Types of Weltschmerz in German Poetry

Types of Weltschmerz in German Poetry

by Wilhelm Alfred Braun


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789352978236
Publisher: Alpha Editions
Publication date: 10/17/2018
Pages: 102
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.24(d)

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CHAPTER IV Heine Heine was probably the first German writer to use the term Weltschmerz in its present sense. Breitinger in his essay "Neues iiber den alten Weltschmerz"1 endeavors to trace the earliest use of the word and finds an instance of it in Julian Schmidt's "Geschichte der Romantik,"2 1847. He seems to have entirely overlooked Heine's use of the word in his discussion of Delaroche's painting "Oliver Cromwell before the body of Charles I." (1831)." The actual inventor of the compound was no doubt Jean Paul, who wrote (1810) : "Diesen Weltschmerz kann er (Gott) sozusagen nur aushalten durch den Anblick der Seligkeit, die nachher vergutet."4 But although Heine may have been the first to adapt the word to its present use, and although we have fallen into the habit of thinking of him as the chief representative of German Weltschmerz, it must be admitted that there is much less genuine Weltschmerz to be found in his poems than in those of either Holderlin or Lenau. The reason for this has already been briefly indicated in the preceding chapter. Holderlin's Weltschmerz is altogether the most naive of the three; Lenau's, while it still remains sincere, becomes self-conscious, while Heine has an unfailing antidote for profound feeling in his merciless self-irony. And yet his condition in life was such as would have wrung from the heart of almost any other poet notes of sincerest pathos. In Lenau's case we noted circumstances which point to adirect transmission from parent to child of a predisposition to melancholia. In Heine's, on the other hand, the question of heredity has apparently only an indirect bearing upon his Weltschmerz. To what extent was his long and terribledisease of hereditary origin, and in what measure may we ascribe his Weltschmerz to the sufferings...

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