburg. He seems seldom to have seen Susette after his departure, but her letters to him, published in 1921 as Die Briefe von Diotima (Letters from Diotima) and often reprinted, constitute a moving testimony to their love. 

The main work of this period is the novel Hyperion oder Der Eremit in Griechenland (2 volumes, 1797-1799; translated as Hyperion; or, The Hermit in Greece, 1965). Hoelderlin had begun the novel during his student days in Tuebingen and had revised it continually during his stays in Waltershausen and Jena. In 1794 a preliminary version was published under the title *Fragment von Hyperion* (Fragment of Hyperion) in Friedrich Schiller's literary journal Neue Thalia. This version of the novel is cast in the form of letters from Hyperion, a young late-eighteen-century Greek, to his German friend Bellarmin. The letters depict his constant struggle to attain the moment of transcendent experience in which all conflict is resolved and temporality is suspended: *Was mir nicht Alles, und ewig Alles ist, ist mir Nichts* (What for me is not All, and eternally All, is nothing). In nature, in love, in a visit to Homeric sites, Hyperion experiences momentary intimations of his ideal, which constantly eludes him, so that his aspirations remain unfulfilled. The image of the *exzentrische Bahn* (eccentric path), which constantly diverges from the center of Being that it always seeks but can never permanently attain, becomes a symbol of the course of human existence. 

In Jena, Hoelderlin had revised this version, partly in order to take account of his attempt to come to terms with the philosophy of Fichte. In a metrical version and a fragment, entitled *Hyperions Jugend* (Hyperion's Youth), he abandoned the epistolary format in favor of a retrospective technique in which the older Hyperion looks back on his youth. The narrator, relating his story to a young visitor, acknowledges that the process of reflection has made him *tyrannisch gegen die Natur* (tyrannical towards nature), in that he has reduced nature to the material of self- consciousness. This theme echoes Hoelderlin's criticism of Fichte's philosophy and its preoccupation with the autonomy of the *absolute ego*. Hoelderlin's new orientation finds expression in the Platonic view of love as the longing of the imperfect for the ideal, and in a new conception of beauty, which emerges as the only form in which the unity of Being, unattainable precisely because it is the object of striving, is incarnated: *jenes Sein, im einzigen Sinne des Worts ... ist vorhanden-als Schoenheit* (Being, in the unique sense of the word...is present-as Beauty). With this subordination of self-consciousness to the realization of beauty, Hoelderlin establishes the conceptual framework that he follows in completing the novel. 

The final version of the novel, the greater part of which was completed during the period he was in Frankfurt am Main, shows Hoelderlin's increasing stylistic and formal mastery. He returns to the epistolary form of the first version, but now endows it with a particularly sophisticated structure. Hyperion presents a retrospective view of his life, beginning at the stage at which, after having lost his beloved and his friends, he returns bitterly disappointed to his native land, intending to take up the life of a hermit. The main focus is not the sequence of events but the act of narration itself. The seemingly disconnected fragments of his experience are integrated through the process of reflective recapitulation and gradually assume a dialectical structure in which union and separation, joy and suffering come to be seen as inseparable parts of a complex unity. 

The first book of volume 1 presents fleeting moments of a joyous hope that is inevitably dashed: *Auf dieser Hoeh steh ich oft, mein Bellarmin! Aber ein Moment des Besinnens wirft mich herab ... O ein Gott ist der Mensch, wenn er traeumt, ein Bettler, wenn er nachdenkt* (On these heights I stand often, Bellarmin! But a moment of reflection casts me down. O man is a god when he dreams, and a beggar when he thinks). This pattern is repeated in Hyperion's relationship with his mentor Adamas, who introduces him to the world of the ancient Greeks, and especially with his friend Alabanda, who is a political revolutionary. Together, Hyperion and Alabanda aspire to change the world, but their ways soon part, as Hyperion becomes disillusioned with the violence that is inseparable from revolutionary action. He accuses Alabanda of placing too much emphasis on the state, which has but a restrictive and regulatory function and too little on the *unsichtbare Kirche (invisible church) of all-enveloping enthusiasm, which is the only means of comprehensive regeneration. The conclusion of the first book laments the illusory nature of human fulfillment with a consistent hopelessness that is reminiscent of that of Goethe's Werther. It is at this point that the theme of beauty transforms Hyperion's strivings. The encounter with Diotima (narrated in the second book of the first volume) transports him to a realm of experience in which the ideal that is otherwise sought beyond the stars or at the end of time has become reality in the here and now. As such, it is not lost when no longer immediately present, but merely hidden, and can be recovered through the process of memory. Not only the person of Diotima, but also the culture of ancient Athens is an embodiment of the divine in this sense. In this view Athenian culture was a self-realization of divine beauty by virtue of the fact that God and man were ultimately one, and the forms of human self-expression -art,religion, political freedom, and even philosophy- were manifestations of their unity. The principle of *das Eine in sich unterschiedne* (the one that is differentiated within itself), which Hoelderlin adapted from a formulation of Heraclitus, defines at once the essence of the Athenian and the nature of beauty- as opposed to the one-sidedness and fragmentation characteristics of the Egyptians and the Spartans, and, in Hoelderlin's view, also of modern times. 

