The Greatest Literary Works

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Biography of William Faulkner

Written by eastern writer on Monday, August 27, 2007

William Faulkner (1897-1962), who came from an old southern family, grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. He joined the Canadian, and later the British, Royal Air Force during the First World War, studied for a while at the University of Mississippi, and temporarily worked for a New York bookstore and a New Orleans newspaper. Except for some trips to Europe and Asia, and a few brief stays in Hollywood as a scriptwriter, he worked on his novels and short stories on a farm in Oxford.

In an attempt to create a saga of his own, Faulkner has invented a host of characters typical of the historical growth and subsequent decadence of the South. The human drama in Faulkner's novels is then built on the model of the actual, historical drama extending over almost a century and a half Each story and each novel contributes to the construction of a whole, which is the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County and its inhabitants. Their theme is the decay of the old South, as represented by the Sartoris and Compson families, and the emergence of ruthless and brash newcomers, the Snopeses. Theme and technique - the distortion of time through the use of the inner monologue are fused particularly successfully in The Sound and the Fury (1929), the downfall of the Compson family seen through the minds of several characters. The novel Sanctuary (1931) is about the degeneration of Temple Drake, a young girl from a distinguished southern family. Its sequel, Requiem For A Nun (1951), written partly as a drama, centered on the courtroom trial of a Negro woman who had once been a party to Temple Drake's debauchery. In Light in August (1932), prejudice is shown to be most destructive when it is internalized, as in Joe Christmas, who believes, though there is no proof of it, that one of his parents was a Negro. The theme of racial prejudice is brought up again in Absalom, Absalom! (1936), in which a young man is rejected by his father and brother because of his mixed blood. Faulkner's most outspoken moral evaluation of the relationship and the problems between Negroes and whites is to be found in Intruder In the Dust (1948).

In 1940, Faulkner published the first volume of the Snopes trilogy, The Hamlet, to be followed by two volumes, The Town (1957) and The Mansion (1959), all of them tracing the rise of the insidious Snopes family to positions of power and wealth in the community. The reivers, his last - and most humorous - work, with great many similarities to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, appeared in 1962, the year of Faulkner's death.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

This autobiography/biography was first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

William Faulkner died on July 6, 1962.

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Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse: Analogies and Congruences

Written by eastern writer on Monday, August 27, 2007

Hermann Hesse was strongly influenced by Dostoevsky's artistic method, especially by his treatment of the fragmentation of the human personality and his portrayal of the decaying West. Their novels depict the tragedy of intellect - man's problematic exist-ence taking place amidst the silent loneliness and disharmony characteristic of a diseased city, of modern culture, civilization, philosophy, and industrialization. Both writers believed that a "new man" would replace that educated individual whose reason cannot free itself from the problems and dilemmas it creates. This "new man" would unite Europe and Russia into one organic whole by revealing the nature of true, "active" love. Dostoevsky and Hesse insisted that salvation could be attained only through inner struggle and profound suffering. In their respective works, ey portrayed a progression from a state of internal chaos to the realization of the many polarities existing in man, culminating in a spiritual metamorphosis through man's acceptance of his chaotic nature. The belief in an ultimate unity and harmony underlies the philosophies of both Dostoevsky and Hesse. It is toward this harmonious totality of all things and beings that man must always strive. Dostoevsky and Hesse considered it their responsibility to point to this ideal realm as the only way out of the spiritual and emotional impasse characteristic of their times, when traditional concepts and old beliefs and values were rejected. Both writers ardently advocated the advent of the Third Kingdom of the Spirit, in which all nations would form one family, perfect harmony would be established, and all concepts of good and evil would dis- appear of their own accord.

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Biography of Hermann Hesse

Written by eastern writer on Monday, August 27, 2007

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was born into a family of Pietist missionaries and religious publishers in the Black Forest town of Calw, in the German state of Wüttenberg. Johannes Hesse, his father, was born a Russian citizen in Weissenstein, Estonia. Hesse's mother, Marie Gundert, was born in Talatscheri, India, as the daughter of the Pietist missionary and Indologist, Hermann Gundert. His parents expected him to follow the family tradition in theology - they had served as missionaries in India. Hesse entered the Protestant seminary at Maulbronn in 1891, but he was expelled from the school. After unhappy experiences at a secular school, Hesse left his studies. He worked a bookshop clerk, a mechanic, and a book dealer in Tübingen, where he joined literary circle called Le Petit Cénacle. During this period Hesse read voluminously and determined the become a writer. In 1899 Hesse published his first works, ROMANTISCHE LIEDER and EINE STUNDE HINTER MITTERNACHT.

Hesse became a freelance writer in 1904 after the publication of his novel PETER CAMENZIND. In the Rousseauesque 'return to nature' story the protagonist leaves the big city to live like Saint Francis of Assisi. The book gained literary success and Hesse married Maria Bernoulli, with whom he had three children. A visit in India in 1911 was a disappointment but it gave start to Hesse's studies of Eastern religions and the novel SIDDHARTHA (1922). In the story, based on the early life of Gautama Buddha, a Brahman son rebels against his father's teaching and traditions. Eventually he finds the ultimate enlightenment. The culture of ancient Hindu and the ancient Chinese had a great influence on Hesse's works. For several years in the mid-1910s Hesse underwent psychoanalysis under Carl Jung's assistant J.B. Lang.

In 1912 Hesse and his family took a permanent residence in Switzerland. In the novel ROSSHALDE (1914) Hesse explored the question of whether the artist should marry. The author's replay was negative and reflected the author's own difficulties. During these years his wife suffered from growing mental instability and his son was seriously ill. Hesse spent the years of World War I in Switzerland, attacking the prevailing moods of militarism and nationalism. He also promoted the interests of prisoners of war. Hesse, who shared with Aldous Huxley belief in the need for spiritual self-realization, was called a traitor by his countrymen.

Hesse's breakthrough novel was DEMIAN (1919). It was highly praised by Thomas Mann, who compared its importance to James Joyce's Ulysses and André Gide's The Counterfeiters. The novel attracted especially young veterans of the WW I, and reflected Hesse's personal crisis and interest in Jungian psychoanalysis. Demian was first published under the name of its narrator, Emil Sinclair, but later Hesse admitted his authorship. In the Faustian tale the protagonist is torn between his orderly bourgeois existence and a chaotic world of sensuality. Hesse later admitted that Demian was a story of "individuation" in the Jungian manner. The author also praised unreservedly Jung's study Psychological Types, but in 1921 he suddenly canceled his analysis with Jung and started to consider him merely one of Freud's most gifted pupils.

Leaving his family in 1919, Hesse moved to Montagnola, in southern Switzerland. Siddharta was written during this period. It has been one of Hesse's most widely read work. Its English translation in the 1950s became a spiritual guide to a number of American Beat poets. Hesse's short marriage to Ruth Wenger, the daughter of the Swiss writer Lisa Wenger, was unhappy. He had met her in 1919 and wrote in 1922 the fairy tale PIKTOR'S VERWANDLUNGEN for Ruth. In the story a spirit, Piktor, becomes an old tree and finds his youth again from the love of a young girl. Hesse divorced from Maria Bernoulli, and married in 1924 Ruth Wenger, but the marriage ended after a few months. These years produced DER STEPPENWOLF (1927). The protagonist, Harry Haller, goes through his mid-life crisis and must chose between life of action and contemplation. His initials perhaps are not accidentally like the author's. "The few capacities and pursuits in which I happened to be strong had occupied all my attention, and I had painted a picture of myself as a person who was in fact nothing more tan a most refined and educated specialist in poetry, music and philosophy; and as such I had lived, leaving all the rest of me to be a chaos of potentialities, instincts and impulses which I found an encumbrance and gave the label of Steppenwolf." Haller feels that he has two beings inside him, and faces his shadow self, named Hermine. This Doppelgänger figure introduces Harry to drinking, dancing, music, sex, and drugs. Finally his personality is disassembled and reassembled in the 'Magic Theatre' - For Madmen Only.

During the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) Hesse stayed aloof from politics. BETRACHTUNGEN (1928) and KRIEG UND FRIEDEN (1946) were collections of essays, which reflected his individualism and opposition to mass movements of the day. NARZISS UND GOLDMUND (1930, Narcissus and Goldmund) was a pseudomedieval tale about an abbot and his worldly pupil, both in search of the Great Mother.

In 1931 Hesse married Ninon Dolbin (1895-1966). Ninon was Jewish. She had sent Hesse a letter in 1909 when she was 14, and the correspondence had continued. In 1926 they met accientally. At that time Ninon was separated - she had married the painter B.F. Doldin and planned a career as an art historian. Hesse moved with her to Casa Bodmer, and his restless life became more calm. Hesse's books continued to be published in Germany during the Nazi regime, and were defended in a secret circular in 1937 by Joseph Goebbels. When he wrote for the Frankfurter Zeitung Jewish refugees in France accused him of supporting the Nazis, whom Hesse did not openly oppose. However, he helped political refugees and when Narcissus and Goldmund was reprinted in 1941, he refused to leave out parts which dealt with pogroms and anti-Semitism. In 1943 he was placed on the Nazi blacklist.

In 1931 Hesse began to work on his masterpiece DAS GLASPERLENSPIEL, which was published in 1943. The setting is in the future in the imaginary province of Castilia, an intellectual, elitist community, dedicated to mathematics and music. Knecht ('servant') is chosen by the Old Music Master as a suitable aspirant to the Order. He goes to the city of Waldzell to study, and there he catches the attention of the Magister Ludi, Thomas von der Trave (an allusion to Hesse's rival Thomas Mann). He is the Master of the Games, a system by which wisdom is communicated. Knecht dedicates himself to the Game, and on the death of Thomas, he is elected Magister Ludi. After a decade in his office Knecht tries to leave to start a life devoted to realizing human rights, but accidentally drowns in a mountain lake. - In 1942 Hesse sent the manuscript to Berlin for publication. It was not accepted by the Nazis and the work appeared in Zürich, Switzerland.

After receiving the Nobel Prize Hesse published no major works. Between the years 1945 and 1962 he wrote some 50 poems and about 32 reviews mostly for Swiss newspapers. Hesse died of cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep on August 9, 1962 at the age of eighty-five. Hesse's other central works include In Sight of Chaos (1923), a collection of essays, and the novel Narcissus and Goldmund (1930), set in the Middle Ages and repeating the theme of two contrasting types of men. In the 1960s and 1970s Hesse became a cult figure for young readers. The interest declined in the 1980s. In 1969 the Californian rock group Sparrow changed their name to Steppenwolf after Hesse's classic, and released 'Born to be Wild'. Hesse's books have gained readers from the New Age movements and he is still one of the bestselling German-speaking writers throughout world.

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Artist Needed for Graphic Novel

Written by eastern writer on Monday, August 27, 2007

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Date: 2007-08-27, 3:01PM EDT

Twofold Comics, a new comic book company preparing to launch in the industry, is in need of a reliable artist to work on their first featured graphic novel. We are looking for someone who can handle all the artwork for the book themselves. This is a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new company and make a name for yourself in comics. Guaranteed publication upon completion of the artwork. Pay is offered on a percentage basis as opposed to the traditional upfront page rates.

* Compensation: Royalties from the sale of hardcopies, internet revenue, and merchandise
* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a contract job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!
* Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 407351000

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Friedrich Schiller: Poet of The American Revolution

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, August 21, 2007

For only can a great and noble cause
Arouse humanity's profoundest nature.
In smaller spheres, the mind of man contracts;
But with a nobler purpose, grows the greater.

