A. S. Dmitriev 1975


Author: A. S. Dmitriev;
Written: 1975;
First published: 1975 in Vestnik MGU, no. 2, pp. 30-40;
Source: https://md-eksperiment.org/ru/post/20190221-esteticheskij-ideal-novalisa
Translated: by Anton P.

Novalis’ aesthetic ideal in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen

In modern studies dealing with German Romanticism, the biggest number of works is devoted to Novalis. His novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1800), reflects the world outlook and the aesthetic concept of Jena Romanticism in a much broader sense than the works of Wackenroder and Tieck, even than Lucinde by Friedrich Schlegel. “Novalis is the key to understanding Jena Romanticism,” notes the author of one of the monographs devoted to his work.

Along with Tieck, Novalis was a really talented artist, and this should be emphasized in connection with the fact that in many works about Novalis of recent times his theoretical legacy is made absolute. Establishing a connection between some of his ideas with the philosophical and aesthetic thought of our time, Novalis is presented as a kind of prophet endowed with the gift of brilliant insight. They write about Novalis the philosopher, Novalis the politician, Novalis the mathematician. Novalis appears to be a world-class thinker whose importance has not yet been adequately appreciated. Novalis is made the direct forerunner of Hegel, Nietzsche, Einstein, and existentialists. And in all these works, the main thing is missed: Novalis the poet, Novalis the artist – there are essentially no works about this Novalis.

The place of Novalis in the Jena school is determined not less, and perhaps even more, by his artistic rather than his theoretical heritage. His talent was especially clearly manifested in the poetic cycle Hymns to the Night and in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen. At the same time, of course, one should not forget about the contradictions and weaknesses of the artistic manner of Novalis the novelist, which were inherent in him as a certain creative individuality and at the same time expressed the typological features of the genre associated with the then stage of development of the novel in German literature in general. Consequently, the point here is not only and not so much that, like Tieck’s novel about Sternbald, Novalis’ novel remained a fragment. (This circumstance may even to some extent more favorably emphasize the strengths of the realized part of the huge plan that underlies the work on the novel.)

With his novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen Novalis, along with Goethe and Tieck, made a significant contribution to the development of a type of novel that was extremely promising for the subsequent development of German literature up to modern times – the “novel of education” (Bildungsroman), which received various modifications from Loyal Subject by Heinrich Mann and Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann to The Adventures of Werner Holt by Dieter Noll. If we agree that the meaning of a work of art is formed both from its ideological and artistic merits and from the role it played in the historical and literary process, then in the assessment of Novalis’ novel, the emphasis, perhaps, will still prevail on the second – historical – literary aspect. The “novel of education” at the then stage of development of German literature was just taking shape. With a certain schematic character of the images in the novels of Tieck and Novalis, with a weak psychological motivation of the characters, the weaknesses of their compositional construction were especially pronounced – the novels were a chain of dialogues, conversations, interspersed or inserted novellas (almost always these were the stories of characters), or fairy tales.

Such a decision of the genre, for example, in Tieck’s novel about Sternbald, determined its compositional looseness, internal fragmentation, and the lack of dynamism in the narrative. The complex symbolism in Novalis’ novel, allegories requiring special decoding (Klingsor’s tale), clearly complicate the reader’s perception. It should be recognized that the reasoning expressed by one of the researchers of Novalis’ work, that his fantasy is of a rational nature: unlike the fantasy of Tieck and Hoffmann, which is one way or another connected with reality, the fantasy of Novalis has its source in literary, philosophical and mystical ideas, from the totality of which all his creativity is constructed. At the same time, one cannot but see in these aspects of the creative manner of Novalis the novelist and certain constructive ideological and aesthetic contradictions, since behind these abstractions and allegories the contours of a Romantic utopia were hidden, close in idea to Schiller’s concept, according to which the path to freedom goes only through beauty.

As for the artistic skill of Novalis as a stylist, in most of its pages the novel presents the best examples of the poetical prose of the Romantics. The attraction to allegoricality and symbolism in the novel, a fabulous haze enveloping the entire image, is combined with a simple and clear, transparent language. The vocabulary of living literary speech is used by Novalis in relaxed, flowing syntactic constructions that give a special poetic lightness to the language of the novel. One cannot but admit, following Haym (who was not very generous in praise for the Jena Romantics), that this novel is “one of the most instructive and remarkable phenomena in the history of German thought and literature.”

