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Sanctuaries of Light in Nineteenth-Century European Literature

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Hugo G. Walter

This collection of insightful and provocative essays explores the theme of sanctuaries of light in nineteenth-century European literature, especially in selected works by William Wordsworth, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Joseph von Eichendorff, and Charlotte Brontë. These sanctuaries of light, natural beauty, and serenity comfort, nurture, and revitalize the heart, mind, and soul of the individual and inspire creative expression.
This book will be of interest to professors, teachers, and scholars in the fields of English literature, German literature, European literature, comparative literature, and cultural studies.

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Chapter 3

Extract

Joseph von Eichendorff Joseph von Eichendorff, one of the greatest and most lyrically vital poets in the history of German and of European literature, often describes and presents images of light and radiance in his poetry. Images of light play an important role not only in offering an aura of radiance or a sense of luminescence as a contrast or complement to images of darkness but also in suggesting the existence of a religious and a spiritual light which permeates the soul of the sensitive individual and creates an aura of transcendence beyond the challenges, hardships, and idiosyncrasies of everyday mortality. When images of light in Eichendorff’s poetry are stressed within the context of the day, they are typically associated with goodness, hope, faith, happiness, longing, love, Wanderlust, or a spatial expansiveness. When images of light in the poetry of Eichendorff are revealed at night, they may be connected with the same qualities and dimensions as those of the day, but most especially with longing, Wanderlust, faith, and hope. I would first like to examine a number of poems by Eichendorff which celebrate the importance of the light and which reveal sanctuaries of light, whether transient or permanent, quietly radiant or brilliantly effulgent. Eichendorff’s “Abschied” (“Farewell”) describes a profound sanctuary of light and spiritual comfort which will sustain the persona throughout his life, even when he has departed from this beautiful natural landscape. In “Abschied” the persona achieves the continuity of the self which Wordsworth celebrates as being so important...

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