fckonzenberg.de/components/ortung/freund-bei-facebook-ausspionieren.php In his essay on Whitman selection 2 , a necrologue written in , Schlaf explains how, through the example of Whitman's poetry, he had been able to escape the limitations of naturalism and discover the richness of his innermost self. He celebrates Whitman as a healer and a prophet of a new age of humanity.
Deconstructing this rhetoric, however, we find that he read—and imitated—Whitman's poetry as an answer to the ills of modern existence: urbanization, alienation, and even dissociation of the self, all the issues we now consider to be critical in our judgement of modern civilization. It is characteristic of Whitman's German reception that, while his poetry was applied as therapy to the ills of existence in a modern world, it also accelerated the development of a modernist aesthetic.
Although it sometimes promised to do so, Whitman's poetry never actually led back to holistic premodernist times but rather pointed forward to the disintegration of the self. This process, from a traditionalist viewpoint, reduced humans to a bundle of nerve endings. While German readers, aghast at the rapid technological and industrial development of their society, were looking toward the American poet for assistance, the medicine they actually received was an aesthetic correlative to the newly industrialized culture from which they were attempting to escape.
Schlaf seems to have understood the danger, because he celebrated the emergence of a "new humanity" with Walt Whitman, a humanity no longer grounded in the old value system but rather responding to external stimuli. At the same time, he popularized O'Connor's version of the "good gray poet," which became Germany's favorite image of Whitman. In Schlaf's many articles on Whitman, in his translation of Henry Bryan Binns's biography and several other books, he always stressed the superhuman quality of the poet who was destined to deliver humankind.
In this endeavor, he was supported by Horace Traubel, Ernest Crosby and other Whitmanites who warmly approved of his activities. His most important contribution to Whitman's popularity in the German-speaking countries was a widely circulated translation of a representative cross section of Leaves published in a cheap, popular edition. It was through this edition that Whitman's work became the collective property of practically all German-speaking readers, thereby insuring Whitman's astounding popularity.
Bazalgette once even suggested the foundation of a European equivalent to Traubel's Walt Whitman Fellowship International for Hermann Hesse's disdain for such organizations, see selection 3 , a plan that was never realized, probably owing to increasing nationalist tensions in Europe.
With Traubel, Schlaf shared a true partisan devotion to Whitman, which seems exaggerated and almost childish to the modern observer. Yet Schlaf and others did believe it necessary to "defend" Whitman against all negative criticisms: such critics were automatically denounced as "enemies. One such villain, and Schlaf's archenemy, was Eduard Bertz — , a close friend of the British novelist George Gissing. Bertz was an unlikely candidate for Schlaf's wrath. He had come to know Whitman during an early stay in the United States and, after his return, published an article in which he praised Whitman exuberantly.
Bertz sent this article, which appeared in , to Whitman, along with the promise that he was going to "reveal" Whitman to the German people. After Schlaf's article, however, Bertz was forced to face the fact that Johannes Schlaf, not Eduard Bertz, was going to be Whitman's German prophet. Bertz, originally a socialist, devoted himself to a number of causes.
He wrote ethical treatises and a book outlinig a philosophy of the bicycle, and most important, he was active in the early German homosexual movement. The aim of the movement, led by Berlin physician Magnus Hirschfeld, was the legal emancipation of homosexuals. A petition to that effect, carrying the signatures of the majority of German and Austrian intellectuals and artists of the period, was submitted to the German government in Although it was denied, the petition gave the activists around Hirschfeld a chance to argue for their cause.
In the same year, they began publishing a journal in which they tried to dispel scientifically the destructive myths about homosexuality. A regular series in this journal featured the contributions of homosexuals to human history. In Bertz published a long article on Whitman's homoeroticism, referring to him as a sexually inactive homosexual. In the "psychopathological" language of the day, he called him an Edelurning literally translated, a noble homosexual.
Although not intended as such, Bertz's article was perceived by Whitman's followers, especially Schlaf, as an attack on the poet. Schlaf wrote a furious pamphlet in which he accused Bertz of slandering Whitman. Bertz misunderstood and believed that Schlaf and the "terrorists" of the heterosexual world wanted to repress Whitman's homosexuality in order to thwart the movement for homosexual emancipation.
With ever-increasing paranoia, Bertz wrote two books attempting to prove not only Whitman's homosexuality but also the existence of a plot by Whitmanites around the world to silence him. In fact, he went so far as to suggest there might be a homosexual conspiracy designed to "sell" Whitman's "homosexual ideas" to the world in the guise of "healthy" poetry.
While all this may not seem to make Bertz a gay liberationist, we must remember that, at the time of this quarrel in the first decade of the twentieth century, the possibilities of the gay movement were much more limited than today. Advocates of homosexual emancipation, content with legal progress, considered any aggressive position taken by homosexuals as counterproductive and destructive. However, it reflects the arguments brought forth in the quarrel between and Apart from whatever effect the debate may have had on homosexual emancipation, Schlaf's eventual "victory" was important for Whitman's continued popularity in the German-speaking countries.
If Schlaf had not managed to deny Bertz's well-meant allegations, Whitman would probably not have been accepted in the German-speaking countries—the prejudices against homosexuality and homosexuals were too strong in Central Europe at that time. But since Bertz did not manage to convince the public, Whitman's progress was uninhibited. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, his significance for the development of German literature and German thinking was taken for granted.