Novalis’ novel essentially absorbed all the basic ideas contained both in his Fragments and in the lyrics and philosophical story Disciples in Sais. Therefore, he is a work that is so representative of the characteristics of the philosophical and aesthetic system of Jena Romanticism. It is often rightly pointed out that it is close to Tieck’s novel The Wanderings of Franz Sternbald. According to Tieck himself, his novel made a great impression on Novalis, about which Tieck wrote in the afterword to his works: “Several years later my dear friend Novalis was so fascinated by my novel that he assured me more than once that he was constantly thinking about this book while working on his Ofterdingen.” A common outlook and close friendly relations undoubtedly played a role here. Both novels are similar not only as variants of the “educational novel”, but are also similar in some more particular aspects. Tieck and Novalis projected their Romantic utopia (this side is more developed in Novalis) into the distant past. Both novels show the formation of the artist’s personality. Both novels reflect a departure from Fichte’s philosophy. This is especially significant for Novalis’ novel – it is closer to Schelling than to Fichte.

In accordance with the Romantic worldview and aesthetics, the center of the narrative is the personality of the artist, the poet, who is the bearer of the highest form of human consciousness, who realizes himself most fully in the atmosphere of an allegorical fairy tale (Klingsor’s tale), where the eternal Golden Age is affirmed by the efforts of Fable-Poetry under the shadow of the union of Eros and Freya – Love and Freedom. Poetry is the soul of life in this kingdom, and the sacred Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, is the main priestess. The novel is subjective primarily because it is autobiographical. His hero in no way correlates with his historical prototype – the minnesinger of the early 13th century. We will find even less concrete historical determinism in him than in that of Sternbald. Novalis’ Ofterdingen is even more a bearer of the Romantic consciousness than Sternbald. In the form of a Romantic allegory, external facts of Novalis’ short life are also reproduced – love for Sophia von Kühn-Matilda, her death, the revival of Matilda in Cyan-Julia Charlantier, Novalis’ second bride, his studies in geology and mining (Novalis immortalized here his teacher Werner, one of the founders of geological science); Novalis chose Goethe as the prototype of Klingsor as the greatest poet. But Ofterdingen is still very young. In the first part of the novel, he is not yet a poet, he is only preparing to become one. Therefore, he cannot fully be the mouthpiece of the author’s ideas, which are largely expressed in the novel on behalf of the author himself.

At the same time, Romantic subjectivism as a philosophical and aesthetic category is noticeably weakened in Novalis’ novel in comparison with Wackenroder’s Biography of Berglinger, Tieck’s Sternbald, and Lucinde by Friedrich Schlegel. Mystical pantheism, the influence of Schelling’s ideas about the identity of spirit and nature, a gravitation towards objective idealism are palpable in the philosophical subtext of the novel. In this regard, Novalis has completely different intonations determine the correlation of the hero with the surrounding reality in comparison with the named works of other Jena Romantics. The hero in Novalis’ utopia appears in essence on an equal footing with his environment. It is determined by it. He himself is a character as utopian as his environment is. But at the same time it is easy to see that this environment itself in the construction of utopia by Novalis plays the same important role as the character of the hero. Note that the term environment is much more preferable here than the term reality, since reality as such is absent in the novel at all, and its equivalent is fabulous-utopian accessories. It cannot be argued that the path along which Heinrich goes is certainly harmonious and completely conflict-free. This statement would be especially wrong if the novel’s intention was fully realized (at least in the form as it is set out by Tieck). And the written beginning of the second part depicts Heinrich plunged into the depths of a severe mental depression. But still, Heinrich’s inner world is whole and harmonious. The hero is unaware of Sternbald’s restless searches, and even more so of Berglinger’s acute conflicts with reality.

Novalis’ novel became an indicative work of Romantic literature, because it especially sounded the idea of ​​striving for a vague and indefinite Romantic ideal. This striving is symbolized in the image of a “blue flower”, merging in turn with the ideal beloved, which Heinrich finds in the image of Matilda, and then, having lost her, finds again, but already reincarnated into Cyana. It would seem that the ideal has been reached and the end of the quest has been found. This is how the idea should be understood (the “blue flower” if it is associated only with the beloved, as is done in many interpretations of the novel. But, obviously, the symbol of the “blue flower” in Novalis has a much broader meaning. The ideal is also cognition, the path of cognition through which the hero of Novalis must pass. And his milestones are love, death, war, history, nature, poetry, power (the court of Frederick II), the ancient world, the East and even in some then commodity-money relations. The beloved is only a part of this ideal, only a milestone on this grandiose path of comprehension. And judging by the outlines of the unfinished Second Part of the novel, Heinrich’s earthly life is not enough to complete this comprehension. In the “Accomplishment” itself (the title of the second part of the novel), the hero, placed in the fabulously wonderful country of Sofia, appears in a kind of transformed hypostasis. With this interpretation of this Romantic symbol – the “blue flower” – it will most of all correspond to the philosophical the aesthetic concepts of the Jena Romantics, who rejected the completeness, finiteness of the act of cognition and affirmed the process of endless comprehension of the ideal.

