Holderlin, Kleist, and Nietsche: The Struggle with the Daemon Master Builders of the Spirit

Overview

This is the second volume in a trilogy in which Stefan Zweig builds a composite picture of the European mind through intellectual portraits selected from among its most representative and influential figures. In Hölderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche, Zweig concentrates on three giants of German literature to portray the artist and thinker as a figure possessed by a powerful inner vision at odds with the materialism and scientific positivism of his time, in this case, the nineteenth ...

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Overview

This is the second volume in a trilogy in which Stefan Zweig builds a composite picture of the European mind through intellectual portraits selected from among its most representative and influential figures. In Hölderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche, Zweig concentrates on three giants of German literature to portray the artist and thinker as a figure possessed by a powerful inner vision at odds with the materialism and scientific positivism of his time, in this case, the nineteenth century.

Zweig’s subjects here are respectively a lyric poet, a dramatist and writer of novellas, and a philosopher. Each led an unstable life ending in madness and/or suicide and not until the twentieth century did each make their full impact. Whereas the nineteenth-century novel is socially capacious in terms of subject and audience, the three figures treated here are prophets or forerunners of modernist ideas of alienation and exile. Hölderlin and Kleist consciously opposed the worldly harmoniousness of Goethe’s classicism in favor of a visionary inwardness and dramatization of the subjective psyche. Nietzsche set himself as a destroyer and rebuilder of philosophy and critic of the degradation of the German spirit through nationalism and militarism.

Zweig’s choice of subjects reflects a division in his own soul. The image of Goethe recurs here as the ultimate upholder of Zweig’s own ideals: scientist and artist, receptive to world culture, supremely rational and prudent. Yet Zweig was aware that Hölderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche were more daring explorers of the dangerous and destructive aspects of man that needed to be seen and comprehended in the clarifying light of poetry and philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“These studies are marked by unfailing clarity and insight.” —The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412811354
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/8/2010
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was an outstanding Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer whose work became very popular in the US, South America, and Europe especially between the 1920s and 1930s. In 1904 he earned his doctorate degree in philosophy at the University of Vienna. Throughout his life he remained a pacifist, and instead of becoming a soldier at the start of World War I, he worked in the Archives of the Ministry of War. He became friends with notable people in history, including Romain Rolland, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schitzler. Among his most famous writings are Beware of Pity, Chess Story, and his memoir The World of Yesterday. Laurence Mintz is an independent scholar and visual artist. He was senior editor at Transaction Publishers for more than fifteen years. His main area of interest is in European cultural studies.

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