1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tieck, Johann Ludwig
TIECK, JOHANN LUDWIG (1773–1853), German poet, novelist and critic, was born in Berlin on the 31st of May 1773, his father being a rope-maker. He was educated at the Friedrich-Werdersche Gymnasium, and at the universities of Halle, Göttingen and Erlangen. At Göttingen Shakespeare and the Elizabethan drama were the chief subjects of his study. In 1794 he returned to Berlin, resolved to make a living by his pen. He contributed a number of short stories (1795–1798) to the series of Straussfedern, published by the bookseller C. F. Nicolai and originally edited by J. K. A. Musäus, and wrote Abdallah (1796) and a novel in letters, William Lovell (3 vols. 1795–1796). These works are, however, immature and sensational in tone. Tieck’s transition to romanticism is to be seen in the series of plays and stories published under the title Volksmärchen von Peter Lebrecht (3 vols., 1797), a collection which contains the admirable fairy-tale Der blonde Eckbert, and the witty dramatic satire on Berlin literary taste, Der gestiefelte Kater. With his school and college friend W. H. Wackenroder (1773–1798), he planned the novel Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (vols. i–ii. 1798), which, with Wackenroder’s Herzensergiessungen (1798), was the first expression of the romantic enthusiasm for old German art. In 1798 Tieck married and in the following year settled in Jena, where he, the two brothers Schlegel and Novalis were the leaders of the new Romantic school. His writings between 1798 and 1804 include the satirical drama, Prinz Zerbino (1799), and Romantische Dichtungen (2 vols., 1799–1800). The latter contains Tieck’s most ambitious dramatic poems, Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva, Leben und Tod des kleinen Rotkäppchens, which were followed in 1804 by the remarkable “comedy” in two parts, Kaiser Oktavianus. These dramas, in which Tieck’s poetic powers are to be seen at their best, are typical plays of the first Romantic school; although formless, and destitute of dramatic qualities, they show the influence of both Calderon and Shakespeare. Kaiser Oktavianus is a poetic glorification of the middle ages.
In 1801 Tieck went to Dresden, then lived for a time near Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and spent many months in Italy. In 1803 he published a translation of Minnelieder aus der schwabischen Vorzeit, between 1799 and 1804 an excellent version of Don Quixote, and in 1811 two volumes of Elizabethan dramas, Altenglisches Theater. In 1812–1817 he collected in three volumes a number of his earlier stories and dramas, under the title Phantasus. In this collection appeared the stories Der Runenberg, Die Elfen, Der Pokal, and the dramatic fairy tale, Fortunat. In 1817 Tieck visited England in order to collect materials for a work on Shakespeare (unfortunately never finished) and in 1819 he settled permanently in Dresden; from 1825 on he was literary adviser to the Court Theatre, and his semi-public readings from the dramatic poets gave him a reputation which extended far beyond the Saxon capital. The new series of short stories which he began to publish in 1822 also won him a wide popularity. Notable among these are Die Gemälde, Die Reisenden, Die Verlobung, Des Lebens Überfluss. More ambitious and on a wider canvas are the historical or semi-historical novels, Dichterleben (1826), Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen (1826, unfinished), Der Tod des Dichters (1834); Der junge Tischlermeister (1836; but begun in 1811) is an excellent story written under the influence of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister; Vittoria Accorombona (1840), in the style of the French Romanticists, shows a falling-off. In later years Tieck carried on a varied literary activity as critic (Dramaturgische Blätter, 2 vols., 1825–1826; Kritische Schriften, 2 vols., 1848); he also edited the translation of Shakespeare by A. W. Schlegel, who was assisted by Tieck’s daughter Dorothea (1799–1841) and by Graf Wolf Heinrich Baudissin (1789–1878); Shakespeares Vorschule (2 vols., 1823–1829); the works of H. von Kleist (1826) and of J. M. R. Lenz (1828). In 1841 Friedrich Wilhelm IV. of Prussia invited him to Berlin where he enjoyed a pension for his remaining years. He died on the 28th of April 1853.
Tieck’s importance lay rather in the readiness with which he adapted himself to the new ideas which arose at the close of the 18th century, than in any conspicuous originality or genius. His importance as an immediate force in German poetry is restricted to his early period. In later years it was as the helpful friend and adviser of others, or as the well-read critic of wide sympathies, that Tieck distinguished himself.
Tieck’s Schriften appeared in 20 vols. (1828–1846), and his Gesammelte Novellen in 12 (1852–1854). Nachgelassene Schriften were published in 2 vols. in 1855. There are several modern editions of Ausgewählte Werke by H. Welti (8 vols., 1886–1888); by J. Minor (in Kürschner’s Deutsche Nationalliteratur, 144, 2 vols., 1885); by G. Klee (with an excellent biography, 3 vols., 1892), and G. Witkowski (4 vols., 1903). The Elves and The Goblet were translated by Carlyle in German Romance (1827), The Pictures and The Betrothal by Bishop Thirlwall (1825). A translation of Vittoria Accorombona was published in 1845. Tieck’s Letters have not yet been collected, but Briefe an Tieck were published in 4 vols. by K. von Holtei in 1864. See for Tieck’s earlier life R. Köpke, Ludwig Tieck (2 vols., 1855); for the Dresden period, H. von Friesen, Ludwig Tieck: Erinnerungen (2 vols., 1871); also A. Stern, Ludwig Tieck in Dresden (Zur Literatur der Gegenwart, 1879); J. Minor, Tieck als Novellendichter (1884); B. Steiner, L. Tieck und die Volksbücher (1893); H. Bischof, Tieck als Dramaturg (1897); W. Miessner, Tiecks Lyrik (1902).