And as this century is gravely ending,
And even what is real to fable turns,
When we behold huge forces locked in battle
And our portentous goal is hov'ring near,

And war is waged for man's most noble causes,
For domination and for liberty--
So now, let art attempt to soar yet higher
Upon the shadow-stage; indeed, she must,
Lest she be put to shame by life's own drama.

What would Schiller say, were he to see us today?

The great causes of mankind seem all but overwhelming; world peace and freedom hang in the balance; the less favored part of the world is threatened with extinction for lack of development; rabid Jacobinism is raging in the southeast regions of the world; indeed, our entire civilization appears to be in danger.

Would Schiller today pass the same judgment he reached upon witnessing the Jacobin terror of the French Revolution, that "a great moment has found a little people"?

Because we must find a better answer to this question, the international Schiller Institute has been founded. Its members in many nations share a fundamental belief in the reason of man, and in man's ability to solve even the greatest of crises. In order that those who do not know this great poet should understand why the institute bears his name, we offer here a brief sketch of the history of his life and work.

Let us establish the extraordinary example of beautiful humanity, so that we may orient ourselves thereto, and, with more joy and confidence, devote ourselves to our urgent goals.

The Poet of Freedom

But let it be said from the very start that no one, to our knowledge, more perfectly embodied the humanist ideal of humanity, no one more effectively united the conception of republican freedom with the principle of poetic beauty, than Friedrich Schiller. What Beethoven was for music, Schiller was for poetry. Schiller and Beethoven were the giants of the German classics, infinitely alike in their method of thought, each having established the standards by which all art must henceforth be measured.

Schiller was the great republican poet of freedom, who could adorn the ideal of a nobler, more beautiful mankind in such powerful language, that he truly found "an infallible key to the most secret recesses of the human soul." Like no other, he could evoke the most tender emotions within his audience, enlarge its heart, and guide it to a level of reason not previously known, because he, like no other, met the challenge he himself posed to every poet:

All he can give us is his individuality. Hence, this must be worthy of being shown off to the world and to posterity. To so ennoble this individuality, to refine and purify it into the most magnificent example of humanity--this his most important obligation he must fulfill before he can endeavor to move superior intellects.

It is the boundless merit of the German population of his time, that they loved Schiller as they never loved any other poet. One contemporary, Heinrich Anschütz, who later acted at the Burg- theater in Vienna, witnessed the premiere performance of The Maid of Orleans in Leipzig:

Young and old flocked to the theater in joyous ecstasy. The most vigorous gained the best seats in the gallery. Then a door in the loge section opens, and a tall, thin figure steps to the rail. "It's he, there's Schiller," ripples through the hail, and, like a cornfield swayed by the wind, the crowd leans to catch sight of the one it adores. . . .

We are hardly able to drag ourselves away from this sight in order to follow the overture and the first act of the tragedy. Now the heroine rises, to emplant the flag of victory in Orleans; the curtain falls, and a bacchanalian cry of jubilation echoes like a storm through the house: "Long live Friedrich Schiller!," accompanied by sounds of drums and trumpets from the orchestra. And now the stirring figure rises, visibly, moved, and bows thankfully toward the audience. Again a crescendo of applause, and only the rising curtain puts an end to the tumult.

Another eyewitness recounts what went on outside in front of the theater after the performance:

The entire square in front of the theater, all the way to the Ranstädter Gate, was choked with people. Then he stepped out, and a lane was instantly formed. Voices ordered hats to be removed. And so, the poet walked through the crowd of his admirers, their heads bared, and by his side his little Karl, who remembered it all his life. In the back, fathers lifted their children high above their shoulders and cried, "There he is!"

But Schiller's "jesting and playful," yet exalting impact was not confined to the popular masses. It would require an entire history book to demonstrate how Schiller was probably the most critical influence on all positive subsequent developments in German history. The thinking of the Prussian reformers vom Stein, von Humboldt, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and many others, was decisively shaped by him. It was his ideas which inspired the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon. And he also influenced the best minds around the world, such as John Quincy Adams, James Fennimore Cooper, and Edgar Allen Poe, to name only a few.

If we are to comprehend Schiller's powerful impact on his fellow men, we must try to imagine the electrifying effect such a genius has upon his fellow men. For instance, let us hear the words of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the great humanist and creator of the world's best model of education, who lived in Schiller's company for many years, and who, with Goethe, was one of the pillars of the Weimar classical period:

A great intellect can have no more direct and comprehensive effect, than through his own works. These works, however, illuminate merely one small part of his essential nature, which only flows back fully and clearly in its living form. In a manner which can be neither proven in the individual case, nor traced by thought alone, it is assimilated by his contemporaries and bequeathed to future generations. This quiet and almost magical effect of great minds is the principal vehicle by which an ever expanding body of thought can extend ever more broadly and powerfully from one generation, one nation to the next. In mummified form, as it were, written scientific and literary works can then transport it over chasms which the course of living affairs cannot bridge. Nations have always made major strides in their development before the written word, and in those darkest, but most important periods of human creation and formation, the only possible influence was that of the living. Thus, nothing draws our attention more than any attempt, no matter how weak, to investigate how a remarkable man of his century has, in his own individual manner, run the course of all thought, binding law with the world of appearances and striving beyond the finite into the infinite. This has often occupied my reflections on Schiller, and there is no one of his era whose internal intellectual life is more deserving of our examination.

The written reports of those who had the good fortune to have met Schiller personally, contain the most precious testimony of how their contact with him left such a lasting impression, that in many cases it altered the course of their entire lives.

Universal History

Never did Germany more closely approach Schiller's ideals than at the time of the Liberation Wars. These were not merely a patriotic uprising against Napoleon's tyranny; they were the result of an enthusiastic republican constitutional movement; and no one inspired that movement more than the great poet of freedom, Friedrich Schiller.

The reformers of Prussia carefully studied Schiller's History of the Thirty Years War, and applied its lessons to their battles against Napoleon during Russian campaign. Gneisenau rehearsed Wallenstein's Camp with his soldiers; countless soldiers visited Schiller's widow to receive lines torn from his poems, and kept them in the pockets of their jackets, near their hearts, so as to strengthen them as they marched into battle.

When Schiller's writings were banned under the Carlsbad Decrees of the reactionary rulers of the Holy Alliance in 1819, they were secretly passed from hand to hand, and his popularity continued to grow. Schiller became the inspiration and hero of the youth. His fame soon spread throughout the world, and in 1836, Germans from every part of the world financed the statue made by Thorwaldson, the first statue ever of a German who was neither prince nor military commander!

In 1841, Goethe's student Riemer wrote:

Schiller is the idol of the youth, the favorite of the women, the oracle of the elderly, the warrior's inspiration in storm and battle, the motto and election slogan of the republican debaters.

The Schiller féstivals in 1859 still stand as the most powerful positive political demonstrations ever held in Germany. Schiller's memory was celebrated in countless towns in Germany, but also among all German emigrants in America and elsewhere. In schools, universities, churches, and even in workshops, a loud call rang out for national unity, and there is no doubt that Germany's fate would have taken a far more positive turn, had Germany been united as a republic in the spirit of Schiller, and not under Bismarck, who followed soon thereafter.

German culture, and especially Schiller's popularity, exerted an important influence on America throughout the nineteenth century. The 100th anniversary of Schiller's death in 1905 marked yet another Schiller renaissance, but it was also the last time when German culture was considered a genuine ingredient of America's heritage, before it was largely suppressed by Teddy Roosevelt and the First World War.

But as long as America remains separated from Schiller by ideological barriers, it will also remain separated from its own soul. For no other poet eternalized the ideals of the American Revolution as did he.

Schiller's Life

Friedrich Schiller was born 225 years ago, on November 10, in Marbach. He spent an extremely happy childhood there, and also later in Lorch, and then at the Latin School in Ludwigsburg. His happiness was only interrupted when Karl Eugen, the Duke of Württemburg, moved him into the Karlsschule, the "Ducal military academy."

Although Schiller suffered immensely at this school, where he had to stay from his thirteenth to his twenty-first year, the influences which flowed in upon him during that time became a wellspring from which his poetic genius would later explode.

On the more positive side, his mind developed under the influence, still felt in the eighteenth century, of Leibniz, Lessing, and Shakespeare, and conspicuous among his teachers was a professor of philosophy who polemically challenged his students to develop into geniuses--Friedrich Abel.

Schiller developed a passionate aversion to the oligarchical despotism of the nobility, who brutally and thoughtlessly crushed the aspirations of their subjects, and who would carelessly squander their peasants' entire year's work, if it pleased them to stage a hunt with 300 horses. In these early years, Schiller developed an absolutely uncompromising disgust for every form of philistinism and mediocrity, an attitude without which he would have never attained greatness. But he also developed acute political insight, enabling him to expose the most intricate and covert operations run by the oligarchical faction of his time, and he shed ever new light upon them in such works as "The Ghost Seer" or his "The Jesuit government of Paraguay," or in his poem "The Evil Monarchs," to name only a few. With that unique insight exclusive to genius, he exposed every method of psychological warfare, every activity they directed against the idea of republican freedom. Whoever reads his works today will quickly discover to his gre4t amazement, that these forces remain essentially unchanged to this day.

Drama and Poetry

In his first drama, The Robbers, secretly written by the 20-year-old Schiller when he was still in the Karlsschule, a dramatic talent erupted, that has no parallel in the German language. While dramas greater than The Robbers were to follow, Schiller had already demonstrated what it was that distinguished him from all other playwrights--his ability to compose in such a gripping way that each line is born of necessity from the previous one, so that it is impossible to put down one of his dramas, no matter how many times one might have read it, not to speak of the overwhelming effect of his dramas performed on the stage, which only a fool could possibly evade.

Schiller's fellow students, who secretly attended the first performance of The Robbers, excitedly acted out entire scenes at night in the woods. This drama established Schiller's fame throughout Germany at one stroke, and soon throughout Europe.

When Duke Carl Eugen forbade Schiller to write, forbade him any contact with "foreign countries," and even arrested him, so that Schiller must have thought he would soon share the same horrible fate as the poet Schubart, he decided to flee. His good friend, the composer and later collaborator of Beethoven; Andreas Streicher, made great sacrifices to help Schiller escape.

These experiences were woven into Schiller's third drama, Cabals and Love, the first play in which he makes direct reference to the American Revolution. Not only did he put the entire duplicity and perfidy of contemporary life at court ruthlessly upon the stage; here he also attacks the sale of Hessian soldiers to the English, who were in the habit of throwing such soldiers as cannon-fodder into the war against the renegade American colonies. But even the English could not prevent some of those soldiers from deserting to the side of the young American republic.

Cabals and Love was to be Schiller's last drama to make such drastic references to his own time. The play was immediately forbidden after its premiere performance, and a flood of letters attacking the poet flew back and forth between the authorities. prom the Prussian to the Bavarian court, the word was that this dangerous subject would have to be neutralized and prevented from obtaining any employment.

To escape censorship, Schiller never wrote another drama dealing with his own time. Instead, he used the trick of shifting the great affairs of the present to earlier historical times. But all of his many subsequent works, ranging from dramas, poems, historical to theoretical works, were still borne by the great idea of political freedom, and they all mirrored the ideals successfully realized in the American Revolution, ideals that united all of Europe's ardent patriots. The famous Rütli oath from William Tell was directly taken from the American Declaration of Independence.

After Schiller had escaped from his personal difficulties, with the aid of Christian Gottfried Körner in Leipzig, whose house was a gathering place for republican networks, he was filled with optimism about the future of mankind. It was in Körner's house that Schiller composed the world-famous lines:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken.
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten, feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt,
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Joy, immortal incandescence,
Daughter of Elysium!
Breathing fire from thy presence
To thy temple-ground we come.
Whom the world estranged from others
Thy enchantments reunite,
Making mankind into brothers
Where thy gentle wings alight.

