The Novices of Sais: With illustrations by Paul Klee

Overview

The Novices of Sais is a Romantic meld of poetry, philosophy, and transcendental journey. Revolutionary yet profoundly simple at once, Novalis’ reverence for the natural world pours out of every page. Translated into French in 1925, it was embraced by artists and poets alike and is often quoted by the Surrealists. Paul Klee’s drawings were inspired by this visionary exploration of the inner life of modern humankind.
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Overview

The Novices of Sais is a Romantic meld of poetry, philosophy, and transcendental journey. Revolutionary yet profoundly simple at once, Novalis’ reverence for the natural world pours out of every page. Translated into French in 1925, it was embraced by artists and poets alike and is often quoted by the Surrealists. Paul Klee’s drawings were inspired by this visionary exploration of the inner life of modern humankind.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Novices of Sais is a kaleidoscope of interpretations, visions and allegories of nature . . . a transfiguration of the commonplace, giving "the ordinary a mysterious countenance, the known the dignity of the unknown. —Ross Benjamin, The Nation

There are two poets at work in the body of this mysterious and transporting book, one using language, the other line. And what an intriguing, epoch-spanning duet they form . . . Klee’s complex, lovely, whimsical, and enigmatic drawings evince a profound affinity for Novalis and add dimension to the intricate text, while Novalis’s fable provides a provocative context for Klee’s images. —Donna Seaman, Speakeasy

In his brief 29 years on earth, Novalis asked the questions heard in age- old mystery schools and his poems and poetic thinking lifted the inner life of the modern soul to new dominions. He is a founding spirit for the works of the likes of Rilke, Hesse, Heidegger and Celan, among many others, and this grand meditation on Nature reveals him at his finest. —Jack Hirschman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780974968056
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 6/13/2005
  • Pages: 129
  • Sales rank: 1,012,225
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) is one of the great pillars of German Romanticism. He is perhaps best known for his volume of poetry Hymns to the Night and his novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen —where his elusive "blue flower" was planted. He died at the age of 29 in 1801. Ralph Manheim was one of the great translators of the 20th century. He translated the works of Günter Grass, Bertolt Brecht, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and Hermann Hesse, among others. The PEN/ Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation is a major lifetime achievement award in the field of translation.
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Read an Excerpt

Various are the roads of man. He who follows and compares them will see strange figures emerge, figures which seem to belong to that great cipher which we discern written everywhere, in wings, eggshells, clouds and snow, in crystals and in stone formations, on ice-covered waters, on the inside and outside of mountains, of plants, beasts and men, in the lights of heaven, on scored disks of pitch or glass or in iron filings round a magnet, and in strange conjunctures of chance. In them we sus- pect a key to the magic writing, even a grammar, but our surmise takes on no definite forms and seems unwilling to become a higher key. It is as though an alkahest had been poured over the senses of man. Only at moments do their desires and thoughts seem to solidify. Thus arise their presentiments, but after a short time everything swims again be- fore their eyes.
I heard a voice say from afar that the incomprehensible is solely the result of incomprehension, which seeks what it has and therefore can never make further discoveries. We do not understand speech, because speech does not understand itself, nor wish to; the true Sanskrit would speak in order to speak, because speech is its delight and essence.
A little later, there was one who said: "The holy scripture needs no explanation. He who speaks true, is full of eternal life, his written word seems wondrously akin to the mysteries, for it is a chord taken from the symphony of the universe."
Surely the voice was speaking of our teacher, for he knows how to gather together the traits that are scattered everywhere. A unique light is kindled in his eyes when he lays down the sacred rune before us and peers into our eyes to see whether in us the light is risen that makes the figure visible and intelligible. If he sees that we are sorrowful because the night does not recede, he comforts us and promises future happiness to the assiduous, faithful seer.
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