Thus at the beginning of the second volume Huperion thinks he has found in the Arthenian realization of beauty a model that can be re-created in his own epoch. The belief enables him to take up again the political cause that he had previously rejected. He allies himself once more with Alabanda and participates in the Greek war of liberation against the Turks, hoping to forge a free state as a pantheon of beauty. Such a project is, however, doomed to failure, as the discrepancy between the high ideal and the reality of warfare and violence becomes apparent, and he is forced to recognize that it is folly to entrust a *Raeuberbande* (band of robbers) with the founding of his Elysium. In despair, Hyperion plunges recklessly into battle, where death seems certain. In fact, he is merely wounded, and spends serveral days in a coma. At this stage, Hyperion's relationships with both Alabanda and Diotima, who had represented opposite poles of his being, have undergone radical transformation. Whereas they had previously been dominant influences on him, their essential impulses are now subsumed in Hyperion himself, who combines the activism of the one with the harmony of the other. As a result, both characters recognize that Hyperion has absorbed into himself and thus superseded the essence of their being. Alabanda submits himself to the harsh judgement of the revolutionary confederates that he has betrayed by his association with Hyperion, and Diotima, caught up in Hyperion's passion for change, is fatally estranged from the innocent harmony that she had once embodied. A visit to Germany brings further disappointement, as Hyperion discovers the Germans' total lack of aesthetic sensibility. His *Letter on the Germans* has become a famous example of German cultural self-criticism. 

When he returns to his native land from Germany, Hyperion has returned to the point at which the novel begins. Now, however, his past has become for him the consequence of a necessary interplay of  forces, rather than of a series of isolated setbacks. He is *ruhig* (calm) as he realizes that suffering and death are inseparable from life, and is able through recollection to resolve dissonances into the harmony of song. Diotima's parting words, that he is neither crowned with the laurel wreath of fame nor decorated with the myrtle leaves of love, but that his *dichterische Tage* (poetic days) as priest of nature are now assured, provide a justification for his future poetic vocation that concluded the novel and lays the groundwork for the overriding theme of Hoelderlin's later work. 

From 1798 until 1800 Hoelderlin was in Homburg. There he was befriended by Isaak von Sinclair, who had studied law in Tuebingen and Jena, had been expelled from the University of Jena in 1795 because of his involvement with Jacobin political circles, and was now in the service of the Landgraf (count) of Hesse-Homburg. Hoelderlin called Sinclair his *Herzensfreund (bossom friend) instar omnium* and accompanied him to the Congress of Rastatt in 1798-1799. The theme of the affinity of poet and hero (man of action), which occurs in several of Hoelderlin's poems of this period, reflects his relationship to Sinclair. The ode *An Eduard* (To Eduard) is actually addressed to Sinclair, to whom Hoelderlin later dedicated *Der Rhein* (The Rhine), one of his major poems. While in Homburg, Hoelderlin made every effort to establish himself by his writing. Hoping for recognition from the court, he addressed an ode to the princess (*Der Prinzessin Auguste von Homburg*) and some years later dedicated his translation of Sophocles' tragedies to her; his poem *Patmos*, furthermore, was presented to the Landgraf. Hoelderlin attempted to establish himself in the literary world by founding a journal called *Iduna*, which would contain both original literary works and critical and historical essays; although he solicited the support of several literary figures, including Schiller, Schelling, and Goethe, the response was negligible. Indeed, his isolation and lack of recognition were such that he has become almost a prototype of the poet who fails to regain renown in his own time. 