The gravitation of the author of Ofterdingen to an objectively idealistic outlook did not mean, however, that he finally broke with the concepts of Fichte’s subjectivism. Quite in the spirit of a philosophically minded Romantic of Jena, the hero of Novalis says that he sees two ways of knowing the history of mankind and, obviously, two ways of knowing in general: “One path is difficult and boundless, with countless obstacles – the path of experience; the other, as if in one leap, is the path of inner contemplation.” Heinrich believes that only the second way, through intuitive cognition, can one comprehend the essence of every event, every phenomenon. It is easy to see that in a slightly modified version Novalis reproduces here essentially Fichte’s philosophical idea that underlies the story Disciples in Sais: the path to knowledge of nature lies through the knowledge of the depths of the human spirit. To this, in essence, the whole meaning of the famous fairy tale-parable about Hyacinth and the Rose from this story comes down. This idea repeatedly and in different versions arises in Novalis and in his Fragments.

Heinrich’s brief reasoning in an accumulated form reflects the philosophical side of the novel. If Heinrich clearly gives preference to the intuitive path of knowledge, then Novalis himself not only does not exclude the path of experience, but, obviously, considers it necessary. Indeed, the first part of the novel – “Waiting” – is precisely the path of a priori, intuitive knowledge through which Heinrich passes. In the second part, where the “accomplishment” was supposed to take place, that is, Heinrich’s comprehension of the essence of things and at the same time the completion of his formation as a poet, Novalis leads his hero through the same milestones as in the First part: love, death, war , poetry, history, nature, the East, but by the higher way, by the way of experience. It is then that Heinrich approaches a complete comprehension of the world. At the same time, the very concept of “experience” acquires an abstract idealistic coloring in Novalis. This is not an experience gleaned from the real givenness of concrete being, but a purely conditional experience, constructed in the fabulous-utopian sphere. This conclusion is based, however, only on the written fragment of the novel, but the second part, which, perhaps, would have introduced some historical details into the novel, would not only not change the fabulous-utopian narrative plan, but, on the contrary, would strengthen it.

The nature of the proposed ending of the novel, which, as it were, reproduces the ending of the First part, that is, the tale of Klingsor, has an important philosophical implication. What is the meaning and sense of the successful ending of the novel, the “accomplishment” to which Novalis was going to lead his hero? In essence, both the end (also assumed) of Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings and the end of Ofterdingen are the same in the sense that the arduous searches and wanderings of the heroes end with the successful acquisition of the ideal. Does this ending contradict the Romantic idea of ​​the infinite? Of course, yes. And, obviously, one of the manifestations of this contradiction was that Tieck’s novel remained unfinished. Apparently, not only the premature death prevented Novalis from completing his novel. However, both Tieck and Novalis quite consciously and clearly envisioned these successful endings. Lucinde by Friedrich Schlegel also paints a happily idyllic picture of the life of normatively ideal heroes-artists, whose serene harmony of existence is possible, in essence, only when isolated from any real social conditions. However, such a desire for a utopian idyll can hardly testify to the removal of the Romantic conflict with reality, since both the rejection of reality and attempts to constructively search for an ideal sharply different from this reality were different forms of Romantic non-conformism. Let us recall that the utopian search for a positive ideal is an essential aspect of the ideological and aesthetic positions of a number of prominent Romantics in later years also outside of German literature: Shelley, Hugo, Georges Sand and some others. Due to the specific conditions of social and ideological life in Germany at the end of the 18th century. the utopian ideas of the Jena Romantics were almost completely devoid of social intonations and were not so much a social utopia as an aesthetic one. It is in this sense that the meaning of the endings of the novels of Tieck and Novalis should be understood.

However, Ofterdingen’s utopianism is not limited to its ending. The entire novel is Novalis’ utopia. This utopia is a reaction to the French Revolution in the sense that the novel reflects Novalis’ acute disappointment in this revolution, which did not justify the hopes placed on it, because it did not bring the vague freedom that the Jena Romantics expected from it. “My heart sanks at the thought of the fact that the shackles will no longer fall like the walls of Jericho. Such a swift impulse, such a mighty impulse – and such an unexpected female cowardice,” wrote Novalis to Friedrich Schlegel on 1 August 1793. “And everywhere there is a vicious circle: for free thought, freedom is necessary, for freedom – free thought; the knot must be cut – digging and untangling is useless.”

Disappointment in the Great French Revolution did not lead Novalis to the path of searching for a social ideal that lay outside the estate system and unfair property relations. Idealizing the institutions of the obsolete feudal system, Novalis links his idea of ​​a perfect social order in the article Christianity or Europe (1799) and the fragments Faith and Love (1798) with them. But no matter how far the author of these works is from the social and political ideas of the French Revolution, they constantly make themselves felt here. Hence, many glaring contradictions of the fragments of Faith and Love. Affirming the monarchical principle of government, Novalis believes that this very principle is based on the idea of ​​equality of citizens. In other words, he considers civil equality a necessary prerequisite for fair social relations. Therefore, the king and the republic in his view are one, and revolutions are natural, but they must be restrained. The morals of court life and the Prussian state itself are subjected to rather sharp criticism.