This poem appeared in 1786, in that very decade when all Europe's republicans were gazing, full of enthusiasm, upon the successful American Revolution, a success in which they had a large share, through the networks of Lafayette, Steuben, Franklin, Washington, and the League of Armed Neutrality. The American Revolution had really been their joint project to establish, for the first time, a free republic in the New World.

They hoped that the beginning of the French Revolution would take a similarly happy turn, that this would act as a lever for all of Europe, so that Germany, too, which was still a collection of 300 small principalities, could become a nation.

In his "Letters On Don Carlos," Schiller describes discussions on this perspective as the favorite topic of the decade: the establishment of a new nation, wherein the utmost flourishing of the state would coincide with the maximum development of the individual.

The drama Don Carlos, along with William Tell, are perhaps his most direct celebration of the American Revolution. Even though the scene of Don Carlos is shifted to the court of Philip II of Spain, when the Marquis of Posa takes up the cause of justice for the province of Flanders, this "emissary of mankind" speaks, in ideal form, the words which also moved the Founding Fathers. When Philip hears the Marquis refuse to become a servant of princes, and the King attempts to force him into his service, the Marquis seizes the opportunity to hurl the truth directly at the most powerful monarch of his time:

Yes, almighty God!
Yes--yes--I will repeat it. Give us back
What you have taken from us! Let there be
An endless flow of human happiness
From your incessant spring--let minds mature
Within your universal structure. Give us back
What you have taken from us, and become
A king who rules a million other kings.
And oh! If only words of eloquence
Of all the thousands who are taking part
In this great hour, were hov'ring on my lips,
Then could I take that spark within your eye
And kindle it to flames!--Relinquish this
Perverse, unnatural idolatry
Which crushes us. Become for us a model
Of truth whose reign is timeless. Never-- never
Has one sole mortal ever had so much
To use toward goodness and divinity.
All Europe's kings acclaim the Spanish throne;
You are the first among the kings of Europe.
From you, a single pen-stroke, and the world
Is new, is re-created. Sire, O give us
The freedom of ideas.

Yet, Schiller's dramas are far more than a celebration; they are really strategic studies containing universal truths, revealing the mistakes that republicans simply must not make, if victory is to be theirs.

In the case of the Marquis of Posa, for example, his mistake is flight forward. Embroiled in a complicated plot, the Marquis flees forward, first to save the prince, Don Carlos, by sacrificing himself, but also---as Schiller points out--so that by sacrificing himself, he can remain "pure." But by doing so, the Marquis has lost precisely what had to be won-- freedom for Flanders.

Time and again, Schiller's dramas demonstrate how a man's duty lies above his own personal inclinations, how he must be both a patriot and a world citizen--which can never imply a contradiction, for the true interests any one nation can never be at odds with the interests of the world as a whole.

Schiller's dramatic method is at the same time a method of education into reason--not didactically, with a raised, moralizing finger, but rather by forcibly confronting the individuals on the stage with the great cause of mankind, "which elevates men, even as it crushes them."

In his prologue to the Bride of Messina, Schiller remarks that

True art . . . is not intended as a mere passing fancy; its earnest endeavor is not to transport man into a mere momentary dream of freedom, but rather to make him actually free, and to do so by awakening, exercising and developing within him his power to achieve an objective distance from the sensible world, which otherwise weighs down upon us like a dead object, pressing us like a blind force. This distance gives us the power to transform the material world into the free work of our own intellect, and to exert dominion over it through ideas.

In another place, Schiller says,

The stage is the common channel through which the light of wisdom streams down from the thoughtful, better part of society, spreading thence in mild beams throughout the entire state. Truer ideas, more refined precepts, purified emotions then flow into the veins of the population; the clouds of barbarism and dark superstition disperse; night yields to victorious light.

Schiller was not only the greatest German dramatist; he also developed a philosophy of history, that has not been surpassed to this day in its high principles and its truth of insight.

All previous ages, without knowing or intending it, have endeavored to prepare the advent of our own human century. Ours are all the treasures which industry and genius, reason and experience, have conquered over the world's aging span. It is from history that you will first learn to value of these possessions, which the force of habit and unassailed possession all too readily incline us to take for granted--these precious goods, stained with the blood of our noblest and best, the hard- won fruits of the heavy toil of generations! Who among you, where clear mind and feeling heart are closely wed, can be cognizant of this high obligation without also being moved by a silent wish to repay the coming generation for that debt which the past can no longer receive? Within us there must burn a noble desire to contribute from our own means to the rich legacy of truth, morality, and liberty, which our ancestors have bequeathed to us, and which we must now pass on to our successors--a desire to link our fleeting existence with the imperishable chain that winds through all generations of mankind. As diverse as your destinies may be in the great world, still every one of you can contribute something to that end! With every worthy act, a pathway is opened to immortality, to that true immortality where the deed lives and hurries on, even should the name of its author remain behind.

In the same year of 1789, when Schiller delivered that inaugural address as Professor of History in Jena, he also composed a poem called "The Artists," a hymn to the reason of man:

How beautifully, O man, with your branch of palm,
You stand on the century's slope
In proud and noble manliness,
With open mind, with spirits high,
Stern yet gentle, in active stillness,
The ripest son of time-- Free through reason, strong through laws,
Through meekness great, and rich with treasures
Long lain dormant within your breast;
Lord of nature who loves your chains,
Who tests your strength in countless battles,
Who under you emerged resplendent from the wilderness!

When Schiller wrote those lines, he was still firmly convinced that mankind stood on the threshold of the Age of Reason. But as the Jacobin Terror began to crush the hopes offered by the French Revolution, he increasingly vented his horror at that scene of barbarity. And so, Schiller, who had just composed the lines, "How beautifully, O man, with your branch of palm, you stand on the century's slope," later reflected upon the Paris massacre in "The Song of the Bell":

Yet the most terrifying of terrors
Is man in his folly.

The outcome of the French Revolution occasioned Schiller to make his famous remark that "A great moment has found a little people." Since for the moment there was no hope of establishing a political order in Europe based on the principles of reason and freedom, Schiller turned his attention to the question of how this "little people" could now be educated. His "Aesthetic Letters" deal with this issue, and proceed from the thesis that any improvement in political affairs can only result from an improvement in the character of individuals. Many other invaluable works, such as "On Grace and Dignity," deal with the same subject.

Schiller attributes the most decisive role to art itself. Art can never be a mere ornament or a passing mood. It must be the expression of a higher lawfulness, and of freedom at the same time. But how can the artist predetermine the effect of a work of art upon his audience, without himself violating that principle of freedom?

By dictating to our imagination no other course but that which it would have to take in full freedom and according to its own laws, so that it accomplishes its purpose through nature and will transform external into internal necessity. . . . Both criteria do not simply cancel each other out, but rather, each is contained within the other; it is only through the greatest determinateness that the greatest freedom is possible.

Schiller's challenge to artists is the greatest one conceivable. The poet "must have extinguished the individual within himself and have elevated himself to his species character. Only thus is he capable of formulating a universal truth, which can win the reader to a higher order of thought."

This period of the early 1790s also saw Schiller's reckoning with the work of Immanuel Kant, whose categorical imperative required that man must do his duty, should any contradiction between necessity and inclination arise. Such a "Kantian" approach necessarily aroused the indignation of our freedom-loving poet, and so he wrote:

What crime have the children of the house committed, that he cares only for the servants?

A Beauriful Soul

Schiller counterposed the Kantian fulfilment of duty to the idea of the "beautiful soul," an emotional condition in which "reason and sensuousness, duty and inclination, coincide."

We call a soul "beautiful" when its moral sense of all human experience has become so steadfast, that it can confidently let its emotions serve to guide its own will, without any risk of coming into contradiction with its own decisions. The individual actions of the beautiful soul are therefore not moral in themselves, but rather are so by virtue of its entire nature. No single one of its actions can be counted as a specific merit, since the mere satisfaction of an impulse could never be called meritorious. The beautiful soul possesses no other merit than its own existence. It performs humanity's most odious duties with the ease of someone acting out of pure instinct, and the most heroic sacrifices it extracts from its natural impulse, appear to the observer as the mere free play of that impulse. Hence the beautiful soul is never cognizant of the beauty of its own acts; it no longer occurs to it that one could act and feel otherwise.

Friedrich Schiller died too young, on May 12, 1805. There were so much more, infinitely more to quote from Schiller, so much more to say about him. But let this brief sketch be a stimulus for those who wish to read and study Schiller for themselves.

Just as Schiller set forth a program for his own era to elevate endangered and ruined humanity through classical art, by reaching back to the heritage of the Greeks, today we, too, must link up with the ideal of mankind set forth in the Weimar classics, in order to unfold anew the whole of human nature with Schiller's method.

If we leave all the confusion of later history to one side, and ourselves become those "honest discoverers" whom Schiller once hoped for, we will then have found the key to overcoming the inner fissures of modern man. But not only this. If we learn to think great thoughts as Schiller did, we will have also found the strength to master the great causes of mankind today.

Great is he, who overcomes the terrifying;
Man is greater than his fate.

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Since 1984, the Schiller Institute has been engaged in a Translation Project, to make Schiller's poetry, dramas and other writings intelligible and available in English. See the Books Page for the Schiller: Poet of Freedom 3 Volume Set, and Fidelio Magazine for various other translations.

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Friedrich Schiller’s Philosophical Letters

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Translated by William F. Wertz, Jr.


Reason has its epochs, its destinies, like the heart, but its history is far more rarely treated. One seems to be satisfied therewith, to develop the passions in their extreme, their aberrations and consequences, without taking into consideration, how exactly they cohere with the intellectual system of the individual. The universal root of moral degeneration is a one-sided and wavering philosophy, so much the more dangerous, because it blinds the beclouded reason with an appearance of lawfulness, truth, and conviction, and just for this reason is held less in bounds by the inborn moral feeling. An enlightened understanding, on the other hand, also ennobles the sentiments—the head must form the heart.

In an epoch like the present one, where facilitation and spread of reading so astonishingly enlarges the thinking part of the public, where the happy resignation to ignorance begins to make room for a half enlightenment and only a few still wish to remain there, where the accident of birth has cast them down, it seems not to be so entirely unimportant to call attention to certain periods of awakening and progressing reason, to correct certain truths and errors, which are connected to morality and can be a source of felicity and misery, and, at the very least, to indicate the concealed reefs on which proud reason has already run aground. We arrive at truth only rarely other than through extremes—we must first exhaust the error—and often the nonsense, before we work ourselves up to the beautiful goal of tranquil wisdom.

Some friends, inspired by an equal warmth for the truth and moral beauty, who have united upon entirely different pathways in the same conviction and now survey with more tranquil glance the already traveled course, have joined in the plan, to develop several revolutions and epochs of thought, several excesses of the pondering reason in the portrait of two young men of unequal character, and to place them before the world in the form of an exchange of letters. The following letters are the beginning of this attempt.

The opinions which will be presented in these letters, can therefore also only be respectively true or false, just so, as the world is mirrored in this one’s soul and no other. The pursuit of the letter exchange will show how these one-sided, often exaggerated, often contradictory assertions finally are resolved in a universal, purified, and firmly grounded truth.

Skepticism and free-thinking are the feverish paroxysms of the human spirit and must, through the very same unnatural concussion, which they cause in well-organized souls, at last help fortify the health. The more blinding, the more seducing the error, that much more the triumph for truth, the more tormenting the doubt, the greater the invitation to conviction and firm certainty. However, to express this doubt, this error, was necessary; the knowledge of the disease had to precede the cure. The truth loses nothing, if a passionate youth misses it, just as little as virtue and religion, if a scoundrel renounces them.