Hoelderlin's major literary project in Homburg was his verse drama Der Tod des Empedokles (1826; translated as The Death of Empedocles, 1964), on which he had begun work while he was still in Frankfurt am Main. Its theme was taken from a legend of the pre-Socratic naural philosopher Empedocles, who was said to have thrown himself to his death in the volcano Etna. Empedocles is for Hoelderlin the figure of a seer who, endowed with the ability to be the mouthpiece of nature, is, in his attempt to exploit his prophetic gifts, guilty of a hubris that can only be expiated by his return to nature through the act of his freely chosen death. His guilt is the *guilt of language*, which desecrates the divine by articulating it in human words. The play is also the vehicle for Hoelderlin's criticism both of established religion and of political rule, in that the priest Hermokrates and the archon Kritias are cast as opponents who endeavor to have Empedocles expelled and condemned. But in anticipation of his death, which is a spiritual reconsiliation with nature, Empedocles regains the support of his people by articulating the prophetic vision of a coming festival of the gods at which his *einsam Lied* (lonely song) is to become a *Freudenchor* (chorus of joy) uniting the whole people. 

The play is on the one hand an attempt to recreate the tragic drama of the Greeks, on the other a statement of Hoelderlin's position in relation to question of his own time. The declaration *Dies ist die Zeit der Koenige nicht mehr* (This is no longer the time of the Kings), with which Empedocles rejects the crown proffered to him, is an affirmation of the republican principle derived ultimately from the French Revolution. But the problem of establishing an overriding *objective* necessity of Empedocles' death, according to the Greek conception of tragedy, caused Hoelderlin considerable difficulty and led him to recast the play several times. After leaving the (comparatively extensive) first version and a shorter second version incomplete, he set down his reflections in an essay, *Grund zum Empedokles* (translated as *The Ground of Empedocles,* 1985), which attempts to establish that, as Empedocles is a son of his time and of his country and conditioned by a particularly virulent conflict between nature and culture, his death is the means of reconsiciliation of his conflict: He is *ein Opfer seiner Zeit* (a victim of his time), who must be sacrified so that the reconciliation achieved in him as an individual can be carried over into the life of his people. He is in a way a Christ figure, the prophet of a new age of peace that he cannot himself live to see. This conception finds expression in a third version of the play, which, however, also remains unfinished. One of the reasons Hoelderlin abandoned his play, without publishing any of it, may be that he came to see that the prophetic vision of a new age was not really a theme suitable for tragic drama, the quintessentially Greek form, but was more appropriate to the lyric, whose origin is rather the isolation of the individual in a still-godless age. 

It is in the lyric that Hoelderlin was able to express himself most freely at all stages of his literary career. Whereas in Tuebingen he had, until 1792, largely imitated the loose, rhymed forms of Schiller's poetry, he soon turned predominantly to the Classical ode. The ode, as it is understood in German literary history, is not the so-called Pindaric ode cultivated by English Romantic writers, but the Horatian ode, whose basic form is a fourline stanza, unrhymed, with an intricate metrical pattern. It had been adapted to the German language by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and others, and gained in Hoelderlin's work a new level of flexibility, and expressiveness. In contrast to Klopstock, who experimented with many traditional ode forms and even invented new ones, Hoelderlin confined himself almost entirely to the alcaic and the (third) asclepiadeic stanzas. In Frankfurt am Main he had written several short, almost epigrammatic odes, some of which were published in various journals and almanacs, but in the more mature odes written in Homburg he expanded the form to accommodate the full range of his themes. The odes are mostly apostrophes to divine, natural, or heroic beings, elevated in tone, and borne by a conviction to the poet's vocation: *Beruf ist mirs, zu ruehmen Hoehers* (It is my profession to extol higher things). The programmatic ode *Natur und Kunst, oder Saturn und Jupiter* (Nature and Art, or Saturn and Jupiter), for example, calls upon the Olympian god Jupiter, who embodies the rule of law and has banished his own father, the god of the Golden Age, to reinstate the latter and acknowledge his supremacy. In terms of the poem's metaphorical dimension, art must recognize its origin in and indebtedness to nature as the ground of its being. The poem *Der Abschied* (Leave-taking) laments the poet's parting from Diotima, which, anguishing though it is at first, ultimately yields to a poetic recollection of past happiness that transcends the sense of loss. *Der gefesselte Strom* (The Ice-bound Stream) depicts the river that in the spring bursts out of its frozen state to become the harbinger of regeneration, although it must lose itself as it flows into the sea. In this poem (as elsewhere) the river, the demigod of divine birth whose life-bringing sojourn on earth is but a prelude to his return to his origins, is a central image. Several odes -*Dichterberuf* (The Poet's Vocation), *Dichtermut* (The Courage of the Poet), *Der blinde Saenger* (The Blind Singer)- outline the theme of the poetic vocation with its immediacy to the divine and its consequent perils and blessings. An experimental poem written in Pindaric meters, *Wie wenn am Feiertage ...* (As when on a Feast Day ...), presents the situation of the poet in the figure of Semele, who, according to the myth, wished to see Jupiter with her own eyes but was fatally consumed by his radiance, giving birth to Dionysus. Just so should the poet stand bareheaded in the storms of the divine, in order to transmit the sacred fire to other human beings in the form of song. It is characteristic of Hoelderlin's odes of the Homburg period to conclude with an affirmation of poetry. 