The article Christianity or Europe – this elegy of the former power of the Catholic Church, of the outgoing Christianity – expresses such obscurantist ideas that Novalis’ friends published it only many years after the author’s death. Novalis here condemns the Great French Revolution as meaningless, speaks sharply negatively about Enlightenment ideas, which, as he notes, have become the antipode of religion in France, in chauvinistic intonations speaks of a certain special path (Sonderweg) of Germany, which is going ahead of other countries. At the same time, the author comprehends his modernity as an era of irreconcilable collision of two worlds – old and new, and quite objectively evaluates the positions of both, believing that only religion can eliminate this conflict. As a result, he calls for the establishment of a new religion, which, however, remarkably, should not at all represent a simple restoration of the Catholic religion, undermined by the outbreak of the Protestant movement, but should become a kind of synthesis of Protestantism and Catholicism. The essence of this new religion, according to Novalis, will be genuine freedom.

It is clear that these ideas of Novalis the publicist did not pass without leaving a trace for Novalis the novelist. But it would be completely wrong to believe that the novel is based on the socio-political ideas of journalism, and to assert that in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen Novalis idealizes the feudal Middle Ages and calls for its restoration. Indeed, Novalis projects his aesthetic ideal, his utopia into Germany’s feudal past. But Germany at the beginning of the 13th century in the novel has as little in common with the real Germany of that time as the hero of the novel does with his real prototype. Moreover, Novalis’ projection of the ideal is not limited only by the conventionality of this Middle Ages, which stands on the verge of a fairy tale, it directly switches into a fairy tale – this is Klingsor’s tale in the First Part and a complete removal of the concrete historical background in the intended finale of the novel with the transfer of the action to the conditions of an emphatically fabulous atmosphere. Novalis sets his task not so much to present the picture of feudal relations in an idealized light, as Vigny tried to do it to a certain extent in the novel Cinq Mars, but to create a Romantic atmosphere of a poetic half-fairy idyll: such an idyll was allegedly the German Middle Ages – “a thoughtful romantic era, concealing greatness under a modest dress.”

Only in this sense should one speak of the idealization of the feudal past in Novalis’ novel. This “Romantic era” in his interpretation is thoroughly poetic, in its depiction there is not even a hint of class, social relations, they are not shown even in the spirit of a patriarchal idyll, as Tieck did nevertheless in The Wanderings of Franz Sternbald, although Novalis’ novel contains estates – merchants, peasants, knights, artisans (Ofterdingen’s father), and in the second part it was supposed to show even Frederick II and his brilliant court. But there is no church, no ministers! But the publicist Novalis in his article Christianity or Europe is trying to paint a picture of the future prosperity of Europe with the realized universal freedom, which was brought to it not by the Great French Revolution, but by the revival of the religious spirit. This last circumstance serves as an additional confirmation not so much of Novalis’ contradictions as of the fact that, as an artist, he was not at all an illustrator of his social views set forth in journalism. One can fully agree with the author of one of the last works about Tieck, who writes: “The fact that the reality in Germany at that time did not give Romantics the opportunity to see the paths of further progress explains their appeal to the Middle Ages, which, however, in particular in Tieck, never expressed itself in an attempt to restore the social conditions of the Middle Ages, or even their propaganda.” If not completely, then to a large extent this judgment about Tieck is also true in relation to Novalis.

Note that a fundamental abstraction from any social and concrete historical determinants also led to the fact that all the characters in the novel – both Heinrich and his mother, and Klingsor, the merchants, and Count Hohenzollern – speak the same language, in which there is not a hint of individual and social coloring. It could not have been in such a novel as Heinrich von Ofterdingen, since it is a fairy tale novel, whose characters from different positions set out the philosophical and aesthetic concept of the author. Here the influence of Goethe and the educational philosophical novel in general is very noticeable.

The monarchical ideal of Novalis should have sounded quite clearly in the second part of the novel. And here the author largely anticipates the political ideas of late Romanticism in Germany, which was consonant with the poeticization of war and crusades. However, one should not rush to the conclusion that Novalis was an apologist for war. Both Heinrich and Klingsor believe that the Romantic spirit of poetry is manifested in wars. But wars and crusades are poeticized as a definite component of the feudal past, which is generally represented by Novalis in the spirit of fairy-tale Romantic poetry. After all, the craft of a miner is poeticized here, from a rationally everyday point of view, it would seem so little poetical. Poetising mining, Novalis does not at all seek in it the poetry of labor as such. He affirms the idea of ​​a mystical fusion of man with nature, which reveals to him its innermost secrets. (The same ideas of disinterested mystical unity with the Spirit of the Earth’s interior are developed by Hoffman in the novel Falun Mines.) At the same time, war, as a moral and ethical category, is unequivocally condemned by Novalis. In Klingsor’s tale, however, the utopia of the common good necessarily presupposes the triumph of peace over war. And wars, according to Sophia-Wisdom, belong to the dark old times. The completion of the second part and the entire novel is the apotheosis of the triumph of freedom, love and poetry in the conditions of eternal peace. Thus, Novalis to a much greater extent affirmed the idea of ​​universal peace, rather than acted as an apologist for war.