This had to have been said in advance, in order to specify the point of view from which we wish the following exchange of letters to be read and judged.

Julius to Raphael

In October.
Thou art gone, Raphael—and the beautiful nature sinks below, the leaves fall yellow from the trees, a thick autumn fog lies like a pall over the deserted fields. Alone I wander through the melancholy region, call out thy name aloud and am wroth, that my Raphael does not answer me.

I have survived thy last embraces. The sad rush of the carriage, which transported thee away, was at last silenced in mine ear. I, the fortunate one, had already piled up a charitable hill of earth over the joys of the past, and now thou standest up like thy departed spirit anew in these regions, and announcest thyself to me at each favorite site of our walks. These rocks have I ascended at thy side, at thy side I wandered through this immeasurable perspective. In the black sanctuary of this beech grove we first devised the bold ideal of our friendship. Here it was, where we for the first time unrolled the genealogical tree of the spirit and Julius found in Raphael such a close relative. Here is no spring, no thicket, no hill, where some memory of departed happiness did not take aim at my tranquility. Everything, everything has conspired against my recovery. Wherever I but tread, I repeat the anxious scene of our separation.—

What hast thou made of me, Raphael? What has in a short time become of me! Dangerous great man! that I never had known or never lost thee! Hasten back, come back upon the wings of love, or thy tender planting is past. Couldst thou venture with thy gentle soul, to abandon thy work just begun, still so far from its completion? The founding pillars of thy proud wisdom totter in my brain and heart, all the magnificent palaces, which thou didst construct, collapse, and the worm, crushed to death, writhes whimpering under the ruins.

Blessed paradisiacal time, when with eyes bound, I still staggered through life like a drunk—when all my forwardness and all my wishes turned back once again to the boundaries of my fatherly horizon—when a serene sunset caused me to have a presentiment of nothing higher than a beautiful day in the morrow—when only a political newspaper reminded me of the world, only the funeral bell of eternity, only ghost stories of being called to account after death, when I still trembled before a devil and all the more heartily clung to the Divinity. I felt and was happy. Raphael has taught me to think, and I am on the way to weep over my creation.

Creation? —No, that is indeed only a sound without meaning, which my reason may not permit. There was a time, when I knew of nothing, when no one knew of me, therefore one says, I was not. That time is no longer, therefore one says, that I be created. However, one now also knows nothing more of the millions, who were present centuries ago, and yet one says, they are. Whereupon ground we the right, to affirm the beginning and to deny the end? The cessation of thinking beings, one asserts, contradicts infinite Goodness. Did this infinite Goodness then originate first with the creation of the world? —If there had been a period, when there were still no spirits, was infinite Goodness thus indeed ineffective for an entire preceding eternity? If the structure of the world is a perfection of the Creator, so did He indeed lack a perfection before the creation of the world? However, such an assumption contradicts the idea of the perfect God, therefore there was no creation—Where have I gotten to, my Raphael?—Terrible fallacy of my conclusions! I give up the Creator, so soon as I believe in a God. Wherefore do I need a God, if I suffice without the Creator?

Thou hast stolen the belief from me, which gave me peace. Thou hast taught me to despise, where I worshipped. A thousand things were so venerable to me, before thy sad wisdom undressed them to me. I saw a crowd of people stream toward the church, I heard their inspired devotion unite in a brotherly prayer—twice did I stand before the bed of death, saw twice—powerful wonderwork of religion!—the hope of heaven triumph over the horror of annihilation and kindle the fresh light beams of joy in the dimmed eyes of the dying. Godly, yes godly must the doctrine be, I called out, which the best among men acknowledge, which so powerfully triumphs and so wonderfully comforts. Thy cold wisdom extinguished my enthusiasm. Just as many, thou didst say to me, once thronged around the Statue of Armenius and to Jupiter’s temple, just as many have just as joyfully ascended the stake to honor their Brahma. What thou findest so abominable in heathenism, shall that prove the divinity of thy doctrine?

Believe none but thine own reason, thou didst further say. There is nothing more holy than the truth. What reason discerns, is the truth. I have thee obeyed, have all opinions sacrificed, have, like that desperate conqueror, set fire to all my ships, when I landed on this island, and destroyed all hope of return. I can never again reconcile myself with an opinion, which I once ridiculed. My reason is now all to me, my only guarantee for divinity, virtue, immortality. Woe to me from now on, if I meet this only guarantor in a contradiction! if my respect for its conclusions sinks! if a broken thread in my brain shifts its course! —My happiness is from now on entrusted to the harmonious rhythm of my sensorium. Woe to me, if the strings of this instrument give a false sound in the critical periods of my life—if my convictions waver with my pulse beat!
Julius to Raphael

Thy theory has flattered my pride. I was a prisoner. Thou hast led me out into the day, the golden light and the immeasurable open air have delighted mine eyes. Before, I was satisfied with the modest reputation of being called a good son of my house, a friend of my friends, a useful member of society, thou hast transformed me into a citizen of the universe. My wishes had not yet encroached upon the rights of the great. I tolerated those fortunate ones, because beggars tolerated me. I did not blush to envy a part of the human species, because there was yet a greater part remaining, which I had to lament. Now I learned for the first time, that my pretensions to enjoyment were as weighty as those of my remaining brothers. Now I realized, that a layer above this atmosphere I was worth exactly as much and as little as the rulers of the earth. Raphael cut all bonds of agreement and of opinion in two. I felt myself entirely free—for reason, Raphael said to me, is the only monarchy in the world of spirits, I carried my imperial throne in my brain. All things in heaven and upon the earth have no worth, no valuation, except so much as my reason concedes them. The entire creation is mine, for I possess an unchallengable full power, to enjoy it fully. All spirits—one step below the most perfect Spirit—are my fellow brothers, because we all obey one rule, to pay homage to one Supreme Master.

How sublime and magnificent this announcement sounds! What a store for my thirst of knowledge! but—unfortunate contradiction of nature—this free upward-striving spirit is woven into the rigid, unchangeable clockwork of a mortal body, mixed up with its small requirements, yoked to its small destiny—this god is banished into a world of worms. The enormous space of nature is opened to his activity, but he may only not think two ideas at the same time. His eyes carry him up to the sunny goal of the Divinity, but he himself must first creep toward Him inertly and laboriously through the elements of time. To exhaust one enjoyment, he must give up for lost every other; two unrestricted desires are too great for his small heart. Every newly acquired joy costs him the sum of all the previous ones. The present moment is the tomb of all of the past ones. A shepherd’s rendezvous is an intermittent pulse beat in friendship.

Wherever I but look, Raphael, how limited is man! How great the distance between his pretensions and their fulfillment!—Oh yet envy him his beneficent sleep. Wake him not. He was so happy, until he began to question, whither he had to go, and whence had come. Reason is a torch in a prison. The prisoner knew nothing of the light, but a dream of freedom appeared over him like a lightning flash in the night, which leaves it darker behind. Our philosophy is the unhappy curiosity of Oedipus, who did not slacken his search, until the horrible oracle was solved.

Mayest thou never discover who thou art!

Does thy wisdom compensate me, for what it has taken from me? If thou hadst no key to heaven, why didst thou have to lead me away from the earth? If thou didst know in advance, that the way to wisdom led through the terrible abyss of doubt, why didst thou venture the peaceful innocence of thy Julius upon this dubious design?

—If to the good,
Which I intend to do, there borders all
Too near what’s very bad, so I would rather
Not do the good—

Thou hast torn down a cottage which was inhabited, and founded a magnificent dead palace upon the spot.

Raphael, I claim my soul from thee. I am not happy. My courage is gone. I despair of mine own strength. Write me soon. Only thy healing hand can pour balsam on my burning wound.
Raphael to Julius

A happiness such as ours, Julius, without interruption, were too much for a human lot. This thought quite often pursued me in the full enjoyment of our friendship. What then embittered my bliss was curative preparation, for alleviating my present condition. Hardened in the rigorous school of resignation, I am still more susceptible to the comfort of seeing in our separation a small sacrifice, in order to earn from fate the joys of our future union. Thou didst not yet know until now what privation be. Thou dost suffer for the first time—

And yet is it perhaps a benefit for thee, that I was just now torn from thy side. Thou hast to survive an illness, from which thou canst only recover through thine own self alone, in order to be safe from any relapse. The more deserted thou feel’st thyself, the more thou wilt summon all healing power in thyself; the less thou receivest momentary alleviation from deceptive palliatives, the more certain wilt thou succeed in rooting out the evil at its foundation.

That I have roused thee from thy sweet dreams, I do not yet regret, even if thy present condition is unpleasant. I have done nothing except accelerate a crisis, which, to such souls as thine, sooner or later is inevitably imminent and in which everything depends thereon, in which period of life it is endured. There are situations in which it is terrible, to despair at truth and virtue. Woe to him, who, in the storms of passion, has to fight with the subtleties of a caviling reason. What this means I have felt myself in its entire extent, and, in order to preserve thee from such a destiny, nothing remained left to me, but to neutralize this unavoidable epidemic through inoculation.

And what more favorable moment could I have chosen, my Julius! In the full strength of youth thou stoodst before me, body and spirit in the most glorious bloom, oppressed by no cares, fettered by no passion, to succeed freely and strongly in the great fight, whereof the sublime peace of conviction is the prize. Truth and error were not yet interwoven in thine interest. Thine enjoyment and thy virtues were independent of both. Thou didst require no deterring images to pull thee back from base debaucheries. The feeling for noble joys had made these disgusting to thee. Thou wert good from instinct, from undesecrated moral grace. I had nothing to fear for thy morality, if a structure collapsed on which it was not grounded. And yet thine apprehensions did not yet frighten me. Whatever may inspire in thee a melancholy temper, I know thee better, Julius.

Ungrateful one! Thou dost decry reason, thou forgetest, what joys it has already awarded to thee. Even hadst thou been able to escape the addiction to doubt for thine entire life, so was it a duty for me, not to withhold pleasures from thee, of which thou wert capable and worthy. The step, whereon thou stoodst, was not worthy of thee. The path, on which thou didst climb upward, offered thee compensation for everything that I robbed from thee. I still remember with what delight thou didst bless the moment, when the bandage fell from thine eyes. That warmth, with which thou didst grasp the truth, has perhaps led thine all-devouring imagination to the abyss, before which, terrified, thou drawest back shuddering.

I must trace the course of thine inquiries, in order to discover the sources of thy complaints. Thou hast otherwise written up the results of thy reflections. Send me these papers, and then I will answer thee.—

Julius to Raphael

This morning I root through my papers. I find a lost composition again, drawn up in those happy hours of my proud enthusiasm. Raphael, how entirely different do I find everything now! It is the wooden stage of the theater, when the lighting is gone. My heart sought a philosophy, and phantasie substituted her dreams. The warmest was to me the true.

I search for the laws of the spirit—swing myself up to the infinite, but I forgot to prove, that they really are at hand. A bold assault of materialism collapses my creation.

Thou wilt read through this fragment, my Raphael. Would that thou dost succeed, in kindling once again the extinct sparks of my enthusiasm, to reconcile me again with my genius—but my pride has sunk so deeply, that even Raphael’s applause will hardly raise it up again.

