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From Goethe to Novalis

Studies in Classicism and Romanticism: "Festschrift</I> for Dennis F. Mahoney in Celebration of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday

Wolfgang Mieder

This Festschrift in honor of Dennis F. Mahoney’s sixty-fifth birthday is somewhat different from the standard Festschrift: rather than present essays from various authors, this Festschrift collects twenty-one of Mahoney’s most important English-language publications on German Classicism and Romanticism published over the past thirty years. Mahoney is the author and editor of many articles and books in German and English, among them Die Poetisierung der Natur bei Novalis (1980), Der Roman der Goethezeit (1988), The Eighteenth Century and Uses of the Past (1992), The Critical Fortunes of a Romantic Novel: Novalis’s «Heinrich von Ofterdingen» (1994), The End of Enlightenment (2000), Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) (2001), and Literature of German Romanticism (2004).
Mahoney has taught German language, culture, literature, and film at the University of Vermont for thirty-five years, and has received national and international recognition. On campus he has been a champion of international education, advising students about studying abroad, setting up an exchange program with the University of Augsburg, and inviting students and colleagues from Germany to Vermont. He has received an Excellence in Teaching Award, an Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education, and he was the first American to be named president of the International Novalis Society.
The title of this Festschrift captures Mahoney’s life-long occupation with this rich period of German cultural, intellectual, and literary life. The essays display his erudition and expertise on such subjects as the multifaceted Age of Goethe, including the continuing discussion of the nature of the Bildungsroman and the influence of the French Revolution. The essays deal primarily with Goethe, Schiller, and Novalis, but Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Georg Forster, Caroline von Wolzogen, Jean Paul, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Achim von Amim, and others are discussed as well. These individual essays are representative of Mahoney’s accomplishments as a literary scholar – and a remarkable professor, colleague, and friend.
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Chapter 10. “Painting the Red Flower Blue”: Developments in Research on the Novels of the Age of Goethe since 1968


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Developments in Research on the Novels of the Age of Goethe since 1968

In the history of the German novel, the Age of Goethe proved to be a watershed, with Goethe’s own contributions to this genre giving the term Goethezeit particular meaning. Die Leiden des jungen Werthers not only inspired a spate of successors throughout all of Europe (Hoffmeister 147–60), but also signaled the advent of the novel conceived as an autonomous work of art, as opposed to an aesthetically inferior vehicle for advancing the cause of virtue.1 Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, in addition to serving as the prototypical Bildungsroman for Dilthey and successors, also profoundly influenced the novels and theoretical discourse of the Early Romantics (Heselhaus 113–27). Die Wahlverwandtschaften revived critical interest in the novel after the collapse of the book market caused by the Napoleonic campaigns of 1805–1808 and spurred a new direction for the novel in Germany, as seen by the Zeitromane of Arnim and Eichendorff and the social novel of the later nineteenth century (cf. Kolbe). Finally, the problematic reception of Goethe’s final novel Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre signaled the turn to a less daring narrative strategy; from the Young German theoreticians onwards, the Lehrjahre, not the Wanderjahre, came to be emulated for decades to come (Steinecke 89–111).

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