On the whole, it would be a mistake to approach some weak-sounding socio-political ideas in the novel with the yardstick of a historical novel, since it is based on the abstract philosophical idea of ​​timeless eternity.

There is even less evidence to suggest that “Heinrich von Ofterdingen is a testament to a desperate pessimism” engendered by adherence to groundless reactionary ideals. It is indisputable that the ideals of Novalis, opposed as they were to contemporary reality, were groundless, but by no means were they always entirely reactionary. As for the “hopeless pessimism”, it does not fit in any way with the groundless, but completely optimistic utopia, which is the entire novel.

Novalis’ novel is a novel about poetry in its highest generalized philosophical meaning. “Everything – nature, history, war, ordinary life with all the most ordinary incidents – turns into poetry, because it is the spirit that animates everything,” Tieck wrote about this novel. In full measure, the spirit of poetry, according to Novalis, can only be embodied in the fabulous. “A novel should be all poetry. In the history of poetry, everything is so natural and at the same time wonderful.” The whole real world is identified by Novalis with a fairy tale. He sees the miraculous in everything ordinary, and the miraculous, in turn, is revealed in the ordinary. “Only the imperfection of our organs and self-perception prevents us from seeing ourselves in the world of a fairy tale,” Novalis says. “All fairy tales are dreams about the world in which we were born and which exists everywhere and nowhere.” Therefore, a fairy tale for Novalis is a canon of poetry, and everything poetic should be fabulous for him. It is easy to see that Novalis acts as a direct predecessor of Hoffmann, who developed these ideas of his, both in his aesthetics and in his work, with the essential difference that the miraculous and fabulous in Novalis looks essentially self-sufficient, out of touch with everyday reality, while In most of his works, Hoffmann intertwines the fabulous and fantastic element with everyday everyday reality, sometimes in its acute social aspects. The whole novel by Novalis is a poetic tale about the German Middle Ages, and the utopian ideal itself, concentrated to the greatest extent in the endings of the First and Second Parts, is placed exclusively in a fantastic-fabulous context.

In this regard, it becomes quite clear why Heinrich von Ofterdingen, this “novel of education”, in the creation of which Novalis started not only from Tieck’s novel about the artist Sternbald, but, perhaps, to an even greater extent from Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister, became an obvious Romantic antithesis to Goethe’s work. Of course, the science fiction storyteller Novalis, who at first, like all his friends in the Jena community, reacted with great admiration to this novel by Goethe, could ultimately irritate this “absurd and vulgar book, thoroughly prosaic and modern, which is only talking about ordinary human things, and nature and mysticism are completely consigned to oblivion.”

Since in the world created by Novalis’ imagination, everything is a fairy tale and poetry, in which the highest meaning of being lies, the poet is the central figure of such a universe, only his innermost secrets are accessible to him. “Through the mediation of poets,” says one of the characters in Novalis’ novel, “life and the world have become clearer and clearer to me. It seemed to me that they were probably friends with the spirits of light, penetrating into everything on earth and throwing a kind of delicately colored cover over everything.” The poet is a chosen person, endowed with the gift of providence and genuine all-pervading wisdom. “A poet understands nature better than a scientist,” Novalis says in Fragments, “only an artist can comprehend the meaning of life.” In the same spirit, on behalf of the author, he writes about poets in his novel. The poet stands aside from the vain events of the big world, he is not like ordinary people: “... poets are rare migratory birds among us; they sometimes pass through our villages and everywhere renew the old great cult of mankind and its first gods, stars, spring, happiness, fertility, health and joy. They, who have already found heavenly peace and are not subject to any vain desires, inhale only the aroma of earthly fruits, not eating them and therefore not chaining hopelessly to the base world ... in their presence, everyone’s wings involuntarily spread.”

Poet and priest are combined for Novalis in one person. Like Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis endows him with a chosen mission. And poetry itself in his understanding carries something mystical, inaccessible to the human mind: “He who does not understand and does not feel what poetry is, cannot be explained to him.” Understanding the meaning of poetry Novalis brings it closer to prophecy and visionary work. The aesthetic concept of Novalis, as it is formulated in various judgments of Fragments, completely absolutizes art, taking it beyond the rational, beyond the determinism of reality. He sees the essence of Romantic poetics “in art to achieve the attraction of mystery in a certain way, to make an object mysterious and at the same time familiar and tempting.” In the extremes of idealistic aesthetics, Novalis acts as a direct predecessor of the Symbolists, admitting the possibility of poetry devoid of any content, verses consisting only “of euphonious, beautiful words, but without any meaning and connection.” True poetry, in his opinion, can only be a great allegory. “The novel should not have any purpose,” Novalis believed, “it is absolute in its intrinsic value.”