During this time he also drafted several essays, which for the most part remained unfinished and were probably not intended for publication in their present form, but which contain the outline of a comprehensive theory of poetry. He was concerned on the one hand to define poetry as the articulation of the *infinite moment* of transcendent experience, and on the other hand to construct a system of poetic genres and forms. The essay *Ueber die Verfahrungsweise des poetischen Geistes* (On the Procedure of the Poetic Spirit) defines the *free choice* of poetic subject matter and the creation of a *Welt in der Welt* (a World in the World) as the only means of attaining self-consciousness. Thus poetry provides the answer to the philosophical question raised by Fichte and becomes for Hoelderlin -as for other Romantic writers of his time the highest expression of the human spirit. By shaping the relationship of the human to the divine, it also in a sense supersedes *positive* religion: *So waere alle Religion ihrem Wesen nach poetisch* (Thus all religion is essentialy poetic), as Hoelderlin asserts in the essay *Ueber Religion* (On Relgion). 

The Romantic* glorification of poetry was balanced by a *Classical* adherence to formal clarity and exactitude. Not only did Hoelderlin write mainly in classical meters, but in addition his whole conception of genres was based on acient Greek literature, with its three great models: Homer for epic poetry, Sophocles for tragedy, and Pindar -*das Summum der Dichtkunst* (the ultimate perfection of poetry),as Hoelderlin had put it while still in Tuebingen- for the lyric. In Hoelderlin's essay *Ueber den Unterschied der Dichtarten* (On the difference of Poetic Genres), each kind of poetry is defined in terms of a basic opposition: the underlying *heroic* impulse of epic poetry is expressed all the more powerfully because of its contrasts with the *naive* concreteness of Homeric language; lyric poetry is *naive* in its origin, in that it speaks with the voice of an individual, but it soars to the expression of a suprasensual, *idealistic* harmony; tragic poetry is grounded in an *idealistic* intellectual perception of the whole, which can only be expressed in the depiction of *heroic* conflict. It is apparent from the use of the terms naive, heroic, and idealistic that Hoelderlin's theory, while based on traditional divisions into genre, is also a self-contained system in the spirit of Idealist thinking. He further proceeds to define poetic structure in terms of the same three tones, which he even sets out as a *Wechsel der Toene* (modulation of tones) in tabular form. The tables also establish an overall structure: by returning to its starting point at a higher level of reflection, the poem effects a dialectical resolution of dissonances. 

In mid 1800 Hoelderlin moved to Stuttgart, where he spent an unusually happy half year with a friend he had first met in Jena, Christian Landauer. He earned some money by giving lessons in philosophy, but soon sought another position as a children's tutor. In January 1801 he accepted a post with the family Gonzenbach in Hauptwil, Switzerland, which he gave up after only three months in order to return to Nuertingen. The exact reason for the termination of his employment is not known, but there are indications that his growing restlessness may have been a first sign of the mental illness that later befell him. His experience of the Swiss landscape left traces in the elegy *Heimkunft* (Homecoming) and other poems. 

At about this time, Hoelderlin composed several lengthy poems in the elegiac form. In the German tradition, the elegy is not just a poem of lamentation, but is written in elegiac couplets (consisting of an alternation of hexameter and pentameter) adapted from Greek and Roman literature. Building upon the work of such predecessors as Goethe and Schiller,who had already adapted this form to the needs of the German language, Hoelderlin was able to render it with consummate mastery. His first elegy, *Menons Klagen um Diotima* (Menon's Lament for Diotima), takes its starting point in the separation of the lovers, but opens into an enthusiastic invocation of a new age of bliss. *Brod und Wein*, perhaps his best known elegy, explores the historical progression from Greek antiquity to the present: the disappearance of the gods from Greece leads to a premonition of their reappearance in present-day Germany, which -in a conflation of the Classical and the Christian traditions centered in Dionysus and Christ respectively- is embodied in the symbols of bread and wine, common to both traditions. The elegies *Stuttgart* and *Heimkunft* take this process further and celebrate German heroes. More and more the elegies, which had begun by turning to the past, shift in emphasis toward the national future. The same applies to the long hexameter poem *Der Archipelagus* (The Archipelago), which celebrates the Greek victory over the Persians but ultimately evokes a development that encompases Greek antiquity and the present day in a single grandiose sequence of the seasons, so that the *koestliche Fruehlingszeit im Griechenlande* (precious spring time of Greece) is due to return the coming autumn in the perfection of maturity. 

