The great poet and polymath Friedrich von Hardenberg, kwn as Novalis, was long seen as representing a particular brand of German Romanticism, embodying a predilection for the mystical and the irrational and a longing for death. Yet 20th-century scholars debunked that myth and arrived at a view of the poet as one who produced a unified, precociously modern body of work in which human systems of individual and collective being as well as kwledge and its disciplines exist as fictional structures, as represented possibility rather than fixed truth. As such, all being and kwledge could and should be subjected to the ironic play of Romantic poetry, which sought to renew the individual and the world it inhabited. Hardenberg's work has come in for particular criticism for idealizing women, thus denying the living, expressive female subject; the conservative social roles it ascribes to women are also cited. Although more recent critics have discerned an empowered female subject in Novalis, this is the first balanced, book-length study of gender in Novalis in English. It concludes that Hardenberg's Romantic writing began to be successful in reinventing the fiction of female identity, and goes further to reveal his extensive interaction with women as intellectual equals. James R. Hodkinson is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Warwick, UK.
James R. Hodkinson is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Warwick, UK.
Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Date of Publication
Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture