Early New High German Literature (around 1350 to after 1650) Part III

Early New High German Literature 3

The baroque poetry is based on the vernacular poetry of the 16th century: the tradition of the Protestant hymn, the master song, the folk song, the society song, which goes back to Italian sources, especially the madrigal and Italian dance forms. The translation and lyrical adaptation of the “Huguenot Psalter”, the hymn book of Calvinism, had an effect on them, as did the models of neo-Latin poetry: the ode for sophisticated, v. a. religious feelings; the elegy as a form for the erotic, also spiritual celebration; the eclogue for an idyllic mood; the epigram for polemics. Of great importance was the adoption of the motifs of Petrarkism from the Italian poetry of the 15th century. P. Fleming’s love poetry used the canon of forms and formulas of the Petrarkic system with the elements of the women’s prize and the complaint about the unattainability of love up to the death wish, presented in mental antithetics and metaphorical language.

The shepherd poetry was introduced by Opitz and varied by D. Czepko. By adopting the French ode, G. R. Weckherlin became the creator of the German ode form. The poetry of the Catholic religious poets was also momentous: F. Spee von Langenfeld’s “Trutz Nachtigal” (published 1649) uses the emotionally charged symbolic language of medieval bridal mysticism, which lives from the erotic images of the “Song of Songs”, interspersed with formulas of Petrarkism. The spiritual theme and the treasure trove of a spiritualized Petrarkism, the “Jesusminne”, can also be found in Angelus Silesius; his famous collection of poems “Cherubinischer Wander-Mann…” (1657; complete 1675) is in the tradition of Eckhart’s mysticism. Other poets influenced by mysticism were J. C. Knorr von Rosenroth (“Neuer Helicon”, 1684), Q. Kuhlmann (“Kühlpsalter”, 3 parts, 1684–86) and Catarina Regina von Greiffenberg. A special form of baroque poetry is the poetic mysticism of letters, syllables and numbers. Gryphius wrote from the basic baroque experience of transience and the helplessness of man in his unconsoled temporal fear of death. He used the sonnet as an ideal form of the antithetical statement (“Son- undt Feyrtags-Sonnete”, 1639). The elegant verses of C. Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau pay homage to the ideal of worldly enjoyment in the tradition of marinism. The Protestant hymn was v. a. represented by P. GerhardtF. von Logau was the master of the epigram (“Deutscher Sinn-Getichte Drey Tausend”, 3 volumes, 1654).

The history of the German baroque novel begins with translations of foreign-language novels, such as von Opitzvon ZesenHarsdörffer and Moscherosch. Popular were the “Amadisroman”, Longos ‘ “Daphnis and Chloe”,  Petronius’“Satiricon”,Heliodors “Aithiopiká”, further the “Argenis” by J. Barclay (1621; German von Opitz, 2 parts, 1626–31) and P. Sidney’s “Arcadia” (2nd version 1590; German von Opitz, 1629). The first German art novel of the 17th century, P. von Zesens“Adriatic Rosemund” (1645), stood in marked opposition to the popular Italian and Spanish love story. Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel published the monumental novels »Die Durchleuchtige Syrerin Aramena« (5 volumes, 1669–73) and »Octavia, Römische Geschichte« (6 volumes, 1677–1707). Since the translation of the “Astrée” of Honoré d’Urfé, the shepherd novel became fashionable, initially with a mixture of prose, dialogue and poetry. The realistic correction of the courtly novel was brought about by the picaresque novel of Spanish and later French origin (for example the anonymous “Lazarillo de Tormes…”, 1554, German 1617; M. Alemáns “Guzmán von Alfarache…”, 1599–1604, German 1615; C Sorels “True and funny history of the life of Francion”, 1623, German 1647). Utopian counter-designs wanted to point out ways out of the conflicts of the present, according to the “Rosicrucian” writings J. V. Andreäs (inter alia “Chymische Hochzeit…”, 1616), which had an effect far into the following centuries. The stands Satire led H. M. Moscherosch in his major work “Whimsical and warhafftige face Philanders of custom Walt” (2 volumes, the first time in 1640) continued.

The climax of the German baroque novel and the most powerful literary work of the 17th century is »The Adventurous Simplicissimus Teutsch« (1669) by J. J. C. von Grimmelshausen.

He found many imitators. Only J. Beer can be regarded as equal with his picaresque novels, which burst the baroque frame with a non-pathetic view of the world that is joyful in this world.

Essentially, the novels of the second half of the 17th century continued the baroque tradition, such as Lohenstein’s “Generous General Arminius…” (2 volumes, 1689–90), the most cohesive, system-rigorous novel of the Baroque period, which had an educational purpose with a universal historical theological conception. One of the most successful novels, which was also dramatized, was H. A. von Ziegler and Kliphausen’s “The Asian Banise…” (1689). The “gallant novels”, in which heroic events receded in favor of entanglements in love, already refer to the fashions of the first decades of the 18th century. A. Bohse (called Talander) and C. F. Hunold (called Menantes), as well as the “political” novels by C. Weise and C. Reuter(“Schelmuffsky’s Warhrachtige Curious and Very Dangerous Travel Description…”, 2 parts, 1696–97).

Early New High German Literature 3