The elegies can thus be regarded as an intermediate stage leading to the later hymns, which are perhaps Hoelderlin's most lasting achievement. In 1801 he began a series of poems in free rhythms in the tradition of the *hymn* (in the German sense), for which the obvious model was Pindar -though less in respect to meter (which in Pindar, as Hoelderlin already knew, is closely regulated) than in the overall structure, specifically in the tripartite form that is characteristic of Pindar's poems. Most of Hoelderlin's hymns contain six, nine, twelve, or fifteen stanzas, which are arranged in groups of three in a complex dialectical pattern. From various statements in his letters, it is clear that he regarded this new style -*das hohe und reine Frohlocken vaterlaendischer Gesaenge* (the pure noble jubilation of patriotic songs)- as the attainment of his poetic goal, indeeed as a fusion of nature and history that was previously achieved only in ancient Greece: *die Sangart ueberhaupt wird einen andern Charakter nehmen* (poetry altogether will take on a new character). It should be noted that the *patriotic* element does not so much involve the narrowly German as the modern, *sofern es von dem Griechischen verschieden ist* (insofar as it is distinct from the Greek). Hoelderlin's view of the querelle des anciens et des modernes is one of the more significant variations of this theme, which was so prevalent in the literature of his time. 

The later hymns conform to this conception. The poem *Der Rhein* combines the depiction fo the river as a demigod that bursts its banks in order to transform the divine impulse into fruitful human activity with a reflection on the nature of genius and with a consideration of Rousseau, a problematical figure who in his closeness to the harmony of nature seems no longer to typify the heroic existence, and of Socrates, who retained sobriety when all around him were succumbing. The poem combines the immediate presence of the divine in nature with the timeless transcendence of the spirit in a vast panorama that embraces the whole range of interaction of the human and the divine in a concerted set of images. In *Patmos* the poet is transported to the isle of Patmos, site of the composition of the Gospel of John, which inaugurates a tradition that points from the Orient to the West, from the original revelation of the divine to its transmission in the form of the *fester Buchstabe* (the fixed letter) of biblical tradition. The poem *Friedensfeier* (Festival of Peace), whose final version was not discovered and published until 1953, celebrates a truce in the Napoleonic Wars, but at the same time envisages the coming of a somewhat mysterious *Fuerst des Fests* (Prince of the Feast), who seems to combine elements of Napoleon, Christ, and other figures. But however controversial the question of the identity of Hoelderlin's unnamed figure has remained, it is clear that his coming signals a reconciliation of nature and humanity, a new millenium. In the poem *Der Einzige* (The Unique One) the sweeping overview of the whole philosophical and religious tradition is called into question by what seems to be an irreconcilable conflict between the claims of Christ to a uniqueness that excludes the worship of all other gods (hence the title of the poem), and the mutual mediability of the polytheistic gods -and demigods- of antiquity. If Heracles as the conquering inaugurator and Dionysus as the purveyor of the communal spirit can be regarded as successive stages in the development of human culture, then the Christian claim to uniqueness threatens to disrupt continuity: thus the poem circles incessantly about the theme of comparability of Heracles, Dionysus, and Christ, who ideally should be conceivable as forming a kind of three-leafed clover but whose respective claims tend to caue dissension rather than unity. That the poem remains unfinished, despite having been recast several times, is testimony to the vastness of Hoelderlin's ambition: to reconcile the Greek and Christian traditions in one comprehensive vision, to rewrite mythology, to dissolve the fixity of traditional names in order to recreate them out of their common matrix. More and more, the ambitiousness of Hoelderlin's attempt to present the coming fulfillment as the culmination of European history strained his poetic capacities and led to a continual process of revision which affected several of his poems of this period.