Wegner to Franz Kafka—reported the enthusiasm with which they welcomed Schlaf's translation of Whitman. Essays by Landauer and Bahr selections 5 and 6 provide examples of the ways Whitman was read between the turn of the century and Hitler's takeover in Gustave Landauer — , a friend of the German philosopher and theologian Martin Buber, is one of the most interesting personalities in the history of German literature and ideas.
Throughout his life he attempted to combine a visionary mysticism with his version of anarchist socialism. Unlike the Marxists, Landauer abhorred power and violence as a means toward an ideal society. Whereas social democratic ideologues justified their involvement in and support of World War I by quoting Whitman the wound-dresser who, they claimed, believed that participation in war was necessary to alleviate human suffering, Landauer stressed the antimilitaristic and pacifist tendencies in Whitman's poetry.
For Landauer, Whitman's democracy consisted in the free association of human beings living together on egalitarian terms and sharing their everyday work. Landauer gave much thought to questions of human alienation and spiritual impoverishment, which the Marxists then believed could be put off until after their predicted decisive revolutionary change in politics and economics had taken place. In his view, spiritual and intellectual changes had to precede a new social order; a society based on traditional thinking could never bring forth the new human relationships toward which socialism aspired.
Whitman's poetry would provide the spirit Geist Landauer predicted would serve as a guiding light for a new society based on small units of production, self-managed economic enterprises, and a daily routine requiring each member of society to be engaged in both intellectual and manual labor.
Already within the capitalist system, small pockets with "new" human beings could develop, people committed not to nationhood but to a new way of living. When Landauer referred to Americans as a new and exemplary type of "nation," he meant they would overcome the old nationalism in a new community comprising all nations. When Kurt Wolff, a well-known publisher and sponsor of German expressionist authors, asked Landauer in whether he would be willing to undertake a Whitman translation, Landauer enthusiastically agreed.
The poems, and the edition as a whole, were to serve his pacifist politics during the war.
Unfortunately, however, the war did not leave him time to complete his excellent translation, and afterward Landauer joined the short-lived Bavariana Soviet Government in Munich November —May , hoping to implement his humanist ideas in practical politics. When the government fell, Landauer was arrested; shortly thereafter, soldiers killed him inside a prison. In the United States, a contributor to Max Eastman's leftist paper The Liberator and an observer of the events in Germany described Landauer: "A poet, a crusader, with the passionate dreaming soul of A sensitive man, a man whom every one loved; a devoted admirer of Walt Whitman, whose work he made known to Germany.
Hermann Bahr — , an Austrian critic and dramatist, was a man devoted to the avant-garde. A leader of the modernist members of the "Young Vienna" group the term "modernism" in the artistic sense is sometimes attributed to Bahr , he attempted to break ground for any new movement that would further artistic and aesthetic progress.
In a essay, he welcomed a new "barbarianism" in literature which was, in his view, the only adequate answer to the challenges brought about by emerging technological realities. Arts and humanities, he believed, were firmly grounded in old nineteenth-century traditions and thus were unable to cope with these challenges. If a later generation looked to art and literature to explain and interpret his period, only one author could be said to have given expression to this new era—Whitman.
Whitman remained a constant in Bahr's life. The essay reprinted here was written on the centenary of Whitman's birth. In it Bahr still stresses the fact that Whitman sings the "modern man. Both Germany and Austria had become democratic republics, and intellectuals in both countries had to find a new place in their changing societies. What is the artist's place in a democratic society? What is the nature of democratic art?
The questions that had so intensely preoccupied American romantics in their struggle for national literature now came to haunt the Europeans. Related questions of nationalism preoccupied them as well. After the old monarchies fell, Central Europe presented itself as a colorful quilt of dozens of nations and nationalities. How would they relate to each other? These issues provide the background against which Bahr's essay must be read. The answers Bahr found in Whitman are original and explain, in part, Whitman's enormous popularity in the years following World War I.
The artist would have to be the universal human mediator between individuals, classes, and nations, and a democracy that could solve these problems would have to become an "erotocracy. Whitman, Bahr emphasized admiringly, perceived reality through his sensuality—he "philosophizes with the phallus. Reisiger "encountered" Whitman as early as and published his first translations in the leftist journal Das Forum at the beginning of World War I.
Whitman's true significance for his time, however, was not revealed to Reisiger until after the war. In the introduction to his first one-volume edition of Whitman's works, he emphasizes that only a quasierotic relationship among men and women but especially men could actually make German democracy work. He shared this curious idea, along with his passion for Whitman, with his close friend Thomas Mann. Mann, who publicly welcomed the publication of Reisiger's translation, had been politically conservative. With the breakdown of the Central European monarchies, Mann had to redefine his position, and he did so with the aid of Whitman.
Democracy, he now believed, could work only if what used to be a hierarchical order could be replaced by an erotic commonwealth. Eroticism and sexuality—the common denominators of all human beings—could thereby serve as a glue to keep democratic society from disintegrating. Both Reisiger and Mann were aware of Whitman's homoeroticism and discussed it in connection with his poetry, especially the "Calamus" poems. In a series of surprisingly "public" statements, Mann and Reisiger both referred to the attachment of man to man as the "heartbeat of true democracy" and as the "life nerve of communal life of the future in all states and cities" see selection 8.
