“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

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). 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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