After his return to Nuertingen from Switzerland in April 1801, Hoelderlin had gained provisional consent from the publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta to bring out a collection of his poems. But the project was interrupted (and in effect aborted) by Hoelderlin's decision to take yet another position as privat tutor, this time with the family of D.C. Meyer, German consul in Bordeaux. He set out on foot for Strasbourg in December 1801, arriving in Bordeaux on January 28, 1802. Again, the circumstances of his stay and the reasons for its premature termination remain unclear. He left Bordeaux on May 10 and arrived in Strasbourg in early June, evidently after extensive wanderings that took him by way of Paris. On his arrival in Germany he received the shattering news of the death of Susette Gontard, who had succumbed to an infection she had caught from her children. He arrived home in Nuertingen in a distraught state, and from this time reports of his mental instability increased. 

The poems that Hoelderlin completed after his return show a certain shift, which has often been attributed to a growing doubt in the validity of his prophetic vision. The poem *Andenken* (Rememberance) is clearly influenced by the scenery of Bordeaux; although it culminates in the apparent definitiveness of the often-quoted final verse *Was bleibt aber, stiften die Dichter* (But what lasts is founded by the poets), it is characterized by an uneasy alliance of private rememberance and gnomic utterance that gives it a hauntingly mysterious, not clearly definable tone. The same applies to *Mnemosyne*, in which the theme of the death of Mnemosyne, the muse of memory, suggests that Hoelderlin had reached a breaking point at which the constituent elements of his unifying vision were threatened by disintegration. His later poems, which remain largely unfinished, attempt to incorporate ever more modern figures. 

While his poetic production yielded few tangible results in the form of complete poems at this stage, Hoelderlin turned his attention inreasingly to translations from the Greek, and had his versions of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Antigone published in 1804. His concern, however, was allied to that of his own poetry, in that he wished to make of his translations a kind of reinterpretation that would reestablish continuity between antiquity and the present. Indeed, he expressed the intention of *correcting* the artistic failing of Sophocles, who had underplayed the *Feuer vom Himmel* (fire from heaven) in which the *Oriental* origins of Greek culture are reflected. Hoelderlin's translations are notable in that, despite certain inaccuracies, they convey more of the elemental power of the original than other German translations; they have often been performed on the stage. (The translation of Antigone forms the basis of a play by Berthold Brecht and an opera by Carl Orff.) Hoelderlin elaborated his views in several letters written in 1803 and 1804 to his publisher Friedrich Wilmans, and also in the commentaries that accompany his versions of Sophocles' plays. Here he suggests that Oedipus, who is driven out of his mind by the inability to comprehend his own origins, is the prototype of Greek tragedy, whereas Antigone, who asserts her own independence in defiance of the established order, anticipates the transition from the ancient Greek to the modern. At much the same time, Hoelderlin translated some fragments from Pindar, which he supplied with comments that are less an explanation of Pindar's poems than a rather enigmatic exposition of some of Hoelderlin's own concepts.

A request from the publisher Wilmans to contribute to his almanac for the year 1805 provided Hoelderlin with the opportunity to publish several of his poems. He submitted a group of nine poems that had been written after his return from Bordeaux in 1802 and that he now collected under the title *Nachtgesaenge* (Night Songs). The six odes among them are in the main reworkings of earlier poems which introduce a harsher and more discordant note. The well-known poem *Haelfte des Lebens* (Middle of Life), which contrasts a summer scene of peace and bliss with the windswept emptiness of portending wintry desolation, has often been read as a portrayal of Hoelderlin' recognition of a turning point in his own life. 
 

Mit gelben Birnen haenget 
Und voll mit wilden Rosen 
Das Land in den See, 
Ihr holden Schwaene, 
Und trunken von Kuessen 
Tunkt ihr das Haupt Ins heilignüchterne Wasser. 
Weh mir, wo nehm ich, wenn Es Winter ist,
die Blumen, und wo Den Sonnenschein, 
Und Schatten der Erde? 
Die Mauern stehn Sprachlos und kalt, 
im Winde Klirren die Fahnen.