It is surprising that this openness was no longer cause for indignant outcries and public protests. Fifteen to twenty years following the debate between Schlaf and Bertz, Mann's and Reisiger's interpretation of Whitman was apparently accepted—although we do not know how much of it was actually understood. With Reisiger's attractive two-volume edition upon its publication Mann wrote an open letter that appeared on page one of the leading German daily; see selection 7 , Whitman had become a "classic. This, however, also meant that the reception of his work became less spontaneous and dramatic.
While Whitman's passionate rhetoric was much in demand in the turbulences associated with the war when scores of German poets, mostly "messianic expressionists," imitated Whitman , the post-expressionistic poets of the Neue Sachlichkeit New Objectivity had much less affinity with the vitality of the American bard. Obviously, the Nazis had little use for Whitman's poetry. Although there were two or three attempts to enlist Whitman for the national-socialist ideology by turning him into a "Germanic bard," he stressed democracy and internationalism too often to be useful to the ideology of the Third Reich.
Lersch was part of a group of poets who were Whitman devotees in their early years and who found that some of the rhetoric they had learned from Whitman was applicable in the Nazi context. Some of Whitman's imagery of blood, soil, and even women came fairly close to the Nazis' rhetoric of the German character, the German homeland, the German earth, and the German mother.
The Nazis thus preempted the possibility of a wide use of Whitman's poetry for the anti-Nazi struggle waged by German exiles, and they also prevented a true Whitman renaissance after World War II. Although several new volumes of Whitman's works appeared after , including a number of new translations, Whitman's reception since World War II has hardly equaled the enthusiasm of the years between and But even the GDR, a country professing a "messianic" ideology, did not attempt to use the powerful appeal of Whitman's rhetoric.
The excellent translation by the GDR author Erich Arendt, who had come know Whitman during his exile in Latin America, is hardly reminiscent of the passion of the earlier translations. Rather, Whitman seems to have been important as a point of convergence between the interests of mostly young GDR readers and the official cultural policies of the state.
Because of the interest shown in Whitman by revolutionaries such as Freiligrath, or the first Soviet commissar of culture, Anatoly Lunacharsky, or especially their own Johannes R. Becher, the soundness and usefulness of Whitman's poetry were guaranteed in the GDR, where it always remained available in cheap, attractive editions.
The GDR audience, on the other hand, fascinated by America and American literature, was interested in Whitman as the representative of a foreign culture to which they had little access physically, intellectually, or artistically. In the first complete German edition of Specimen Days , translated by a GDR translator, was expertly edited by Eva Manske, a specialist in American literature from Leipzig, whose open-minded and inspiring afterword already anticipated the later developments in that country.
Although the German-speaking literary world has acknowledged Whitman to be a classic author and even though he has become the subject of academic inquiry at German, Austrian, and Swiss universities, Whitman's poetry continues to provoke important reactions on the part of creative writers themselves. Lyrical replies to Whitman have always been a measure of his continuing vitality, and German poets have talked back to him frequently and energetically see selections 9— Christian Morgenstern — , a poet, translator, and journalist, had a number of uses for Whitman's poetry.
Here I include a second "Whitman poem" which, in a much more earnest fashion, explores Whitman's internationalist theme, always a favorite among Germans.
Morgenstern, with his extreme dislike of the German bourgeois life-style, obviously saw Whitman's globalist poetry and his lyrical America as antidotes to the stuffiness of German life. In he went to Berlin, where he became acquainted with Georg Heym, one of the most significant German expressionist poets. In he moved to Marburg and graduated with a doctorate in law two years later. He lived as a businessman in Frankfurt until , when he was forced to emigrate to the United States. He died in New York in During Drey's short literary career, he contributed to the important expressionist journals Der Sturm and Die Aktion.
His poem "Walt Whitman" demonstrates the expressionists' exaggerated adoration of Whitman as a human being, a poet, and a God-like giant. The poem not only reflects expressionist enthusiasm for Whitman but is at the same time a measure of the alienation of these poets. Quite obviously, Whitman is the receptacle of the projections designed to compensate for their imagined and real deficits as poets and human beings. Their characterizations of Whitman with terms such as "Titan" or, in the poem by Carl Albert Lange, "Giant" suggest the degree to which the human individual is dwarfed by modern technology and industrial society.
The violent emotions they ascribe to Whitman, as exaggerated as comic book characterizations, are indicative of the impossibility of expressing subjectivity in a mechanized and controlled society. The two poems by Swiss writers Gustav Gamper — and Hans Reinhart — appeared next to each other in a Swiss literary journal in , along with Gamper's woodcut of Whitman. These poems are more constrained and devout, exuding a feeling of religiosity, but otherwise they are very similar to the exaggerated diction of the expressionists.
Gamper, a native of Trogen, Switzerland, was a poet, musician, and painter. Whitman was the great experience of his life, a model to follow throughout his career. Reinhart, a friend of Gamper's, was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. Descended from a wealthy family, he studied in Germany, Switzerland, and France and traveled widely. He was influenced by anthroposophy after a trip to India in and devoted his career to poetry, drama, and prose, as well as to local cultural activities in his hometown.
He also translated individual poems by Whitman. The poem by Carl Albert Lange — seems to be from the same expressionist school as Drey's, although Lange is not usually included with the expressionist movement. He was born in Hamburg as a son of a music teacher. In he was called to military duty and was a Russian POW from to ; these years in Siberia led him to literature.