But even such judgments, which leave no doubt about the irrationality of the interpretation of poetry and the poet’s personality, still do not reveal the whole essence of Novalis’ aesthetics. And although the assertion of irrational fiction and fairy tales as the main sphere of poetry is predominant in Novalis, his poetics still has its own certain contradictions, indicating that the realistic, the beginning of the connection with reality has not yet been completely lost. So, in the Fragments contains thoughts that are closely adjacent to some aesthetic ideas of realism. First of all, Novalis’ idea of ​​how to write a novel is of interest here. The author of the novel, he argues, must strictly order a large mass of events and situations and purposefully lead a certain individual through all these events to a certain goal. Moreover, this individual must be characteristic, peculiar (eigentümlich), he must condition events and, in turn, be conditioned by them. The novel should be deeply meaningful, philosophical, and Novalis regards this content as a quality that positively opposes the author’s arbitrariness: “The greater the writer, the less freedom he allows himself, the more philosophical he is.”

Novalis is by no means inclined to assert the author’s arbitrariness in its compositional construction – the novel should not have an indefinite length in its presentation, on the contrary, it should be clearly divided into certain parts. In this regard, it should be noted that Novalis’ own novel is also very far from, for example, the chaotic-fragmentary composition of Lucinde by Friedrich Schlegel, his construction is clearly thought out and has a harmonious logical character. This can be judged primarily by the plan of the unfinished part of the novel (in the presentation of this plan by Tieck). One should, in particular, agree with Donner’s correct observation of the language of Heinrich von Ofterdingen: “From Goethe, Novalis also adopted the simplicity of his language; his own apprenticeship next to Meister saved him from certain delights of style, which are apparent in Friedrich Schlegel, Brentano and even Eichendorff.”

Aesthetic judgments in the novel essentially come from two instances: the author himself with his hero Heinrich and the poet Klingsor. It is noteworthy, firstly, that the judgments of these two sides do not in any way come into direct conflict, do not collide in the novel either directly or indirectly: neither the author nor his hero enter into polemics with Klingsor. Secondly, Klingsor is depicted as the greatest poet, whose edifying discourses on poetry are listened to with respectful attention by the young Heinrich. Despite the fact that Novalis’ attitude towards Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister had changed dramatically, and that his own novel was a clear and deliberate antithesis to Goethe’s novel, the latter’s authority as the most significant writer in Germany remained unshaken in Novalis’ eyes. After all, his Heinrich is a student of Klingsor. Klingsor, without denying the role of fantasy in poetry, persistently restrains the young man’s Romantic enthusiasm and instills in him that a “rational principle” is necessary in art: “I insistently advise you to diligently develop your mind, your natural desire to know the logical connection of everything that happens. Nothing can be so necessary for a poet as an understanding of the essence of every business, as knowledge of the means to achieve any goal, knowledge of the current state of spiritual life and the ability to choose the most suitable one depending on the time and circumstances. Inspiration without reason is useless and dangerous, and a poet will not be able to create miracles if he himself admires miracles ... A young poet must strive for moderation and rationality. For a truly melodic speech, you need a wide, attentive and calm soul. ... When you master the art of poetry, in particular, you need to avoid extremes, because active fantasy tends to cross all boundaries...”

It is easy to see that all these ideas do not correspond well to the orthodox aesthetics of the Romantics. Klingsor’s instructions and the way they are presented in the novel testify to the fact that the experience of realistic literature of the Enlightenment, the experience of Goethe had a considerable positive impact on such a most ardent science fiction writer as Novalis was among his friends in the Jena circle. Novalis’ worldview was not limited only to striving for unbridled fantasy, which sometimes had a certain mystical connotation. It was also characterized by the sobriety of rationalistic judgments, a breadth of horizons that combined abstract philosophical, humanitarian and aesthetic thinking with a thorough preparation in the field of natural sciences – all this made him close to Goethe. Among the writers of the Jena school, Novalis, as a mining engineer, was the only professionally versed in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, geology, mineralogy and some other natural sciences. It is no coincidence that a significant part of his Fragments refers precisely to this area.

One cannot but see the rational sides in Novalis’ reasoning about the deterministic connections between the hero of the novel and the events, situations in which he appears. Of course, one should not exaggerate these aspects in the entire system of Novalis’ aesthetic views. But it is also true that they had a certain perspective and aesthetic expediency, which once again testified to the living connection of Jena Romantic aesthetics (even in its extreme expressions) with the general desire of art and literature to reflect real concrete historical reality.

