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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

Edited By 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 17. Human History as Natural History in Die Lehrlinge zu Sais and Heinrich von Ofterdingen

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·17·

HUMAN HISTORY AS NATURAL HISTORY IN DIE LEHRLINGE ZU SAIS AND HEINRICH VON OFTERDINGEN

In his article “New Historicism and the Study of German Literature,” Anton Kaes articulates a position that can be of help as we undertake a fresh look at Novalis, the late eighteenth century, and indeed other writers, writings, and historical periods:

All cultural production has a social dimension: it articulates what a society lacks and desires. It delivers in the make-believe world of fiction what cannot be had or said in reality. In order to reactivate this social dimension of a literary text, one must reconstruct the question(s) that the work answers and addresses. The classical works of German literature in particular need to be understood once again as answers to questions that have their basis in the material as well as the ideological world.1

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