Following the publication of the Sophocles translations in 1804 and the *Night Songs* in 1805, several other poems by Hoelderlin appeared in print, if not always with his permission: an old friend, Leo von Seckendorf, brought out the poems *Stuttgart* and *Die Wanderung* (The Journey) in his Musenalmanach fuer das Jahr 1807 (Almanac for the Muses for 1807) and other poems -*Der Rhein,* *Patmos,* and *Andenken* (Rememberance) -in the corresponding volume for 1808. But Hoelderlin was able to work only sporadically by this time, and in June 1804 his friend Sinclair took him to Homburg once more and obtained for him a position (more of a sinecure, as Hoelderlin's salary was paid out of Sinclair's pocket) as court librarian. Hoelderlin was further unsettled by events of early 1805, when one Alexander Blankenstein denounced Sinclair for having allegedly conspired against the life of the Elector Friedrich II of Wuerttemberg; Sinclair was accused of high treason and imprisoned for a time before being brought to trial (he was later acquitted), and Hoelderlin was tangentially involved through his association with Sinclair. Although medical testimony to his insanity saved him from having to stand trial, he was deeply disturbed by the whole affair, which also unfavorably affected his friendship with Sinclair. Because the state of Hesse-Homburg was dissolved in 1806, Sinclair could no longer provide for Hoelderlin in Homburg and asked Hoelderlin's mother to take him back. By this time considered quite insane by most people who knew him, Hoelderlin was forcibly removed from Homburg in September 1806 and delivered to the tender mercies of Ferdinand Autenrieth, who ran a clinic in Tuebingen for the mentally ill. (It lies on the bank of the Neckar just above the Hoelderlin Tower, and now houses various university departments.) Autenrieth is best known as the inventor of a face mask named after him, whose function was to prevent patients from screaming, and his treatment of Hoelderlin did little to alleviate the latter's condition. In May 1907 Hoelderlin was released as incurable, with the prognosis of having no more than about three years to live, and given over to the care of the carpenter Ernst Zimmer and his family, who lived just below the clinic. Hoelderlin's room was in a tower by the riverbank, which (after having been burned down and rebuilt) is known as the Hoelderlin Tower and houses the Hoelderlin-Gesellschaft (Hoelderlin Society). 

The three years allotted to Hoelderlin became thirty-six. During that time he was lovingly cared for by the Zimmer family and treated in niggardly fashion by his mother, who, although living close by, did not once visit him and contrived to limit his access to the patrimony due to him. Hoelderlin became an object of some notoriety to students and younger writers. Writers such as Justinus Kerner, Moerike, and Wilhelm Waiblinger have left accounts, with Waiblinger making him the subject of an essay titled Friedrich Hoelderlins Leben, Dichtung und Wahnsinn (Friedrich Hoelderlin's Life, Poetry and Madness, 1947). Although he may have continued to write for a short time in his previous style, most of the poetry that Hoelderlin wrote during this period represents a distinct break: he reverted to simple rhyming four-line stanzas, devoted largely to stereotypical evocations of the seasons and reflections on the human condition, devoid of the intensity and breadth of vision of his earlier work. Many of the poems he distributed to visitors were signed with imaginary names -most often: Scardanelli -and provided with impossible dates. Hoelderlin died peacefully in his sleep on June 7, 1843, at the age of seventy-three. 

Although Hoelderlin achieved comparatively little recognition during his lifetime, and during his final stay in Tuebingen was unable to supervise the publication of his own work, there was some slight local interest in his writings. His novel Hyperion was republished in 1822, and in 1826 Gustav Schwab and Ludwig Uhland brought out an edition of some of the poems. The first edition with any claim to comprehensiveness was prepared by Christoph Theodor Schwab; comprising a larger selection of poetry, some letters, and the *Fragment of Hyperion*, it appeared in 1846. Other editions appeared around the turn of the century, without exciting great resonance. The first real breakthrough occured in the years preceding World War I, when Norbert von Hellingsrath, who as a student in Munich had written a doctoral dissertation on Hoelderlin's translations of Pindar, inaugurated a historial-critical edition. The fourth volume, which appeared in 1916 and for the first time designated the later poems as *Herz, Kern und Gipfel* (heart, core and pinnacle) of Hoelderlin's work, had a sensational impact that established his reputation as a major poet. Several German Expressionist poets -Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Johannes R. Becher, Ernst Stadler- as well as Stefan George and Rainer Maria Rilke felt a close affinity to him. Hoelderlin's prophetic poetry came to be regarded by many as a proclamation for modern times, or as a timeless manifestation of the poetic essence. An influential case is that of the philosopher Martin Heidegger, who in the 1930s, after he had disassociated himself from the National Socialist order that he had at first embraced, turned to the glorification of Hoelderlin. 

