“Motto” for Jean Paul’s Novel DIE UNSICHTBARE LOGE (The Invisible Lodge)

Der Mensch ist der große Gedankenstrich im Buche der Nature (Auswahl aus des Teufels Papieren)

A human is the great hyphen in Nature’s book (Excerpt from the Devil’s Papers)

p.s. After making that translation, I thought again about the wordplay in the German Gedankenstrich, which means, literally, thought-dash. Jean Paul is playing, I think, with the contrast between thought (one of the things that make us human) and nature. My translation didn’t even hint at the joke. This, by the way, may be one reason Jean Paul is not read much in translation.

About Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to “Motto” for Jean Paul’s Novel DIE UNSICHTBARE LOGE (The Invisible Lodge)

  1. flowerville says:

    i found this by coincidence the other day. not nature, but landscape… will be interesting to observe when i start reading JP.

    Es ist interessant eine Parallele zu ziehen zwischen Jean Pauls Titan und der Corinna der Frau von Stael. Beide scheinen von einem Plan ausgegangen zu sein (Jean Paul versteht sich nur im Anfange seines Werkes). Beide suchen die Beschreibung von Italien dadurch, daß sie es wie eine Landschaft mit handelnden Personen staffieren zu heben, aber wie verschieden ist der Erfolg! Indeß die Landschaft bei Jean Paul stets im Hintergrund bleibt, verschlingt sie in der Corinna die Figuren. — Grillparzer 1816


    • Scott Abbott says:

      nice! and it reminds me that i have conflated two novels — Titan, which i read as one of a dozen bildungsromane of the time, and Die unsichtbare Loge, which i read as one of a dozen geheimbundromane of the time. so you’ll find a man confused by fichte, but not a secret society.


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