Theosophy of Julius

The world and the thinking being

The universe is a thought of God. After this ideal mental image stepped over into reality and the engendered world fulfilled the plan of its Creator—permit me this human presentation—so is the vocation of all thinking beings to find once again the first design in this existing whole, to seek out the rule in the machine, the unity in the composition, the law in the phenomenon and to pass backwards from the structure to its founding design. Therefore for me there is a single appearance in nature, the thinking being. The great composition, which we name the world, remains only noteworthy to me know, because it is present, to indicate to me symbolically the manifold expressions of that being. Everything in me and outside of me is only the hieroglyph of a power, which is similar to me. The laws of nature are the ciphers, which the thinking being joins together, to make itself understandable to the thinking being—the alphabet, by means of which all spirits converse with the most perfect spirit and with themselves. Harmony, truth, order, beauty, excellence give me joy, because they remove me into the active condition of their inventor, of their possessor, because they betray to me the presence of a rational, feeling being and let me divine my relationship with this Being. A new experience in this realm of truth, gravitation, the discovered circulation of the blood, the natural system of Linnaeus, are to me originally the same, as an antique, dug up at Herculaneum—both only the reflection of one spirit, a new acquaintance with a being similar to me. I confer with the infinite through the instrument of nature, through the history of the world—I read the soul of the Artist in his Apollo.

Wouldst thou convince thyself, my Raphael, so search backwards. Each state of the human sould has some parable in the physical creation, through which it is indicated, and not artists and poets alone, but even the most abstract thinkers have drawn from this abundant warehouse. Lively activity we name fire, time is a stream, which rolls rapaciously forth, eternity is a circle, a mystery is wrapped in midnight, and the truth dwells in the sun. Yes, I begin to believe, that even the future destiny of the human spirit lies proclaimed in advance in the dark oracle of the physical creation. Each coming spring, which forces the shoots of plants out of the womb of the earth, gives me explanation of the uneasy riddle of death and refutes my anxious apprehension of an eternal sleep. The swallow, which we find benumbed in winter and in spring see come to life again, the dead caterpillar, which, made young anew as the butterfly, rises into the air, give us an excellent sensuous image of our immortality.

How noteworthy everything becomes to me now!—Now, Raphael, all is peopled round about me. There is for me no longer any solitude in the whole of nature. Where I discover a body, there I divine a spirit—Where I notice movement, there I conjecture a thought.

“Where no dead lies buried, where no resurrection will be,” speaks Omnipotence indeed to me through His works, and so I understand the theory of an omnipresence of God.


All spirits are drawn by perfection. All—there are aberrations here, but no single exception—all strive after the condition of the highest free expression of their powers, all possess the common drive, to extend their activity, to draw all to themselves, to assemble in themselves, to make their own, what they recognize as good, as excellent, as attractive. Intuition of the beautiful, of the true, of the excellent is the instantaneous taking possession of these properties. Whichever condition we perceive, we enter into it ourselves. In the moment, when we think of them, we are the proprietors of a virtue, the authors of an action, inventors of a truth, owners of a happiness. We ourselves become the perceived object. Let me be confused here by no ambiguous smile, my Raphael—this assmption is the basis, whereupon I based all the following, and we must be agreed; before I have courage, to complete my construction.

The inner feeling already tells everyone something similar. When we, for example, admire an act of generosity, of bravery, of intelligence, does not a secret consciousness stir here in our heart, that we were capable of doing the same? Does not the bright red, which at the hearing of such a story colors our cheeks, already betray, that our modesty trembles at the admiration? that we become embarrassed over the praise, which the ennobling of our being must earn us? Yes, even our body in this moment expresses itself in the gestures of the acting man and shows clearly, that our soul has passed over into this condition. If thou wert present, Raphael, when a great event was related before a large assembly, didst thou not take a look at the narrator, how he himself awaited the incense, he himself consumed the applause, which was offered to his hero—and, if thou wert the narrator, didst thou never surprise thy heart in this happy deception? Thou hast examples, Raphael, how lively I can even wrangle with my heart’s friend about the reading of a beautiful anecdote, of an excellent poem, and my heart has softly confessed to me, that I only begrudged thee the laurel, which passed over from the creator to the reader. A quick and intimate artistic feeling for virtue is universally held to be a great talent for virtue, just as one on the contrary has no hesitation, to question the heart of a man, whose head grasps moral beauty difficultly and slowly.

Do not object to me, that not infrequently the opposing defect is found with the lively perception of a perfection, that a high enthusiasm for the excellent often overcomes even the villain, an enthusiasm of high herculean greatness sometimes flames through even the weak. I know for example, that our admired Haller, who unmasked in such a manly way the esteemed nothingness of vain honors, whose philosophical greatness I afforded so much admiration, that even he was not able to despise the even more vain nothingness of a knight’s star (medallion), which offended his greatness. I am convinced, that in the happy moments of the ideal, the artist, the philosopher and the poet are really the great and good men, whose image they throw away—however, this ennobling of the spirit is with many only an unnatural condition produced forcibly by a more lively boiling of the blood, a more rapid flight of the phantasie, which, however, for that very reason, disappears as fleetingly as any other enchantment and delivers the heart all the more exhausted over to the despotic caprice of the base passions. All the more exhausted, I say—for a universal experience teaches, that the relapsing criminal is always the more furious, that the renegades of virtue only recover all the more sweetly from the uncomfortable compulsion of repentence in the arms of vice.

I wanted to prove, my Raphael, that it is our own condition, when we feel a strange one, that the perfection becomes ours at the moment, wherein we awaken in ourselves a conception of it, that our pleasure in truth, beauty and virtue is resolved at last in the consciousness of our own ennobling, our own enriching, and I believe, I have proven it.

We have concepts of the wisdom of the highest Being, of his goodness, of his righteousness—but none of his omnipotence. To indicate his omnipotence, we help ourselves with the stepwise presentation of three successions: Nothing, His Will, and Something.l It is waste and dark—God calls: Light—and it becomes light. Had we a real idea of His working omnipotence, so were we creators, as He.

Every perfection, therefore, which I perceive, becomes mine own, it gives me joy, because it is mine own, I desire it, because I love myself. Perfection in nature is no property of matter, but rather of the spirit. All spirits are happy through their perfection. I desire the happiness of all spirits, because I love myself. The happiness, which I present to myself, becomes my happiness, therefore it depends upon me, to awaken these presentations, to multiply and to elevate them—therefore, it depends upon me, to extend happiness all around me. What beauty, what excellence, what enjoyment I bring forth outside me, I bring forth myself, that which I neglect, destroy, I destroy myself, I neglect myself—I desire the happiness of others, because I desire my own. Desire for the happiness of others we name benevolence, love.


Now, best Raphael, let me look around. The height has been scaled, the fog has fallen, as in a blossiming landscape I stnd in the midst of the immeasurable. A purer sunlight has refined all my concepts.

Love therefore—the most beautiful phenomenon in the soul-filled creation, the omnipotent magnet in the spiritual world, the source of devotion and the most sublime virtue—Love is only the reflection of this single original power, an attraction of the excellent, grounded upon an instantaneous exchange of the personality, a confusion of being.

When I hate, so take I something from myself; when I love, so become I so much the richer, by what I love. Forgiveness is the recovery of a lost property—hatred of man a prolonged suicide; egoism the highest poverty of a created being.

As Raphael stole away from my last embrace, my soul was torn apart, and I cry at the loss of my more beautiful half. On that blessed evening—thou art acquainted with it—when our souls for the first time ardently came in touch, all thy great perceptions became mine own, I only asserted mine eternal property right upon thine excellence—prouder thereof, to love thee, than to be loved by thee, for the first had made me into Raphael.

“Was’t not this omnipotent desire,
That in love’s eternal happy fire
Did our hearts unto each other force?
Raphael, upon thine arm—delight!
Venture I to th’spir’tual sun so bright
Joyful on perfection’s course.

Happy! Happy! Thee have I thus found,
Have from out of millions thee wound round,
And from out the millions thou art mine.
Let the savage chaos come once more,
Let the atoms in confusion pour,
For eternity our hearts entwine.

Must I not from out thy flaming eyes
Draw th’ reflection of my paradise?
But in thee I wonder at myself.
Fairer doth th’ fair earth to me appear,
In the friend’s demeanor shines more clear,
Lovelier the Heav’n itself.

Melancholy drops the tearful weight,
Sweetly th’storm of passion to abate,
In the breast of charity.
Seeks not e’en the torturous delight,
Raphael, within thy spirit’s sight,
A voluptuous grave impatiently?

Stood i’th’ All o’ creation I alone,
Do I dream of souls i’th’ rocky stone,
And embracing them I kiss.
My complaints I moan into the sky
I enjoyed, the chasm did reply,
Fool enough, sweet sympathetic bliss.”—

Love does not take place between similarly sounding souls, but between harmoneious ones. With pleasure I discern again my perceptions in the mirror of thine, but with more fiery longing I devour the higher ones, which are lacking in me. One rule guides friendship and love. The gentle Desdemona loves her Othello for the dangers, which he survived; the manly Othello loves her for the tears, which she shed for him.

There are moments in life, when we are disposed, to press to our bosoms every flower and every distant star, every worm and every higher spirit thought of—an embrace of the whole of nature like our beloved. Thou dost understand me, my Raphael. The man, who has brought it so far, as to gather up all beauty, greatness, excellence in the small and great of nature and to find the great unity in this manifoldness, has already moved very much nearer to the Divinity. The entire creation runs into his personality. If each man loved all men, so each individual possessed the world.

The philosophy of our time—I fear—contradicts this theory. Many of our thinking heads have made it their business, to mock this heavenly instinct away from the human soul, to effact the stamp of divinity and to dissolve this energy, this noble enthusiasm in the cold, deadening breath of a pusillanimous indifference. In the slavish feeling of their own loss of worthiness, they have resigned themselves to the dangerous enemy of benevolence, self-interest, to explain a phenomenon, that was too godlike for their limited hearts. Out of a scanty egoism they have spun their comfortless theory and have made their own limits into the measure of the Creator—Degenerate slaves, who decry freedom amidst the clang of their chains. Swift, who carried the reproach of folly up to the insult of mankind and at first wrote his own name on the pillory, which he erected for the whole species, even Swift could not inflict so deadly a wound upon human nature as these dangerous thinkers, who adorn their self-interest with every display of sagacity and genius and ennoble it into a system.

Why should the entire species suffer, if several members despair of their worth?

I admit it frankly; I believe in the reality of an unself-interested love. I am lost, if it is not, I give up the Divinity, immortality and virtue. I have no further remaining proof for these hopes, if I cease, to believe in love. A spirit, which loves itself alone, is a swimming atom in the immeasurable empty space.


But love has brought forth effects, which seem to contradict its nature.

It is thinkable, that I enlarge my own happiness through a sacrifice, which I offer for the happiness of others—but also then, when this sacfifice is my life? And history has examples of such sacrifice—and I feel it lively, that it should cost me nothing, to die for Raphael’s deliverance. How is it possible, that we regard death as a means, to enlarge the sum of our enjoyments? How can the cessation of my existence agree with the enrichment of my being?

The assumption of an immortality lifts this contradiction—but it also distorts forever the high gracefulness of this appearance. Consideration of a rewarding future excludes love. There must be a virtue, which even without the beliefe in immortality suffices, which even at the danger of annihilation effects the same sacrifice.

It is indeed ennobling to the human soul to sacrifice the present advantage for the eternal—it is the noblest degree of egoism—but egoism and love separate mnankind into two higly dissimilar races, whose boundaries never flow into one another. Egoism erects its center in itself; love plants it outside of itself in the axis of the eternal whole. Love aims at unity, egoism at solitude. Love is the co-governing citizen of a blossoming free state, egoism a despot in a ravaged creation. Egoism sows for gratitude, love for ingratitude. Love gives, egoism lends—immaterial before the throne of the judging truth, whether for the enjoyment of the next-following moment, or with the view towards a martyr’s crown—immaterial, whether the tributes fall in this life or in the other!