After Hellingrath's death in World War I, the edition he had begun was completed by others. The fact that so many poems exist only in heavily reworked but not finally revised manuscripts has made the editing of Hoelderlin's works a test of the editor's craft. The standard critical edition is the Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe (Large Stuttgart Edition), edited by Friedrich Beissner (8 volumes, published from 1943 to 1985), which breaks new ground in its presentation of variant readings; the letters and extensive biographical documents are edited by Adolf Beck. The more recent Frankfurt Edition (to date 13 volumes, the first of which appeared in 1975) includes photocopies of manuscripts; and facsimile collections of manuscripts -the HomburgerFolioheft (1986) and the Stuttgarter Foliobuch (1989)- have also been published in recent years, attesting to Hoelderlin's now-established renown as a poet and thinker of international importance. 

In 1943 the Hoelderlin-Gesellschaft was established in Tuebingen. It is responsible for the Hoelderlin-Jahrbuch (Hoelderlin Yearbook), the 25th volume of which appeared in 1987, and also conducts biennial meetings. The Hoelderlin Archive, which has originals or copies of all extent manuscripts and a comprehensive collection of literature on Hoelderlin, was founded in Tuebingen in 1941; moved to Bebenhausen, near Tuebingen, in 1943; and in 1970 was incorporated into the Wuerttembergische Landesbibliothek (Wuerttemberg State Library in Stuttgart. 
 


Books: 

Hyperion oder Der Eremit in Griechenland, 2 volumes (Tuebingen: Cotta, 1797-1799); translated by Willard R. Trask as Hyperion; or, The Hermit in Greece (New York: Ungar, 1965); facsimile edition of German version (Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1979); 

Gedichte, edited by Gustav Schwab and Ludwig Uhland (Stuttgart & Tuebingen: Cotta, 1826) -includes Der Tod des Empedokles, translated by Michael Hamburger als The Death of Empedocles, Quarterly Review of Literature, 13 (1964): 93-121: 

Saemtliche Werke, edited by Christoph Theodor Schwab, 2 volumes (Stuttgart & Tuebingen: Cotta, 1846); 

Saemtliche Werke: Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, edited by Norbert von Hellingrath, Friedrich Seebass, and Ludwig von Pigenot, 6 volumes (volumes 1,4,5, Munich and Leipzig: Mueller; volumes 2,3,6, Berlin: Propylaen, 1913-1923); 

Saemtliche Werke, edited by Friedrich Beissner and Adolf Beck, 8 volumes (Stuttgart: Cotta/Kohlhammer, 1943-1985); 

Saemtliche Werke und Briefe, edited by Guenther Mieth, 2 volumes (Munich: Hanser, 1970); 

Saemtliche Werke: Frankfurter Ausgabe, edited by Dietrich Sattler, 13 volumes to date (Frankfurt am Main: Roter Stern, 1975- ); 

Homburger Folioheft, facsimile edition, edited by Sattler and Emery E. George (Basel: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1986); 

Stuttgarter Foliobuch, facsimile edition, edited by Sattler (Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1989); 

Bevestigter Gesang: Die neu zu entdeckende hymnische Spaetdihtung bis 1806, fasimile edition, edited by Dietrich Uffhausen (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1989). 

Editions in English: 

Poems and Fragments, translated and edited by Michael Hamburger (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1967; 2nd enlarged edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980); 

Hyperion; Thalia Fragment, 1794, translated and edited by Karl W. Maurer (Winnipeg: Hoelderlin Society, 1968); 

Friedrich Hoelderlin, Eduard Moerike: Selected Poems, translated by Christopher Middleton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); 

*On Tragedy: Notes on the Oedipus; Notes on the Antigone,* translated by Jeremy Adler, Comparative Criticism, 5 (1983): 205-244; 

*Philosophical Archaeology: Hoelderlin's Pindar Fragments,* translated, with an interpretation, by Adler, ComparativeCriticism, 6 (1984): 23-46; 

Hymns and Fragments, translated by Richard Sieburth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); 

*On Tragedy, Part 2: *The Ground of Empedocles*; On the Process of Becoming in Passing Away,* translated by Adler, Comparative Criticism, 7 (1985): 147-173; 

Selected Verse, edited and translated by Hamburger (London & Dover, N.H.: Anvil Press, 1986); 

Essays and Letters on Theory, translated and edited by Thomas Pfau (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988). 

Other:

Die Trauerspiele des Sophokles, translated by Hoelderlin, 2 volumes (Frankfurt am Main: Wilmans, 1804) -comprises volume 1, Oedipus der Tyrann; volume 2, Antigonae; facsimile edition (Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1986); 

*On the Process of the Poetic Mind,* translated by Ralph R. Read in German Romantic Criticism, edited by A Leslie Willson (New York: Continuum, 1982), pp. 219-237. 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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