For the most part, he wrote poetry and prose, but he also translated from several languages. Although his work was repeatedly recognized by several prominent German critics and writers, Lange never established himself as a major twentieth-century voice in German poetry. Not all Germans, however, were uncritical admirers of Whitman. Already one year before the appearance of Lange's poem, in , Kurt Tucholsky, one of the great German satirists, wrote a parody of "Salut au Monde! Tucholsky frequently used "Ignaz Wrobel" as a pseudonym. The "Walt Wrobel" in the poem is Tucholsky turned into Whitman—or the other way around.
Whitman's spiritualized epistemological optimism is shown to be unfounded; the wealth of all appearances could not possibly be grasped by the five senses. Paradoxically, the senses mediate mainly one thing—pain. Whitman's global panorama is here replaced by ridiculous local observations from the author's everyday life. At the very best, it is slightly humorous—something Whitman's poem is certainly not. In spite of this parody's implicit biting criticism, Tucholsky, like other writers critical of Whitman's optimism, nonetheless admired the American as a great poet.
On a poetry manuscript by the young German poet Walter Bauer, he commented, "I am much more interested in your intellectual parents than in your professional aspirations. Just so there are no misunderstandings: this does not change anything, not in the least, about the value of poems. Their rhymelessness is almost a matter of course. The sonnet by Johannes R. Becher — was probably written in the early s when he was in Soviet exile.
In his youth and early manhood, Becher was a devout Whitmanite; later he programmatically declared his conversion from Whitman to Marx and Lenin. Yet, like many other Marxists, he continued to admire Whitman, even though the sonnet form of the poem included here suggests that the nature of this admiration had changed. Becher, first minister of culture in the GDR, was an influential, although self-serving, cultural politician, whose interest in Whitman helped to insure the poet's "survival" in the GDR.
Gabriele Eckart born in is one of the most gifted lyricists in contemporary German literature. At the time she wrote the poem included here, she was still in high school. Her "search for metres," in the course of which she encountered Whitman, already points to the original poetry she would write in the future.
By the mids, Eckart had become a dissident writer and eventually removed to the United States. The poem by Wellbrock born in , a Berlin-based writer of poems, short stories, and radio plays, is explicitly critical of Whitman and Whitman's rhetoric, yet it testifies to the power of Whitman's voice and the necessity for every poet to come to terms with it. Wellbrock himself speaks of his "ambivalent" attitude toward Whitman, whose expansiveness and freedom he admires but whose rhetoric and glorification of strength and body offend him.
The poem is a clever montage of Whitman quotations that have become famous in Germany; Wellbrock carefully refutes each one. No German poet has "talked back" in a more radical fashion to Whitman than Wellbrock. It remains unclear whether it is Whitman's belief in progress that is targeted here or whether the poem attempts to show that our plastic era does not do justice to our cultural-humanist legacy, the Bible, or Whitman; both interpretations seem possible.
Sahl, born in Dresden in , was one of the most prominent German exiles in the literary field. Since he has worked as a cultural correspondent for several German-language dailies. He is also a prominent translator of American dramatists among them Williams, Miller, and Wilder. The poem is the sophisticated product of a truly bicultural mind and deserves an important place in German-American literature. He became a bookseller, worked as a nurse's assistant, then studied medicine in Leipzig, where he specialized in internal medicine.
This part-time poet's direct address to Whitman confronts the frequent attempts to pronounce Whitman dead. Yet, to this poet writing in the "mid-age" years of tranquility and "maturity," Whitman is still as provocative as ever. Kluge writes that "for somebody who was forced to live in a walled-in country, it can be a revelation to see the upright posture of a human being: self-determined instead of other-directedness, sensuality instead of prudishness, love of truth rather than hypocrisy.
To me, Walt Whitman was a great help. In a country where walls have come down, Whitman's German reception will no doubt develop in new and unsuspected ways as a result of the radical changes in East-Central Europe. Whereas the changes in Eastern and East-Central Europe have muted Marxist voices and thus also Marxist respondents to Whitman, a new kind of response is struck by Rolf Schwendter pseudonym of Rudolf Schesswendtner , born in in Vienna. A professor of sociology at the University of Kassel in Germany, Schwendter's academic interests include subcultures, future studies, and research into social and cultural deviancy.
His poem "You I Sing, Socialism" was written for the festival of the Austrian Communist press in Vienna and targets both conservative and Marxist orthodoxies from a libertarian, independently leftist point of view. For the first time, Whitman's pluralist aesthetics have been appreciated by a leftist recipient. While it lacks Whitman's lyrical vision, Schwendter's poem is a programmatic and sophisticated piece of work, and it synthesizes the tradition of German responses to Whitman, while it opens up new modes of creative political interpretations of his poetry.
The answer is, a poet! A new American poet! His admirers say, the first, the only poet America has as yet produced. The only American poet of specific character. No follower in the beaten track of the European muses, but fresh from the prairie and the new settlements, fresh from the coast and the great watercourses, fresh from the thronging humanity of seaports and cities, fresh from the battlefields of the South, and from the earthy smells in hair and beard and clothing of the soil from which he sprang.
A being not yet come to fullness of existence, a person standing firmly and consciously upon his own American feet, an utterer of a gross of great things, though often odd. And his admirers go still further: Walt Whitman is to them the only poet at all, in whom the age, this struggling, eagerly seeking age, in travail with thought and longing, has found its expression; the poet par excellence. Thus, on the one side his admirers, in whose ranks we find even an Emerson.
