Heinrich Von Ofterdingen: Individualism And Romanticism In Literature

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Born in a transitional, alienating historical period of specialised sciences, social reform, individualism and political revolutions, Novalis believed in the idea that poets are born at a time of conflict in the history of humanity (1:264). Heinrich von Ofterdingen is one of the earliest illustrations of a German Romantic hero’s destiny in a tumultuous time: an elevation of himself above the stifling social conventions by his creative force and the expansion of his mind into the mysterious and unknown. It is a pure poetic exemplification of Novalis’s significant philosophical fragments: “Die Welt muß romantisiert werden. So findet man den ursprünglichen Sinn wieder. . . Indem ich dem Gemeinen einen hohen Sinn, dem Gewöhnlichen ein geheimnisvolles …show more content…
Heinrich von Ofterdingen paints the portrait of a young, socially isolated man’s initiation into an artist, which was a common occurrence in the literary works of German Romantic fiction. This prominence of an emerging artist as the Romantic protagonist primarily stemmed from: Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, and the early Romantics’ challenge to its conclusion that they deemed …show more content…
Wilhelm’s abandonment of his creative potential and his acceptances of the Turmgesellschaft disappointed and even infuriated the Romantics; they envisioned a life that was liberated from the conservative order, as they received neither an acceptance nor a patronage from their society. Upon his reading, Novalis produced a strong remark, saying that “Der Held retardirt das Eindringen des Evangeliums der Ökonomie” (3:647). Nevertheless, Wilhelm Meister gave the Romantics a motivating force to experiment with literary works; they wished to elevate the young, artistic protagonist, beyond the mundane that Wilhelm Meister has subsided into, and towards his conception of an ideal world. The Romanticization by the hero’s bestowing of a higher meaning to the mundane meant the finding a fulfilment of life “through identification with a greater whole” (Prawer 11). Most prominently, Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis was an attempt to continue the mission of the Romantic ideals that Wilhelm Meister failed, as he claimed: “Goethe wird und muss übertroffen werden”

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