Think thee of a truth, my Raphael, which benefits the whole human species into distant centuries—add thereto, this truth condemns its confessors to death, this truth can only be proven, only be believed, if he dies. Think thee then of the man with the bright encompassing sunny look of genius, with the flaming wheel of enthusiasm, with the wholly sublime predisposition to love. Let the complete ideal of this great effect climb aloft in his soul—let pass to him in a faint presentiment all happiness, which he shall create—let the present and the future press together at the same time in his spirit—and now answer this, does this man require the assignment to an other life?

The sum of all these perceptions will become confused with his personality, will flow together into one with his I. The human species, that he now thinks, is he himself. It is one body, in which his life, forgotten and dispensible, swims like a blood drop—how quickly will he shed it for his health!


All perfections in the universe are united in God. God and nature are two quantities, which are perfectly alike.

The whole substance of harmonic activity, which exists together in the divine substance, is in nature, the image of this substance, scattered in innumerable degrees and measures and steps. Nature (permit me this pictorial expression), nature is an infinitely divided God.

As in the prismatic glass a white stripe of light is split up into seven darker beams, the divine has been broken into countless perceiving substances. As seven darker beams melt together again in one bright stripe of light, out of the union of all these substances a divine being would issue forth. The existing form of nature’s structure is the optical glass, and all activities of the spirit only an infinite play of colors of that simple divine beam. If it pleased the Omnipotence one day, to smash this prism, so the dam between it and the world would collapse, all spirits would sink into one infinity, all accords flow into one another in one harmony, all brooks cease in one ocean.

The attractive power of the elements brought about the bodily form of nature. The attractive power of spirits, multiplied and continued into the infinite, had to lead at last to the annulment of that separation, or (may I express it, Raphael?) bring forth God. Such an attractive power is love.

Therefore love, my Raphael, is the ladder, whereby we climb aloft to divine likeness. Without laying claim thereto, unconsciously to ourselves, we aim therat.

“Lifeless groups are we, whene’er we hate,
Gods, when lovingly we do relate,
Yearning for the gentle shackles’ force.
Upwards through the thousandfold gradation
Of the countless spirits in creation,
Does this urge divinely course.

Arm in arm, e’er freer still and freer
From barbarian to Grecian seer, Who unto the last Seraph is near,
Of one mind in coiling dance we flow,
Till there in the sea of everlasting glow
Time and measure dying disappear.

Friendless was the lord o’th’ world so great,
Lack he felt, thus spirits did create,
Mirrors blest of his felicity.
Though the Highest one no equal found,
From the cup of all of being’s round,
Foams to him Infinity.”

Love, my Raphael, is the exuberantly growing arcanum to produce again the dishonored king of gold from the plain chalk, to rescue the eternal from the ephemeral, and the great oracle of duration from the destroying blaze of time.

What is the sum of all the foregoing?

Let us look into excellence, so it becomes ours. Let us become intimate with the high idealistic unity, so we shall join to one another with brotherly love. Let us plant beauty and joy, so we harvest beauty and joy. Let us think clearly, so shall we love ardently. Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect, says the founder of our belief. Weak humanity grew pale at this command, therefore He explained Himself more clearly: Love one another.

“Wisdom with the sunlike view,
Goddess great, step backward do,
Yield the way to love.
Who i’th’ steep and starry sky
Led thee like a hero nigh
To the Godhead’s room?
Who unveiled the holy home,
Showed to thee Elysium
Through the breach o’th’ tomb?

Bid us enter did not she,
Wished we immortality?
Sought we too the spirits
Without her the master?
Love and Love alone doth lead
To the Father of the seed,
Love alone the spirits.”

(Translators Note: These two stanzas are excerpted
by Schiller from his poem The Triumph of Love)

Here, my Raphael, hast thou my reason’s confession of belief, a fleeting outline of my undertaken creation. Just as thou findest here, the seed came up, which thou strewest thyself in my soul. Mock now or take joy or blush at thy student. As thou wishest—but this philosophy has ennobled my heart and beautified the perspective of my life. ’Tis possible, my Best, that the entire scaffolding of my conclusions has been a non-existent vision—the world, as I paint it here, is real perhaps nowhere, except in the brain of thy Julius—perhaps, at the end of a thousand thousand years of that Judge, when the promised wiser man sits upon the seat, at the sight of the true original I shall blushingly tear into pieces my schoolboy design—All of this may transpire, I await it; then, however, even if the reality never once resembles my dream, the reality will surprise me all the more charmingly; all the more magestically. Should my ideas be more beautiful than the ideas of the eternal Creator? How? Should He tolerate it, that His sublime work of art lagged behind the expectations of a mortal connoisseur?—

That is exactly the unique experiment of His great perfection and the sweetest triumph for the highest spirit, that even false conclusions and deception do not injure His acknowledgement, that all serpentine writhings of the unbridled reason at last strike in the straight direction of the eternal truth, at last all apostate arms of its stream run towards the same estuary. Raphael—what idea the Artist rouses in me, who distorts differently in a thousand copies, nevertheless in all the thousands remains self-similar, from whom even the devastating hand of a bungler cannot withdraw worship!

By the way, my representation could be thoroughly wrong, could be thoroughly illegitimate—still more, am I convinced, that it must necessarily be so, and nevertheless it is possible, that all results of it take place. Our whole knowledge, as all wisemen of the world agree, amounts in the end to a conventional deception, with which however the strictest truth can exist. Our purest concepts are in no way images of things, but rather merely their necessary determined and coexisting signs. Neither God, nor the human soul, nor the world is really, that which we consider them. Our thoughts of these things are only the endemic forms, wherein the planet which we inhabit delivers them over to us—our brain belongs to this planet, consequently even the idioms of our concepts, which lie preserved therein. But the power of the soul is peculiar, necessary and always self-similar: the capriciousness of the materials, through which it expresses itself, changes nothing in the eternal laws, according to which it expresses itself, so long as this capriciousness does not stand in contradiction with itself, so long as the sign remains thoroughly true to the thing designated. Thus, as the thinking power develops the relations of the idioms, these relations must also be actually present in the things. Truth, therefore, is no property of the idioms, but rather of the conclusions; not the similarity of the sign with the designated, of the concept with the object, but rather the agreement of these concepts with the laws of the thinking power.

Just so does the theory of quantity make use of ciphers, which are nowhere present except on the paper, and finds therewith, what is present in the real world. What similarity, for example, have the letters A and B, the signs “:” and “=”, “+” and “—” with the fact, that should be gained? —And yet the comet announced centuries before rises in the distant heaven, yet the expected planet steps before the disc of the sun. Upon the infallibility of his calculation the world discoverer Columbus makes a risky bet with an unnavigated ocean, to seek the missing second half of the known hemisphere, the great island of Atlantis, which should fill out the gap in his geographical map. He found it, this island of his paper, and his reckoning was right. Would it have been less so, if a hostile storm had shattered his ships or had driven them back toward their home? —The human reason makes a similar calculation, when it measures the nonsensuous with the help of the sensuous and mathematics applies its conclusions to the hidden physics of the super human. But the last test of its calculations is still lacking, for no traveller came back from that land, to tell of his discovery.

Human nature has its own limits, each individual his own. Respecting the former, we wish to comfort ourselves in turns; Raphael will grant this to the boyhood of his Julius. I am poor in conceptions, a stranger in many knowledges, which one assumes to be indispensible to investigations of this kind. I have belonged to no philosophical school and have read few printed writings. It may be, that here and there I substitute my phantasies for stricter conclusions of reason, that I exchange the boilings of my blood, the forebodings and wants of my heart for sober wisdom, also that, my Good one, shall nevertheless not cause me to regret the lost moment. It is real gain for universal perfection, it was the foresight of the wisest spirit, that the erring reason also people even the chaotic land of dreams and should make arable the barren ground of contradiction. Not the mechanical artist only, who polishes the rough diamond into the brilliant—also the other is valuable, who ennobles common stones till they approach the apparent dignity of the diamond. The industry in the forms can sometimes cause one to forget the massive truth of the matter. Is not every exercise of the thinking power, every fine sharpness of the spirit a small step towards its perfection, and every perfection must have obtained existence in the complete world. The reality is not limited to the absolutely necessary: it encompasses also the conditionally necessary; every birth of the brain, every tissue of the wit has an undeniable citizen’s right in this greater sense of creation. In the infinite design of nature no activity was to be left out, no degree of enjoyment was to be lacking to universal happiness. That great Housekeeper of His world, who lets no splinter fall unused, no gap be unpeopled, where still some enjoyment of life has room, who with the poison, that acts hostilely towards man, satisfies vipers and spiders, who sends plantings into the dead province of decay, the small blossoms of voluptuousness, which can germinate in madness, still gives out economically, who still at length processes vice and folly into excellence and knew to spin the great idea of the world-ruling Rome from the lechery of Tarquinius Sextus—This inventive spirit shall also not allow error to consume his great purpose and this wide-ranging world course to run wild in the soul of man and to lie empty of joy? Every facility of reason, even in error, increases the facility for conception of truth.

Let, dear friend of my soul, let me also bear that of mine to the wide-ranging cobweb of human wisdom. The image of the sun is painted differently in the dewdrops of the morning, differently in the majestic mirror of the earth-girdling ocean! But shame to the turbid, cloudy swamp, which never receives it and never reflects it back. Millions of plants drink from the four elements of nature. One room of provisions is open for all; but they mix their sap in a million different ways, return it in a million different ways; the beautiful manifoldness announces a rich master of the house. There are four elements, wherefrom all spirits draw: I, Nature, God, and the Future. All mix them in a million different ways, return them in a million different ways, but there is one truth, which, like a firm axis, goes commonly through all religions and all systems—“Draw near to the God, whom you love.”

Raphael to Julius

That were then certainly bad, if there were no other means, to quiet tee, Julius, than to reproduce in thee the first born of they reflection. I have again found with inner pleasure these ideas, which I saw sprouting up in thee, in thy papers. They are worthy of a soul, such as thine, but here thou couldst and mayest not remain. There are joys for every age, and enjoyments for every degree of the spirit.

Difficult must it have been for thee, to sever thyself from a system, that was so entirely created for the requirements of thine heart. No other one, I wager thereon, will ever again strike such deep roots in thee, and perhaps mayest thou be left entirely but to thyself, in order to become reconciled again sooner or later to thy favorite ideas. The weaknesses of the opposite systems thou wouldst soon observe, and then in their equal unprovability, prefer the one most worthy of being desired, or perhaps discover new grounds of proof, to rescue at least that which is essential thereof, even if thou hadst to abandon some ventured assertions.

But all of this is not in my plan. Thou shalt arrive at a higher freedom of the spirit, where thou art no more in need of such expedients. This is of course not the work of a moment. The ordinary aim of the earliest education is subjugation of the spirit; of all the feats of the art of education this almost always succeeds the first. Even thou in all the elasticity of thy character appearest determined to a wiling submission to the domination of opinions before thousands of others, and this condition of being under age could last in thee all the longer, the less thou feelest the oppression thereof. Head and heart are in thee in the closest connection. The theory became of worth to thee through the teacher. Soon thou didst succeed, to discover an interesting side therein, to ennoble it according to the needs of thine heart, and in regard to the points, which had to be striking to thee, to becalm thyself through resignation. Attacks against such opinions thou didst despise, as boyish revenge of a slavish soul against the rod of the disciplinarian. Thou madest a show with thy fetters, which thou didst believe to carry of thine own free choice.

