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The Image of Martin Luther in the Writings of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel

The Speculative Vision of History and Religion


Sara Ann Malsch-Wilkinson

This study investigates the Romantic image of Martin Luther as revealed in the writings of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. Both of these poets' visions of Luther are conceived primarily in terms of his historical significance: the century-long impact of the spirit he generated, freedom and specifically freedom of thought («Denkfreiheit»). This idea provides the unifying perspective of this investigation. For the Romantics Luther manifests antithetical aspects of the isolated force of free reason. In embodying the principle of rationalism he is the reinstator of absolutism, the reactionary. In incarnating the principle of progressive reason, he is the herald of freedom, the revolutionary. The authoress sees in him at the same time an enslavor of humanity, who impeded spiritual development and the emancipator, who furthered the evolution of the Spirit - both the archetype of Christ and his Luciferian adversary.