German Romanticism

Preparing for my fall seminar on German Romanticism, I pulled this volume from my shelf and marveled again to have a physical connection to German writers and their thought. Like my own skin, the paper is spotting and wrinkling. Early 18th-century molecules rise from the pages and enter my nose.


In his comments about part two of his Phantasus, Ludwig Tieck invites me, his reader, into the close-knit world of the writers he knew and the work he was doing.

I was in the process of republishing the old German novel Simplicismus, he writes, and sent out the poem from it as a sample. No plagiarism meant, I just wanted people to know about the amazing book.

Goethe challenged me, Tieck continues, to develop part of the poem for the Weimar stage, but I couldn’t bring myself to separate one part of the poem from the other. . . .

The little piece “The Final Judgment,” was written in 1799 in Jena, Tieck notes. Schelling had just transformed the pitiful local literary organ into an incisive and insightful journal. Jean Paul, with whom I had always enjoyed friendly relations, never begrudged me the little joke. He recognized my respect for his genial humor and sensed my love. . . .

And the short caricature (Charakteristik) by Friedrich Schlegel (in the fragments of the Athenaeum) . . .

Intimate relationships (sometimes too intimate for the comfort of some involved) and a brilliant movement.


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
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