The New International Encyclopædia/Novalis

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NOVALIS, nṓ-vä'lĭs (Lat., fallow land). A name assumed by Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801), a German romantic author, once of cosmopolitan renown. He was born in Prussian Saxony. His parents were Moravians, and he was much influenced by that mystic religion. He studied at Jena, Leipzig, and Wittenberg, and in 1794 went to Tennstädt to further his legal training. There he fell in love with a delicate thirteen-year-old girl, who died as his betrothed in 1797. Novalis was then auditor at the Weissenfels salt works. He thought he was a blighted being, but presently he went to Freiburg to continue technical studies and became again betrothed. He returned to Weissenfels in 1799, but was obliged by disease of the lungs to postpone his marriage and died in 1801. His writings were soon collected by the Sehlegels and issued in two volumes, often reëdited, with a third volume in 1846. They are mainly fragmentary. Noteworthy among them is an unfinished romance, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, the mawkish Knight of the Blue Flower Poesy, whose ‘apotheosis’ Novalis tells us he intended the novel to be. Carlyle recommended its ‘persual and reperusal.’ Individual passages in it are charming, and good lyrics are interspersed in the narrative. Earlier in time than Ofterdingen is a romance, Die Lehrlinge zu Sais, wherein the ‘Disciples’ discover that ‘the secret of Nature is nothing else than the fulfilled longing of a loving heart.’ Famous also in their way are the Hymnen an die Nacht, sentimentally morbid musings on his quickly consoled bereavement, mingled with impressions of Young's Night Thoughts and Fichte's lectures at Jena. Some of the fragments are political and reveal an exaltation of patriotic idealism. Other fragments deal with natural science in the same dreamy spirit. His religious lyrics have an emotional tenderness and a nebulous charm. The rest of his work is all but forgotten. Consult: Haym, Friedrich von Hardenberg (2d ed., Gotha, 1883); id., Die romantische Schule (Berlin, 1870).