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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 12. The Channeling of a Literary Revolution: Goethe, Schiller, and the Genesis of German Romanticism


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Goethe, Schiller, and the Genesis of German Romanticism

In the summer of 1991—after years of “seeking them with the soul” through research work on German Classicism and Romanticism—I finally had the opportunity to visit Weimar and Jena for myself. I was prepared to find the historic centers of both towns small, but was not expecting the shabbiness of the buildings in Weimar once away from the main promenade between the Goethe and Schiller houses. Particularly startling was the rear facade of the ducal palace, which was never the most imposing edifice even in its heyday but which now looked more like an abandoned warehouse or the back of a Potemkin village than a princely residence. This sight served as a symbolic reminder that while both East and West Germany had used Goethe, Schiller, and their respective birth and work places—Frankfurt, Marbach, Weimar, and Jena—as landmarks of cultural identity, the reality behind the facade may not always have been as glorious as one might have supposed at first glance.1

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