The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Arnim, Ludwig Achim von

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The American Cyclopædia
Arnim, Ludwig Achim von
Edition of 1879. See also Achim von Arnim, Bettina von Arnim and Gisela von Arnim on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ARNIM. I. Ludwig Achim (Joachim) von, a German poet, one of the leaders of the “romantic school” in German literature, born in Berlin, Jan. 26, 1781, died at his estate Wiepersdorf, near Dahme, Jan. 21, 1831. He devoted himself in his youth to scientific studies, but even in these his researches were of a fantastic nature, and showed the tendency of his mind, which soon exhibited much of its singular originality in the earliest of his literary works, Ariel's Offenbarungen (Göttingen, 1804). Soon after the publication of this book he travelled in Germany, studying the habits of the common people, and tracing to their sources the current folk songs and legends. Of the almost forgotten beauties found among these popular ballads and tales he made excellent use in several of his works which appeared soon after — the principal portions of Des Knaben Wunderhorn (3 vols., Heidelberg, 1806-'8; 2d ed., 1819); Wintergarten, eine Sammlung von Novellen (Berlin, 1809); Armuth, Reichthum, Schuld und Busse der Gräfin Dolores (2 vols., Berlin, 1810); Halle und Jerusalem, Studentenspiel und Pilgerabenteuer (Heidelberg, 1811); and the Schaubühne (Berlin, 1813). In 1811 he married Elisabeth Brentano, afterward celebrated as Bettina von Arnim. During the years of Napoleon's rule in Germany, Von Arnim was among the patriots who strove most energetically to arouse his countrymen against the conqueror's despotism. The years of the war brought financial trouble upon him, and he wrote but little for a considerable time. That difficulty over, he again appeared in literature and published several works, of which Die Kronenwächter, oder Berthold's erstes und zweites Leben, was the chief. His complete works were published by Grimm, in 19 volumes (Berlin, 1839-'46). II. Elisabeth von, best known as Bettina, wife of the preceding, and sister of the poet Clemens Brentano, born in Frankfort-on-the-Main, April 4, 1785, died in Berlin, Jan. 20, 1859. Her education was little guided by her friends, and its entire freedom from conventional rules probably exaggerated the eccentricities which she began at an early age to display. A part of her youth was spent in a convent, a part in Offenbach and Marburg but Frankfort was her favorite home. She formed a friendship with a canoness, Fraulein Günderode, who exerted over her naturally fantastic habits of thought a most unhealthy influence; the two friends acknowledged only a singularly fanciful worship of nature, and natural impulses, laws, and methods of life; a dreamy brooding over this and the “tyranny” of conventionalities soon grew into almost a mental disease. Fräulein Günderode committed suicide on account of an unhappy passion for the philologist Creuzer, and this event still further affected Bettina's morbid current of thought. Soon after her friend's death she entered into correspondence with Goethe, for whom she contracted a fantastic love. The poet, now nearly 60 years of age, treated this as a child's whim, and, without encouraging, still did not repel it, though he in no way returned her feeling. The outgrowth of their singular correspondence was Bettina von Arnim's book Goethe's Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde (3 vols., Berlin, 1835), a record since proved to be so full of falsifications, distortions, and affectations as to be worth little save as a record of its author's egotism and eccentricity. (See Lewes's “Life of Goethe.”) She herself translated the work into English. After her marriage to Achim von Arnim in 1811, she lived in Berlin, where her mind took a healthier tone from her active charity and from the absence of her former surroundings. In 1840 portions of her correspondence with her old friend the canoness were published under the title Die Günderode (partly translated into English by Margaret Fuller). Her house was a well known rendezvous of the most famous literary characters of the day, among whom she was known only as “Bettina” even in her old age. Her noteworthy works besides those mentioned above were: Dies Buch gehört dem Könige (2 vols., Berlin, 1848); Ilius Pamphilius und die Ambrosia (2 vols., 1848); Gespräche mit Dämonen (1852). In analyzing Bettina's character, it is difficult to determine how much of her eccentricity is attributable to her actual peculiarities, and how much to a morbid egotism and affectation, largely influenced by the opinions of the unsettled and disorganized time in which she lived. III. Gisela von, daughter of the preceding, and wife of Hermann Grimm, has become known as a writer by her Dramatische Werke, published two years before her mother's death (2 vols., Bonn, 1857).