On the other, to be sure, are the critics, those whose business it is to abase aspirants. By the side of unmeasured praise and enthusiastic recognitions of his genius are bitter and biting scorn and injurious abuse. This, it is true, troubles not the poet. The praise he takes as his due; to the scorn he opposes scorn of his own.
He believes in himself; his self-reliance is unbounded. Rossetti, "to himself above all things the one man who cherishes earnest convictions, and avows that he, both now and hereafter, is the founder of a new poetical literature—a great literature—a literature such as will stand in due relation and proportion to the material grandeur and the incalculable destinies of America. He believes that the Columbus of the continent or the Washington of the States were not more truly founders and builders of this America than he himself will be in time to come. Surely a sublime conviction, and by the poet more than once expressed in stately words—none more so than the poem which begins with the line: "Come, indivisible will I make this continent.
Is the man in his right mind, that he talks thus? Let us step nearer to him! Let us hearken to his life and his works. First of all let us open his book. Are these verses? The lines are arranged like verses, to be sure, but verses they are not. No metre, no rhyme, no stanzas. Rhythmical prose, ductile verses. At first sight rugged, inflexible, formless; but yet for a more delicate ear, not devoid of euphony. The language homely, hearty, straightforward, naming everything by its true name, shrinking for nothing, sometimes obscure. The tone rhapsodical, like that of a seer, often unequal, the sublime mingled with the trivial even to the point of insipidity.
He reminds us sometimes, with all the differences that exist besides, of our own Hamann.
Or of Carlyle's oracular wisdom. Or of the Paroles d'un Croyant. Through all there sounds out the Bible—its language, not its creed. And what does the poet propound to us in this form? First of all: Himself, his I , Walt Whitman. This I however is part of America, a part of the earth, a part of mankind, a part of the All. As such he is conscious of himself and revolves, knitting the greatest to the least, ever going out from America, and coming back to America ever agan only to a free people does the future belong! Through this individual Walt Whitman and his Americanism marches, we may say, a cosmical procession, such as may be suitable for reflective spirits, who, face to face with eternity, have passed solitary days on the sea-shore, solitary nights under the starry sky of the prairie.
He finds himself in all things and all things in himself. He, the one man, Walt Whitman, is mankind and the world. And the world and mankind are to him one great poem. What he sees and hears, what he comes in contact with, whatever approaches him, even the meanest, the most trifling, the most every-day matter—all is to him symbolical of a higher, of a spiritual fact.
Or rather, matter and spirit, the real and the ideal are to him one and the same. Thus, produced by himself, he takes his stand; thus he strides along, singing as he goes; thus he opens from his soul, a proud free man, and only a man, world-wide, social and political vistas. A wonderful appearance. We confess that it moves us, disturbs us, will not loose its hold upon us. At the same time, however, we would remark that we are not yet ready with our judgment of it, that we are still biased by our first impression. Meanwhile we, probably the first in Germany to do so, will take at least a provisional view of the scope and tendency of this new energy.
It is fitting that our poets and thinkers should have a closer look at this strange new comrade, who threatens to overturn our entire Ars Poetica and all our theories and canons on the subject of aesthetics. Indeed, when we have listened to all that is within these earnest pages, when we have grown familiar with the deep, resounding roar of those, as it were, surges of the sea in their unbroken sequence of rhapsodical verses breaking upon us, then will our ordinary verse-making, our system of forcing thought into all sorts of received forms, our playing with ring and sound, our syllable-counting and measure of quantity, our sonnet-writing and construction of strophes and stanzas, seem to us almost childish.
Are we really come to the point, when life, even in poetry, calls imperatively for new forms of expression? Has the age so much and such serious matter to say, that the old vessels no longer suffice for the new contents? Are we standing before a poetry of the ages to come, just as some years ago a music of the ages to come was announced before us? As to the person and the life of the poet, we learn that he is a man of almost fifty years. He was born on the 31st May, His father, in succession, innkeeper, carpenter, and architect, a descendant of English settlers; the mother, Louisa Van Velsor, of Dutch descent.
The boy received his first school teaching in Brooklyn, a suburb of New York. Compelled at an early age to rely upon his own exertions, he gained his living first as a printer, and later as a teacher, and a contributor to several New York newspapers. In the year we find him established as editor of a newspaper in New Orleans, two years later again a printer in Brooklyn.
After this he worked a long time, like his father, as carpenter and architect. In the year , after the breaking out of the great civil war as an enthusiastic Unionist and anti-slavery man he stood firmly on the side of the North , he undertook, by authority from Lincoln through Emerson's mediation, the care of the wounded in the field. And to be sure, he had it expressly stipulated beforehand, that it was to be without any sort of remuneration.
From the spring of onward, this nursing in the field, and in the hospitals at Washington, was his "only employment by day and by night. Every wounded man, from the North and the South alike, had the same careful and loving attendance at the hands of the poet. At the end of the war, it is said, he must have nursed with his own hands more than , sick and wounded.
For six months he himself lay sick; a hospital fever, the first sickness of his life, had seized him. After the war he obtained a minor office in the Department of the Interior at Washington, but lost it in June, , when the minister, Mr. Harlan, had it brought to his attention, that Whitman was the author of the book, "Leaves of Grass," the coarseness, or as it appeared to Mr. Harlan, the immorality of which filled the ministerial bosom with holy horror. But the poet found soon another post of modest salary in the bureau of the Attorney General at Washington.