In the ideological concept of Novalis, in essence fully reflected in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen, one of the most important places is occupied by the problem of life and death, the question of their correlation. The nature of this problem in the system of Novalis’ philosophical views is, in particular, of interest insofar as it largely determines the correct solution to the question of whether his worldview is optimistic or pessimistic. Many Romantics, referring to this problem, defined their attitude to it in accordance with their worldview positions. So, for Byron and Vigny, death is a departure into oblivion. They did not recognize the possibility of any afterlife transformation into the existence of the human spirit. Moreover, if Vigny perceives death in the spirit of proud pessimistic stoicism, then for Byron it is inevitable, which does not in the least shake the active optimism of his worldview. Lamartine, however, resolves this issue under the influence of the Christian-spiritualist hypothesis about the afterlife of the human soul. Novalis, like all early German Romantics, in the philosophical understanding of religion, and especially in solving the problem of life and death, was far from the Christian-church dogma (the Jena Romantics were too keen on the idea of ​​freedom, freedom of thought to constrain themselves with any dogmas, including church ones). However, he talks a lot about religion, the understanding of which has a pronounced philosophical character with his inherent gravitation towards spiritualistic irrationalism. In this regard, Novalis interprets the problem of death.

The death of Sophia von Kuhn undoubtedly strengthened Novalis’ religious sentiments and directed them precisely into the Christian church plan, as evidenced, in particular, by some of his Spiritual Songs. This circumstance is rightly pointed out in a number of studies. On the other hand, in some works there is a clear tendency to explain the entire philosophy of life and death in Novalis primarily by his Christian-religious convictions. At the same time, it is hardly possible to support another position, which completely excludes the idea of ​​a Christian god from Novalis’ consciousness and reduces this concept only to a philosophical abstraction. But the same Ludwig Pesch is close to the truth in his interpretation of the idea of ​​eternal existence in Novalis: “If the soul is a universe in an all-encompassing spatial and temporal extent,” he writes, “as Novalis tried to present it in his Ofterdingen, then it turns out to be beyond death. ... The soul, therefore, is constantly reborn, remaining unchanged, but accepting only other incarnations.” Even more accurate in revealing this main philosophical and aesthetic idea of ​​Novalis is F. A. Braun, who believes that the way out of the crisis associated with the death of Sophia von Kuhn, Novalis found “not as a believing Christian and not as a thinker, but as a poet who in the artistic design of his life, disease deprived her of its horrors and death from her sting. No evil, no disease, no death; the whole world is engulfed in radiant and joyful harmony. Hello to life, eternal and endless!”

In line with his idea that the whole world around is a fairy tale, where miraculous magical transformations are possible, Novalis says in Fragments that pain and illness can bring pleasure to a person, illness is a necessary beginning of love, and death means a closer union of lovers. “Death is the end and the beginning at the same time, parting and an ever closer connection with oneself,” wrote Novalis in fragments of Flower Dust. Of course, it is difficult to take positively such judgments, even based on the peculiarity of Novalis’ philosophical and worldview system. to a large extent they should be attributed to his penchant for morbid mysticism. But in the concept of life and death of Novalis, these thoughts are private. And although they do not contradict his general solution to this problem, they do not give a complete picture of him philosophically, there is another aphoristic judgment in Fragments on this topic: “Death is a Romantic principle of our life. Death is life. Through death, life intensifies.” everyday to the transcendental, which is the original state of the world. Therefore, death in the understanding of Novalis is by no means the end of life, not a transition into nothingness, but the highest and, moreover, the original form of life.

In the novel, this concept of death is developed and expressed somewhat transformed. A person dies to be reborn to life, but in a different hypostasis. At the beginning of the second part of the novel, before the lonely, suffering Heinrich, the young maiden Cyana appears – a new incarnation of Heinrich–s deceased beloved Matilda. She tells Heinrich that she has known him for a long time, from the time when they were both still living in another life, in which Heinrich had other parents. She brings him to the old doctor Sylvester, who is also the reincarnation of the deceased old miner, the character of the first part of the novel. Heinrich has a leisurely and lengthy philosophical conversation with Sylvester, in which, in particular, he asks the old sage about when the sorrows, pains and all evil on earth will end. The interlocutor believes that the cause of evil is rooted in a general weakness, which he understands as “insufficient moral sensitivity and insufficient attraction to freedom.” Apparently, it is appropriate to note in this regard that Novalis’ negative attitude towards the Great French Revolution, which was firmly established in Novalis on the basis of disappointment in its results, does not force him to change his equally strong passion for the idea of ​​freedom, largely caused by this particular revolution.