So I found thee, and it was a sorrowful sight, how thou wert so often hemmed in by anxiouis considerations in the midst of the enjoyment of thy most blossoming life, and in the expression of thy most noble powers. The consistency, with which thou actest according to thy convictions, and the strength of the soul, which made every sacrifice light to thee, were double restrictions of thine activity and thy joys. Then I resolved to frustrate those bungling efforts, whereby one had sought to compel a spirit, like thine, into the form of everyday heads. Everything depended thereon, to make thee attentive to the worth of self-thinking, and to infuse thee with confidence in thine own powers. The result of thy first attempts favored my intention. Thy phantasie was indeed more employed thereby, than thy acumen. Its presentiments compensated thee more rapidly for the loss of thy most dear convictions, than thou couldst expect from the snail’s pace of cold-blooded research, which progresses stepwise from the known to the unknown. However, even this inspired system gave thee the first enjoyment in this new field of activity and I guarded myself more against destroying a welcome enthusiasm, which promoted the development of thy most excellent predisposition. Now the scene has changed. The return under the guardianship of thy childhood is obstructed forever. Thy way goes forward, and thou dost require no further sparing.

That a system such as thine could not endure the test of a strong criticism, may not surprise thee. All attempts of this kind, which resemble thine in boldness and breadth of extent, have no other fate. Also nothing was more natural, than that thy philosophical career began with thee individually, as with the human species as a whole. The first object, on which the human spirit of research attempted, was always—the universe. Hypothesis about the origin of the cosmos and the coherence of its parts had occupied the greatest thinkers for centuries, when Socrates called the philosophy of his times down from the heaven to the earth. But the boundaries of the wisdom of life were too narrow for the proud thirst for knowledge of his followers. New systems arose from the debris of the old. The acument of later times roamed through the immeasurable field of possible answers to those ever anew obtruding questions about the mysterious interior of nature, which could be uncovered through no human experience. Some indeed succeeded, to give the results of their reflections a color of certainty, completeness and evidence. There are many juggling arts, whereby the vain reason seeks to escape the disagrace, not to be able to step beyond the bounds of human nature in the extension of its knowledge. Soon one believes to have uncovered new truths, when one takes apart a concept into the individual components, out of which it was first capriciously composed. Soon an imperceptible assumption serves as the basis of a chain of conclusions, whose gaps one knows how to slyly conceal, and the surreptitiously obtained conclusions are wondered at as high wisdom. Soon one accumulates one-sided experience, in order to found an hypothesis, and conceals the contradictory phenomena, or one mistakes the meaning of words according to the requirements of the line of reasoning. And there are not only artifices for the philosophical charlatan, to deceive his public. Even the most honest, most unprejudiced researcher often employs similar means, without being conscious of it, to satisfy his thirst for knowledge, so soon as he once steps out of the sphere, in which alone his reason can legitimately enjoy the results of its activity.

After what thou hast formerly heard from me, Julius, these expressions must not surprise thee a little. And yet they are not the product of a sceptical whim. I can give thee an account of the grounds, whereon they rest, but hereto I would indeed have to send out in advance a somewhat dry examination into the nature of human knowledge, which I prefer to save for a time, when it will be a requirement for thee. Thou art not yet in that state of mind, where the humiliating truths of the limits of human knowledge can be of interest to thee. First make an attempt at a system, which pushed aside that of thine own with thee. Examine it with the same impartiality and severity. Proceed just the same with the other theoretical structures, which have recently become known to thee; and if none completely satisfies all of thy demands, then the question will be forced upon thee: whether these demands were also really just?

“A disagreeable consolation,” wilt thou say. “Resignation is therefore mine whole prospect after so many glowing hopes? Was it indeed then worth the effort, to summon me to the full employment of my reason, in order to establish bounds to it right then, when it begins to become the most fruitful to me? Did I have to become acquainted with a higher enjoyment, only in order to feel doubly the pain of my limitations?”

And yet it is just this suppressed feeling, which I would so gladly put down in thee. To remove everything, which hinders thee in the full enjoyment of thy existence to bring to life in thee, the germ of every higher inspiration—the consciousness of the nobility of thy soul—this is mine aim. Thou art awakened from the slumber, in which slavery rocked thee among strange opinions. But the measure of the greatness, whereto thou art determined, wouldst thou never fulfill, if thou didst squander thy strength in striving after an unattainable goal. Until now this might have passed, and was also a natural consequence of thy newly achieved freedom. The ideas, which had occupied thee formerly for the most part necessarily had to give the first direction to the activity of thy spirit. Whether this be the most fruitful among all the possible ones, thy own experiences would have to inform thee sooner or later. My job was simply, to accelerate, where possible, this moment.

It is an ordinary prejudice, to estimate the greatness of man according to the matter, with which he is employed, not according to the manner, in which he works upon it. But a higher being certainly honors the stamp of perfection even in the smallest sphere, when in comparison he looks down with pity upon the vain attempt, to survey the cosmos with the sight of an insect. Among all the ideas which are contained in thy essay, I can grant thee from this least of all the proposition, that it be the highest determination of man, to divine the spirit of the Creator of the world in his work of art. Indeed, I also know no more sublime image than art to express the activity of the most perfect being. But an important distinction thou dost appear to have overlooked. The universe is no pure impression of an ideal, like the completed work of a human artist. The latter rules despotically over the dead matter, which he uses to render sensuous his ideas. But in the divine art work, the peculiar value of each of its components is looked after, and this preserving view, with which he values every germ of energy even in the smallest creature, glorifies the master just so much, as the harmony of the immeasurable whole. Life and Freedom, to the greatest possible extent, is the stamp of divine creation. It is never more sublime, than, where it seems to be most short of its ideal. But even this higher perfection can not be grasped by us in our present limitation. We survey a too small part of the cosmos, and the resolution of the great abundance of dissonances is unachievable to our ears. Every step, which we climb up the ladder of being, will make us more susceptible of this enjoyment of art, but even then it certainly has its value only as a means, only insofar as it inspires us to similar activity. Lazy admiration of an unknown greatness can never be a higher merit. The nobler man is neither lacking in matter for his efficacy nor in the powers, to become himself a creator in his own sphere. And this vocation is also thine, Julius. Hast thou once recognized it, so wil it never occur to thee again, to complain about the limits, which thy thirst for knowledge can not overstep.

And this is the moment, which I expect, to see thee completely reconciled with me. First must the extent of thy powers become fully known to thee, before thou canst appreciate the value of its freest expression. Until then, be angry with me always, only do not despair of thyself.

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Friedrich Schiller' Poem: " The Artists"

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, August 21, 2007

translated by Marianna Wertz

How fair, O Man, do you, your palm branch holding
Stand at the century's unfolding
In proud and noble manhood's prime
With faculties revealed, with spirit's fullness
Full earnest mild, in action-wealthy stillness,
The ripest son of time,
Free through reason, strong through law's measure,
Through meekness great, and rich in treasure,
Which long your breast to you did not disclose,
Nature's own lord, she glories in your bridle,
Who in a thousand fights assays your mettle
And shining under you from out the wild arose!

Besot with vic'try operose,
Let not the hand be now forgotten,
Which on life's desolated strand
The whimpering abandoned orphan,
A savage fortune's booty, found,
The spirit's future dignity did early
To your young heart in silentness display,
And sullied concupiscence surely
Did from your tender bosom turn away,
The good one, who in lofty duty
Did playfully instruct your youthfulness,
And the elevated virtue's myst'ry
In easy riddles left for you to guess,
Who, more mature to see him on returning,
In foreign arms her darling one she laid,
O fall not to degenerated yearning
To be her abject serving woman's maid!
In labor is the bee your master,
In skillfulness the earthworm has your teacher grown,
Your knowledge you do share with spirit minds far vaster,
'Tis {Art,} O Man, you have alone!

The land which knowledge does reside in
You reached through beauty's morning gate.
Its higher gleam to now abide in,
The mind on charms must concentrate.
What by the sound of Muses' singing
With trembling sweet did pierce you through,
A strength unto your bosom bringing
Which to the world-soul lifted you.

What, after many thousand years' expiring,
An aging reason first did find,
In symbol great and beautiful was lying
Revealed before unto the childlike mind.
To virtue's love her sweet form has us drafted,
A softer sense did bold depravity restrain
Ere yet a Solon legislation crafted,
Whose languid blooms did slow constrain.
Oh! Ere the thinker's spirit daring
Had of e'erlasting space conceived,
Who to the starry theater staring,
Ne'er its presentiment perceived?

She, with Orions circling her visage,
To glorify her majesty sublime,
As purer spirits contemplate her image
Consuming, o'er the stars does climb,
Upon her sunny throne upraising,
Urania, so dreadful yet so grand,
Unburdened of her crown ablazing,
Does there--as {Beauty} 'fore us stand.
The belt of grace 'round her receiving,
That she, as child, the children understand:
What here as Beauty we're perceiving,
Will first as {Truth} before us come to stand.

When the Creator from out His living presence
All mankind to mortality expelled,
And to the light, a later reappearance
To find on senses' heavy path compelled,
When all of Heaven's beings turned from him their faces,
She chose, alone, with man to be,
With the forsaken, banished races,
Magnanimous, in their mortality.
Here she in sloping flight does hover,
Around her love in land of senses' thrall,
And paints, deceiving as a lover,
Elysium upon his prison wall.

When in this nurse's arms so tender,
The frail mankind still reposed,
There holy bloodlust stirred up not an ember,
There guiltless blood was not exposed.
The heart, which she directs in gentle binding,
The servile retinue of Duty does disdain,
Her light's path falling, lovelier but winding,
Onto morality's sunlighted plain.
They who her service chaste abided
No baser urges tempt, no fates affright,
As under holy power they resided,
Then with pure spirit lives they are united
Again into sweet freedom's right.

The blissful, whom from millions, to her serving
The purest, she did consecrate,
Within whose breast she deemed her throne deserving
And through whose mouth did mightiness relate,
Whom she selected at e'er-flaming altars
To see her holy fire never falters,
Without a veil appeared she only 'fore their eye,
Whom she in tender union would ally!
Rejoice then in the honorable standing
Wherein high order has uplifted you:
In the exalted spirit world 'tis true,
You held of man the highest standing.

Till you proportion to the world brought back,
Which serve with joy all things created,
A boundless form, arrayed in evening crepe of black,
Close 'round him here, by feeble beams illuminated,
A shape of troops pugnaciously,
Which held his sense in slav'ry's bands restrained,
And rough, unsocialized as he,
At him their thousand powers trained,
--So stood creation 'fore the savage.
Within blind appetite's complete control,
By mere appearances now bidden,
Flies by him, unenjoyed and ever hidden,
So beautif'ly fair Nature's soul.

And as she fleeting overhead now stole,
You caught the friendly spirits up in tether
With tender sense, with quiet hand,
And learned how in harmonious band
To bring them socially together.
So lightly floating felt the view
Of slender shapes of cedar cultivated;
The crystal of the billows radiated
The quiv'ring image back to you.
How could you miss the lovely intimation,
With which, benevolent, fair Nature toward you drew?

Then Art, to steal her shadow forth in imitation,
The image swimming on the wave displayed to you.
Her very being parted from her,
A phantom of herself, as dream,
She jumped into the silver stream,
Herself to offer to her robber.
The beaut'ous plastic art awoke within your heart.
Too noble not at rest to be conceiving
In sand, in clay--did you to shadow life impart,
In outline its substantial self receiving.
The sweet desire for action lively woke--
From out your breast the first creation broke.

Held under careful observation
And captured by your watchful view,
The private forms betrayed in revelation
The talisman, which captivated you.
The wonder-working laws, the measure
Of charm's investigated treasure
In gentle bond were by inventive mind
Into your handiwork combined.
The obelisk and pyramid ascended,
The herm arose, the column sprang on high,
The forest's melody from reedy pipe flowed by,
And heroes' deeds in singing never ended.