There he is still living. On Sunday, and sometimes in the week also, he still keeps up his visits to the hospitals. Whitman is a plain man, a man of few needs. Poor, and, according to his own avowal, without talent for moneymaking. His strength, said he to a visitor, Mr.
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Conway, an American living in London, lay in "loafing and writing poems. Conway found him while yet on Long Island—before the war, indeed , in a temperature of degrees, lying on his back in the grass, and staring at the sun. Just like Diogenes. His abode Conway found very plain and simple. A small room, poorly furnished, with only one window, which looked out on the sandy solitude of Long Island. Not a single book in the room. But he talked of the Bible, of Homer, and of Shakespeare as of favorite books which he owned. For reading he had two especial study-rooms: one was the top of an omni-bus, the other Coney Island, an uninhabited little sand islet far out in the Atlantic Ocean, miles from the coast.
His writings, up to this time, are the above-named "Leaves of Grass" first edition , set up and printed by the poet himself; second edition ; third edition ; then, after the war, "Drum-Taps" with a "Sequel" in which is a fine rhapsody on the death of Abraham Lincoln; and last year, a complete edition with a supplement called "Songs before Parting.
Rossetti, one of Whitman's English admirers. The coarse expressions of doubtful propriety which were in the New York original edition have been left out of this; and it is the purpose of the published by means of this issue to open a path for the preparation of a complete edition and for its unprejudiced reception in England. We are indebted to Mr. Rossetti's preface to this selection of his for the sketch given above of the poet's life. With these suggestions, we leave the subject for this time, but will soon recur to it, especially to give some translated specimens of the poet's productions.
Though it is a dubious business to estimate Whitman from specimens. The principle " ex pede Herculem " is hardly quite applicable to him; if in any way a poet, he will be recognised and honored as such in his totality. Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung , Wochenausgabe, no. Translation from New Eclectic Magazine 2 July : —; translator unknown. A little while ago, a few German magazines carried reports on the death of one of the most outstanding North American poets on March 26 of this year, Walt Whitman.
He had died in Camden near Philadelphia in the seventy-fourth year of his life. The few data on his life and work that accompanied this report, reminiscent of the laconicism of a literary encyclopedia, were hardly designed to inspire further interest in the deceased. To inspire such interest, however, is very desirable, because hardly anything relevant has as yet been published on Whitman in German. After all, Whitman is not only the most significant poet of North America, but he belongs to world literature, and that, we believe, with greater justification than his countryman Edgar Poe, who is, in a manner of speaking, known to the whole world.
Our essay does not make any pretensions. It wants to contribute its modest share to awaken the greater interest for Whitman by giving a short picture of the characteristics of the poet as far as we can gather them from the incomplete translation of his Leaves of Grass. In the introduction to their translation, one of the translators, Karl Knortz, calls Whitman an "optimist par excellence. With such a phrase, little is said about a human being who said of himself with these proudly modest words: I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or to be understood, I see that the elementary laws never apologize.
The translators have used these lines as motto for their book and they characterize Whitman better than the dusty phrase of the "optimist par excellence. He can hardly deny his own self and is radically different from the incapacitated romanticism and the christianism from which the "Old World" is presently suffering, with hardly enough breath to throw all kinds of blasphemies against sour grapes.
His "barbaric yawp" sounds "over the roofs of the world" like powerful dithyrambs of a new life and a new strength; they resound in the midst of the funeral hymns of the Old World and announce a new religion, a new art and a new meaning of life. Whitman is neither optimist nor pessimist: he is strength. Whitman was born in on Long Island where his family owned a large farm whose fields the Whitmans tilled with their own hands.
There, in the open countryside, in unspoilt nature, he spent the larger part of his youth. Later, in an American manner, he tried his hand in a variety of professions: he was a printer, teacher, carpenter, journalist, building contractor, etc. Although he was on his way to becoming successful and wealthy in a variety of trades, he eventually gave everything up and started to write poetry. In the 60s, just after the Leaves had appeared, he spent the Civil War on the battlefield and worked as a nurse in the hospitals.
During that time, he earned his living as a newspaper correspondent. For his various services, he received a small job at the Ministry of the Interior which he did not keep for long. He owed his dismissal to the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, a former Methodist preacher, who was morally outraged over the Leaves published in His friends procured for him a new position in the office of the Attorney General which he kept until At that time, he suffered a stroke. His health was shattered as a consequence of the exertions in the war. He improved slowly without ever completely recovering.
Later, he managed to make a small, very modest home for himself in Camden and this is where, without bitterness and complaint, he authored his best poetry which shows a "special religious consecration" I am quoting Rolleston, whose introduction to the translation of the Leaves serves me as a source for this short sketch of Whitman's life , "a quiet, transfigured beauty, contrasting with the mood of the earlier poems just as the starry nocturnal heavens contrast with the sunlit earth.
Thus he created his poetry while continuously changing locations, at times in the midst of the rich colorful traffic of the American metropolis, among the boldest and most enormous achievements of modern industry, at times in the great outdoors of his continent, always in the midst of battle and tumult of a colorful life.
The spirit of his art is as different from the spirit of the middle ages as the medieval spirit was itself different from classical antiquity; it grows as organically out of the middle ages as the medieval spirit grew out of that of classical antiquity. For today, my work is done. It is growing dusky.
Tired and deadened from all my writing I lean out of the window and see how the sunlight at the facade of the high building across from me gradually disappears. And then, after all the reading and all the work, I feel how constricted our lives are, I understand and sense our misery. The street with the jumble and the noise of traffic reaches far down, loses itself in both directions in smoke and in the confusing bustle of the side streets. Above, a narrow, scanty piece of heaven, darkened and polluted by the rising food vapors.
