The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hardenberg, Friedrich Leopold, Freiherr von
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Hardenberg, Friedrich Leopold, Freiherr von
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|Edition of 1920. See also Novalis on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
HARDENBERG, Friedrich Leopold, Freiherr von, better known as ‘Novalis’ (Latin, new land, from the name of a family estate), German author and hymnologist: b. Oberwiederstedt, Prussian Saxony, 2 May 1772; d. Weissenfels, 25 March 1801. With the Schlegels and Tieck, he was one of the founders of the German Romantic School, of which his hymns and fragmentary novels are characteristic products. Idealistic, and based on distinctive views of philosophy, mathematics, art and the sciences they contain a singular mixture of imagination, sensibility, religion and mysticism, tinged by gentle and amiable enthusiasm. But due to his early death from consumption, they do not form a compact philosphy of life. The best of his hymns ‘Though all to Thee were faithless,’ ‘If only He is mine’ and ‘Hymn to Night’ are beautiful, breathing a feeling of isolation and melancholy as to the ultimate attainment of actual good in the world, which was caused, doubtless, by the death of his betrothed, Sophie von Kühn in 1797, and his state of health which prevented the consummation of a second engagement in marriage. This is perhaps best exemplified in ‘Die Lehrlinge zu Sais’ in which immortalizing as the “Meister” Werner, his instructor in ecology at Freiburg, he theorizes the secret of life as “the fulfilled longing of a loving heart.” The best of his prose writings which Carlyle recommended for “perusal and reperusal” is the unfinished novel ‘Heinrich von Ofterdingen’ in which the quest of the “blue flower,” the symbol of Romanticism, is a poetical allegory marked by excellent narrative, interspersed with beautiful verse. Hardenberg's parents were Moravians, which probably accounted for his mystic religious tendencies. At Jena, Leipzig, Wittenberg and Tennstadt he was thoroughly grounded in mathematics, natural science, philosophy and law, and became distinguished for his poetical talents. Becoming auditor of the government salt-works in Weissenfels of which his father was director, he later studied geology at the mining academy of Freiberg, Saxony. He was appointed “Amtshauptmann” magistrate in Thuringia in 1800, but death the following year ended a career full of high promise. His works, collected by the Schlegels, were issued in two volumes, and several times re-edited, appeared with a third volume in 1846. Recent editions are Meisner, C, and Wille, B., (1898); Heilbron, E., (3 vols., 1901); Minor, J., (3 vols., Jena 1907); Boelsche (4 vols., Leiprig 1908); Schmidt, J., 'Heinrich von Ofterdingen' (published separately 1876); Raich, J. M., ‘Novalis' Correspondence’ (1880). Consult Carlyle, T., ‘Novalis’ (in ‘Critical and Miscellaneous Essays,’ Edinburgh ed., New York 1903); Maeterlinck, M., ‘Novalis’ (in ‘On Emerson and Other Essays,’ New York 1912); Haym, R., ‘Friedrich von Hardenberg’ (2d ed., Gotha 1883); Busse, C., ‘Novalis' Lyrik’ (1898); Bing, J., ‘Friedrich von Hardenberg’ (Berlin 1901); Heilbron, E., ‘Novalis der Romantiker’ (Berlin 1901); Huch, R., ‘Die Romantik’ (4th ed.. Leipzig 1911).