The sampling of a flow'ry bed
Is bound in nosegay with a sage selection,
And thus did Art from Nature first e'er tread;
Then nosegays were into a wreath wound in collection,
And thus a second, higher Art began
From the creative hand of Man.
The child of Beauty, needing no more,
Perfected as if from your hand departed,
The crown does forfeit, that it wore,
Once actuality's imparted.
The column must, unto proportion bent,
Close ranks with all its sisters in formation,
To Maenad's harp in acclamation,
The hero in the hero host is blent.

Soon gathered near barbarians, astounded,
To see the new creations forth they ran.
Look, the delighted crowd resounded,
Look there, all this was done by Man!
As happy and more social pairs abounded,
They seized hold of the singer's lyre,
Which titans, giant battles celebrated
And lion-slayers, who, while singers did inspire,
From out their hearers heroes had created.
Then, first time, did the mind partake
Of joys more peaceful, reassuring,
Which are but from afar alluring,
Which won't its creature greed awake,
Which though enjoyed are still enduring.

Now from its carnal sleep did wrestle
The soul, so beautiful and free,
By you unchained sprang forth the vassal
Of care in lap of joy to be.
Now limits of the beast abated
And Man on his unclouded brow rang out,
And thought, that foreign stranger elevated,
From his astonished brain sprang out.
Now {stood} Man, and to starry legions
Displayed his kingly countenance,
Then to these lofty sunlit regions
His thanks conveyed through speaking glance.
Upon his cheek did smiling flower,
His voice, by sentiments now played,
Unfolded into song's full power,
Emotions moistened eye betrayed,
And jest, with charm in graceful federation,
His lips poured out in animation.

Entombed in instincts worms inherit,
In carnal pleasure full entwined,
You recognized within his mind
The noble seed of loving spirit.
Though love did instinct base inherit,
That better seed from out did bring
He thanks that shepherd first did sing.
Unto thought's level elevated
Desire more modest then cascaded
Melodic'ly from singer's mouth.
The cheeks from dew drops softly burning,
The steadfast, unextinguished yearning,
The union of all souls set forth.

The wisdom of the wise, the mild's mildness,
Nobility's grace, the strong one's power
You wed into a single likeness
And placed it into glory's bower.
The man who 'fore the unknown trembled,
Its mere reflection came to love;
Great heroes burning he assembled,
To equal that great One above.
From all archtypal Beauty the first ringing
{You} made in Nature to resound in singing.

The passions' frenzied, wild stress,
The lawless whims of fortune,
The instincts' and the duties' press
You set with your acute emotion
On straight-edge to their destination.
What Nature in her great and grand procession
In widespread distances has torn apart,
Becomes in play, in song's expression
Coherent, easy to impart.
By Furies' singing much affected,
The murder draws, though not detected,
The fate of death from out their art.
And long ere sages venture with a finding,
An Iliad is fortune's mysteries unwinding
For young antiquity unfurled;
From Thespis' chariot descending
Came Providence into the world.

But in the great course of the world
Too early was your symmetry ascending.
When swarthy hand of destiny,
What she before your eye had raveled,
Would not before your eye untie,
Then life to the abyss did fly,
Before full lovely circle traveled--
Then you did draw, with bold, audacious might,
The arc still further into future's night;
Then hurled yourself and never quivered
Into Avernus' swarthy ocean wave
And there the life that fled discovered
Beyond the urn, beyond the grave;
And then appeared with torch o'erturned the image
Of blooming Pollux, who on Castor leans so nigh:
The shadow that completes the Moon's full visage,
Before the silver circle fills on high.

Yet higher still, to ever higher stations
Creative genius soared to be.
One sees already rise creations from creations
From harmonies comes harmony.
What here delights the drunken eye alone,
Is there in service to the higher beauty;
The charms which do this nymph adorn,
In a divine Athena soften gently:
The forces which in wrestler's muscle rage,
Must seek in godly Beauty silence tender;
The figure proud of Jove, the wonder of his age,
Does in Olympus' temple homage render.

The world, transformed by labor's hand,
The human heart, by new impulses greeted,
And exercised in battles heated,
Do your creation's scope expand.
So Man, now far advanced, on pinions elevated,
With thanks does Art transport on high,
New worlds of beauty are created
From nature richer made thereby.
The bounds of knowledge melt away,
The mind, in your light vic'tries sharpened,
In mere enjoyments quickly ripened
To race through all the artificial powers,
Does set its sights on Nature's distant towers,
And overtakes her on her dusky way.
He weighs her now with human calculations,
Does gauge with measures she herself has lent;
Much better versed in Beauty's obligations,
To pass before his eye she now is sent.
In self-contented, youthful joy he raises
In loan unto the spheres his harmony,
The universal edifice he praises
And shows it off as symmetry.

Now everything that he discovers
Does tell him of proportion fair.
Fair Beauty's golden belt uncovers
In his life's course her weaving there;
While blest Perfection 'fore him hovers
In all your works victoriously e'er.
Wherever joy unblemished hurries,
Wherever silent sorrow flees,
Where contemplation thoughtful tarries,
Where tears of misery he sees,
Where thousand frights at him are 'raying;
Do follow seas of harmony,
He sees the Graces three in playing,
And, his emotions soft-refined displaying,
He strives to join the lovely company.
Soft, as the lines alluring coil together,
As all phenomena around
In softened contour blend in one another
Just so, his life's light breath is bound.
His spirit melts in Harmony's great ocean,
Which 'round his senses lustfully now flows
And quietly his thoughts, enraptured, close
On ever-present Cytherea, in devotion.
With destiny in lofty unity,
Sustained in calm on Muses and on Graces,
His friendly breast exposed obligingly,
Is struck as threat'ning arrow races
From gentle bowstring of necessity.

The trusted favorites of blessed Harmony,
Companions who to gladden life have striven,
The noblest and the dearest, those which she,
Who gave us life, that we might live has given!
That man unshackled of his duty now takes heed,
The fetters loves which him do lead,
Not prey to iron scepter of contingency,
{This} thanks you--your eternity,
And a sublime reward is your heart's treasure.
That 'round the cup in which our freedoms run
The gods of joy do joke with pleasure,
The charming dream is lovely spun,
Embraced for this be, in full measure!
The Spirit glittering and bright,
Who cloaked Necessity with grace, does order
Unto his starry vault, unto his ether,
To serve us graciously and right,
Who in destruction still adorns himself, delights us
With the sublime where he affrights us,
To be like this great Artist seek.
As on the brooklet mirror-sleek
The bright-hued banks a-dancing glimmer
With sunset's glow and flow'ry field,
So on our barren life does shimmer
The poet's lively shadow-world.
You have to us, as bride garmented,
The frightening unknown presented,
Our destiny without relent.
Just as your urns the bones do cover,
You put a magic, sweet sheen over
The dreadful sorrow's choir lament.
Throughout millenia I've hurried,
In boundless realm of ages past,
How Mankind laughs where'er you've tarried,
How dreary when you're gone at last.

What once with feathers soaring upward
Full force from your creating hands did climb,
Again itself within your arms discovered,
When silent victory of time
From off his cheeks life's rosy flower
The strength from out his members stole
And sadly, steps now lacking power,
The old man staggered on his pole.
Then you from fountain freshly rendered
The wave of life to thirsty tendered;
Twice did the epoch gain its youth anew,
Twice from the seed which you yourself did strew.

By savage hordes expatriated,
The last of off'ring brands you snatched away
From Orient's fair altars desecrated
And brought it to the Occident to stay.
There dawned the lovely fugitive much feted,
The new day, from the East, now in the West,
And on Hesperia's meadows germinated
Ionia's renewed and blooming best.
Into men's souls now cast a Nature fairer
Soft mirroring, a fair reflection bright,
And in these souls bejewelled there came aglitter
To reign the goddess great of light.
One saw the falling of a million shackles,
And for the slaves the rights of men now heard,
As brother peacefully with brother travels,
So mildly has the young mankind matured.
With inner lofty joy inspired
Of fortune's gift you take your part,
And in humility attired
With silent merit you depart.

If on the paths of thought without obstruction
Now roams th'investigator, fortune bold,
And, drunken with the paeons' loud eruption,
He reaches rashly for the crown to hold;
If now it is his rash conception
To noble guide dispatch with hireling's bread,
While by Art's dreamed-for throne's erection
The first slave office to permit instead:--
Forgive him--th'crown of all perfection
Does hover bright above your head.
With you, the spring's first blooming flower,
Fair Nature's soul-formation first arose,
With you, the harvest's joyful power,
Does Nature's self-perfecting close.

Emerged from humble clay, from stoney traces,
Creative Art, with peaceful victories embraces
The mind's unmeasured, vast domain.
What but discoverers in knowledge's high places
Can conquer, did for you its conquest gain.
The treasures which the thinker has collected
Will only in your arms first warm his heart,
When science is, by beauty ripened and perfected,
Ennobled to a work of art--
When he up to the hilltop with you sallies
And to his eye, in evening's shining part,
Is suddenly revealed--the lovely valleys.

The richer satisfied his fleeting vision,
The loftier the orders which the mind
Does fly through in {one} magic union,
Does circumscribe in {one} enjoyment blind;
The wider ope are thoughts and feelings growing
To richer play of harmonies now showing,
To beauty's more abundant streaming van--
The lovelier the pieces of the universal plan,
Which now, disfigured, tarnish its creation,
He then sees lofty forms bring to perfection.
The lovelier the riddles from the night,
The richer is the world that he embraces,
The broader streams the sea in which he races,
The weaker grows his destiny's blind might,
The higher are his urges striving,
The smaller he himself, the greater grows his loving.

So lead him, the hidden pathway show
Through ever purer forms, through music clearer,
Through ever higher heights and beauty fuller
Up poetry's beflowered ladder go--
At last, at epoch's ripest hour,
Yet one more happy inspiration bright,
The recent age of Man's poetic flight,
And--he will glide in arms of Truth's full power.

And she, the gently Cypria,
By fiery crown illuminated,
Before her son-grown-man now elevated,
Unveiled--as Urania;
So much the sooner by him sighted,
The {lovelier,} from her now flown!
Thus sweet, thus happily delighted
Stood once Ulysses' noble son,
When she, divine, who shared his youth as partner,
Was then transfigured to Jove's daughter.

The dignity of Man into your hands is given,
Protector be!
It sinks with you! With you it is arisen!
The sacred magic of poetry
A world-plan wise is serving
To th'ocean, steer it e'er unswerving,
Of lofty harmony!

Fair Truth, by her own time rejected,
By Poetry now be protected,
And refuge find in the Muses' choir.
In highest and abundant splendor,
More fright'ning in her veil of wonder,
Then let her rise aloft in singing
And vengeance win with music ringing
Upon her persecutor's ear.

You free sons of the freest mother,
Swing upward with a constant face,
And strive then after no crown other,
To highest Beauty's beaming place.
The sisters who from here departed
In the mother's lap you soon will see;
What souls of beauty have imparted
Must excellent and perfect be.
Uplift yourselves on wings emboldened
Above your epoch's course be drawn;
See in your mirror now engoldened
The coming century's fair dawn.
On thousand twisting pathways chasing,
So rich in multiplicity,
Come forward, then, with arms embracing
Around the throne of unity.
As into gentle beams of seven
Divides the lovely shimmer white,
As also rainbow beams of seven
Dissolve into white beams of light--
So, play in thousandfolded clar'ty,
Enchanted 'round the heady sight,
So flow back in {one} band of ver'ty,
Into {one} single stream of light!


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Quote on Art and Literature

    "There is only one school of literature - that of talent."
~ Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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