Behind the windows on the other side, all the way down the long street, next to me, above and below me, from all sides a pressing, shoving and constriction and confusion between the gray masses of stone. And, like here, this extends in concentric circles for hours, far into the countryside.
Far, far away somewhere, nature is alive with its free air of the heavens, and its free stars, with its meadows, fields and forests, with mountains, streams, lakes, and seas, far away, unreal like a legend, like a fabulous fairy tale which we read in our children's books. The countless threads through which our life, our feeling, and our perception are connected to infinite mysteries seem to be cut.
We are alone, alone with ourselves, man with man, in the vibrating restlessness of this constriction and its nerve-shattering, confusing pell-mell. Our suffering, our misery and our joys, however, turn into monsters in this all too obvious crowdedness, distorted by a devilish perspective. And all the refinements of our aged culture cannot hide the great, fundamental disease which we have been trying to cure with all kinds of medicines for some time: our lack of religion or, if we want, our lack of energy, the atrophy of our perception.
Our recent ethical endeavors. So many half-hearted attempts to get to the root of our general malaise. But how can we help each other, if we have only an understanding of how we are connected with all things from close and far but not a living perception of them? If we have no "religion" from which alone originates love, self-awareness, joy, force, art, ethics, manhood and comprehension of life? How can we get to the root of the thousandfold misery of a metropolis, the distress of the poor, if we cannot even stand looking at it and if it seduces us to blasphemies against the world?
Now let's think about all the pessimism and all the decadence of our European world. Let's think about all its art, its artifice, its artificiality, its refinements, its moral hangover, all its nervous and yearning distress—and then let's listen to the "optimist par excellence," Walt Whitman. How do we suddenly feel? In free verses, it appears before us with all of its miracles. With unheard-of sounds and rhythms which seem like the fresh roaring of the wind, like the sea waves approaching with their vast rolling splendor. Unfamiliar, totally separate from the refinements from our aged and wizened art.
Victory, union, faith, identity, time, The indissoluble compacts, riches, mystery, Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports. We are forced to stop. This is a child's stammering. Helpless, unwieldy, unarticulate, ridiculous to our well-trained thinking and feeling. But we understand: it is the jubilant helplessness in the face of a new infinite wealth of penetrating perceptions, the surprised jubilant cry with which a child liberates itself from its sweet burden, joyfully, verifying the data it perceives.
There is the blessed, vigorous turmoil of living growth inside. All of this, then, this whole new fullness rushing in on us: This then is life, Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions. How curious! Underfoot the divine soil, overhead the sun. See revolving the globe, The ancestor-continents away group'd together, The present and future continents north and south with the isthmus between.
See, vast trackless spaces, As in a dream they change, they swiftly fill, Countless masses debouch upon them, They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts, institutions, known. See, projected through time, For me an audience interminable. With firm and regular step they wend, they never stop, Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions, One generation playing its part and passing on, Another generation playing its part and passing on in its turn, With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me to listen, With eyes retrospective towards me.
What a language! And when we read on, and the deeper we read into him, the more we are carried away by the power of these old primeval songs. This is the power and the energy of the old Hebrew psalmists and prophets. And yet, everything is so new, so simple and so down-to-earth. No artful devices. Not even one as primitive as that reminiscent of the parallelismus membrorum of old Hebrew poetry. This language is as earthly as one can imagine, oftentimes just stating, almost with American soberness, that which is.
And yet it has as much passionate rhetoric, overwhelming and entrancing, as ever existed. An infinite rhythm, and an infinite melody. Just as the storm has a rhythm of rising and ebbing and newly rising, just as the sea waves have their rhythm, the air shimmering in the warmth of the sun, the song of the birds, the infinite movement of nature. The power and the warmth of healthy blood, freely and freshly pulsating through the body, an unprecedented energy and original intimacy of perception penetrating distance and closeness and all appearances, surrendering to the movement of its becoming and changing with powerful terror, in which vibrations of the eternally moving atoms tremble, free respiration of healthy lungs, the light power of unspoilt eyes, the haleness and elasticity of unimpaired muscles: all of this gives power to these songs, their passion with which they liberate themselves from everything that they call art and artifice, or they expand to the audacity and the power of the living nature.
The naivete of a child perceiving a new object and calling its name ten, twenty, a hundred times in succession without becoming tired, with equal delight over the same activity of its vocal chords and over the properties of the object thus designated. A crowded wealth of impressions, only semi-conscious thoughts, impossible to express them fully in intelligible, measured sequence. They push and hold back in a disorderly race; obscurity, mysticism next to plainness and sober clarity. And by all of this, one feels repelled and attracted, just as nature attracts and repels, surrenders itself and denies itself, transparent and mystical with the eternal rhythm of appearances, monotonous yet of infinite variety.
And what a mood! Misery and happiness, poverty and wealth, all the incompressible oppositions which tortured us in our narrow life: they can no longer harm us or obscure the connectedness of all things. And yet: Everything is there, everything in its place, ordered and redeemed from all conflict through the powerful rhythm of all occurrences and appearances.