As for life and death, Novalis’ novel affirms the idea of ​​the uninterrupted existence of a person in his various hypostases. Of course, from the point of view of natural science, this philosophical idea is groundless and can be perceived positively only in terms of the most abstract abstract philosophical generalizations, which, however, does not diminish the optimism of Novalis’ worldview, but, on the contrary, confirms this optimism.

At the heart of such a somewhat naive poetic and philosophical solution to the problem of being and death in Novalis lies the cornerstone principle of the Romantic concept of the inherent value of the individual. The Enlighteners, affirming the omnipotence of Reason, elevated the personality as the bearer of this Reason into a kind of universal abstract absolute, into a kind of universal norm. The idea of ​​Enlightenment progress was based on the fact that existing generations should build a universal kingdom of Reason for the future. Therefore, for the enlighteners, each given empirical personality was usually viewed as an annoying deviation from the universal absolute norm. Romantics, on the other hand, constructed their understanding of progress on the basis of a fundamentally different, in comparison with the Enlightenment model, postulate about the comprehensive harmonious development of the personality now, at the present time. Not to sacrifice a person for the sake of the common good, but to go towards this common good through the development of an individual person – this is how they decide the question of progress.

With all the attractiveness of this scheme, its deep humanism, one cannot fail to see that it was even more illusory and utopian than the path offered by the Enlighteners. The fact is that the Jena Romantics, in essence, completely removed the personality from any social and almost to the same extent – from the concrete historical context. The rejection of the civic pathos of educational ideals could not ultimately contribute to the links between the utopian concepts of the romantics and the real process of historical development. But this aspect concerns above all the external significance of the Romantic utopia of progress among the Jena school. If we talk about the inner content of this idea of ​​progress, then it is connected with the fact that the personality in the view of Novalis exists in infinite temporal and spatial dimensions – in space, in the universe, given from centuries without end and beginning. As a part and at the same time the center of this universe, containing everything and everything, is infinite and inevitable in the universal endless whirlwind and human life – he always exists, for him there is no nonexistence. According to Novalis, the world in which a rationalistically thinking person lives is “not romanticized”, therefore a person perceives only one, only an insignificant part of the all-encompassing universe – that which is connected with the earthly segment of his being, and considers it finite. A person is simply inaccessible to another invisible life, in which he existed earlier – before his birth and in which he will exist after death.

Along with the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen, this principle of uninterrupted existence received its main poetic expression in Hymns to the Night, an inspired poetic work that is one of the notable pages in the history of German poetry. The form of rhythmic prose, close to free verse (except for the 6th hymn, written with tricycle and four-legged iambics), was a completely new phenomenon in the then German literature, except for Hölderlin, whose works at that time were known only to a very narrow circle of people.

In contrast to the novel, the concept of being and death in Hymns to the Night has a certain church-religious connotation, and in the 5th hymn it is directly associated with the myth of Christ. This poetic cycle is imbued with yearning for the night, for death, the author is burdened by earthly existence and seeks to unite with his beloved beyond the threshold of earthly existence. However, the widespread assessments of this work of Novalis as an expression of morbid mysticism, an escape from reality to the other world, as a denial of light in life, are clearly one-sided and are largely associated with an external approach to the work without taking into account its entire philosophical concept, which is especially impossible when interpreting an artist like Novalis. The antithesis of day and night, life and death, or rather, what will happen after death, should be understood in the Hymns not at all as a denial of earthly existence, but as a desire to affirm the infinity of man’s existence, not limited only by his earthly hypostasis. Therefore, Novalis seems to be defective in the life of an ancient man, since his gods gave him only an earthly lot, in which he lived under constant fear of death, from which the Christian religion liberated him and granted him eternal life (5th hymn). But rebirth to a new life after death is by no means a triumphant departure from the pitiful earthly vale of suffering for Novalis into the eternal bliss of the afterlife. In this case, Hymns would be just a poetic interpretation of Christian dogma. Life after death, according to Novalis, is not at all a biblical paradise, and earthly existence is by no means a vale of sin and suffering. The beginning of the first hymn already sings the beauty of the real earthly world: “wonderful phenomena spread around, the light of the awakening day, bringing joy to everyone, shines with its colors, rays and waves.”

The intonations of the Hymns are contradictory, grief for the deceased beloved is very noticeable in them, but this grief is enlightened by an optimistic belief in the infinity of the human spirit. And this optimism of Novalis has a philosophical rather than a religious emphasis here.

Many of the weaknesses of the world outlook and philosophical concepts of the Jena Romantics, the retrograde and even reactionary aspects of their socio-political positions, are perhaps the most obvious in Novalis. And at the same time, his philosophical and aesthetic searches, and especially his works of art, cannot be taken out of the brackets of the progressive development of German literature. Novalis’ creativity in this process takes its strong place, and his novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen is one of the most significant creations of German Romanticism.