Everything dissolves in one large feeling of strength and life emphasizing and enclosing all. All the connections with which the individual, the separate is infinitely connected with all that has happened since the first beginning, seemingly dissolved in the consciousness of life, here becomes apparent again in a powerful mood. This is how powerful the religious mood is in Whitman and with how much energy it expresses itself. Everything lives in him, in you, in all of us, is contained and enclosed by us: humans, stars, times, animals, plants, stones.
Everything is us and we are everything. What, then, are beginning and end, birth and death? Everything is eternal movement. Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world. We are everything there was and everything there will be; there is no difference between these two; everything is one. Nothing is offensive or mean.
Copulation is no more offensive than death. Everything is a miracle. The body is something miraculous that must be revered. In this spirit, he transfers the attributes of his body to everything that comes in touch with him. His mother and his young sister Adele moved to Weimar, where his mother succeeded in joining the social circle of the poets J.
Arthur himself had to remain in Hamburg for more than a year, yet with more freedom to engage in the arts and sciences. In May he was finally able to leave Hamburg. During the next two years, spent in Gotha and Weimar, he acquired the necessary academic preparation for attendance at a university. As early as his second semester, however, he transferred to the humanities, concentrating first on the study of Plato and Immanuel Kant. From to he attended the University of Berlin where he heard such philosophers as J.
The following winter —14 he spent in Weimar, in intimate association with Goethe , with whom he discussed various philosophical topics. In May he left his beloved Weimar after a quarrel with his mother over her frivolous way of life, of which he disapproved. His next three years were dedicated exclusively to the preparation and composition of his main work, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung ; The World as Will and Idea.
The fundamental idea of this work—which is condensed into a short formula in the title itself—is developed in four books composed of two comprehensive series of reflections that include successively the theory of knowledge and the philosophy of nature , aesthetics , and ethics. The first book begins with Kant. The world is my representation, says Schopenhauer.
But these constructs show the world only as appearance, as a multiplicity of things next to and following one another—not as the thing in itself, which Kant considered to be unknowable. The second book advances to a consideration of the essences of the concepts presented. Of all the things in the world, only one is presented to a person in two ways: he knows himself externally as body or as appearance, and he knows himself internally as part of the primary essence of all things, as will.
The will is the thing in itself; it is unitary, unfathomable, unchangeable, beyond space and time, without causes and purposes. In the world of appearances, it is reflected in an ascending series of realizations. From the blind impulses in the forces of inorganic nature, through organic nature plants and animals to the rationally guided actions of men, an enormous chain of restless desires, agitations, and drives stretch forth—a continual struggle of the higher forms against the lower, an eternally aimless and insatiable striving, inseparably united with misery and misfortune.
At the end, however, stands death , the great reproof that the will-to-live receives, posing the question to each single person: Have you had enough? Whereas the first two books present the will in an affirmative mode, the last two, dealing with aesthetics and ethics , surpass them by pointing to the negation of the will as a possible liberation. The arts summon man to a will-less way of viewing things, in which the play of the passions ceases.
To the succession of levels achieved by the realizations of the will corresponds a gradation of levels in the arts, from the lowest—the art of building architecture —through the art of poetry to the highest of arts—music. But the arts liberate a person only momentarily from the service of the will. A genuine liberation results only from breaking through the bounds of individuality imposed by the ego. Whoever feels acts of compassion, selflessness, and human kindness and feels the suffering of other beings as his own is on the way to the abnegation of the will to life, achieved by the saints of all peoples and times in asceticism.
In the many years thereafter, no further development of his philosophy occurred, no inner struggles or changes, no critical reorganization of basic thoughts. From then onward, his work consisted merely of more detailed exposition, clarification, and affirmation. In March , after a lengthy first tour of Italy and a triumphant dispute with Hegel , he qualified to lecture at the University of Berlin. Though he remained a member of the university for 24 semesters, only his first lecture was actually held; for he had scheduled and continued to schedule his lectures at the same hour when Hegel lectured to a large and ever-growing audience.
Clearly, he could not successfully challenge a persistently advancing philosophy. Even his book received scant attention. For a second time Schopenhauer went on a year-long trip to Italy, and this was followed by a year of illness in Munich. In May he made one last attempt in Berlin, but in vain. He now occupied himself with secondary works, primarily translations.
During his remaining 28 years, he lived in Frankfurt, which he felt to be free from the threat of cholera , and left the city only for brief interludes. He had finally renounced his career as a university professor and lived henceforth as a recluse, totally absorbed in his studies especially in the natural sciences and his writings. His life now took on the shape that posterity first came to know: the measured uniformity of the days; the strict, ascetic lifestyle modeled after Kant; the old-fashioned attire; the tendency to gesticulative soliloquy.
His leisure, though, was not idle. He also published essays. Finally, a rather obscure Berlin bookseller accepted the manuscript without remuneration. In this book, which brought the beginning of worldwide recognition, Schopenhauer turned to significant topics hitherto not treated individually within the framework of his writings: the work of six years yielded the essays and comments compiled in two volumes under the title Parerga und Paralipomena During the last years of his life, he added the finishing touches to most of his works.
Even a third edition of The World as Will and Idea, containing an exultant preface, appeared in and, in , a second edition of his Ethics. During this time, the actual impact and influence of Schopenhauer began to spread.
By turning away from spirit and reason to the powers of intuition , creativity , and the irrational, his thought has affected—partly via Nietzsche—the ideas and methods of vitalism, of life philosophy, of existential philosophy, and of anthropology. The philosophy of history of Jacob Burckhardt , a Swiss cultural historian, also proceeds from Schopenhauer. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval.
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