Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Novalis: Hymns to the Night

Hymns to the Night, Novalis (trans. Dick Higgins) (3rd ed., MacPherson & Co., 1988)

13/100]

Apart from Schlegel's fragments, a couple volumes of Hölderlin, & a few of Goethe's lyrics, German Romanticism is terra incognita to me. Who woulda thought that Dick Higgins, Fluxus artist & the guy behind Something Else Press, had translated Novalis's gloomy prose poetry & free verse set of death-meditations? The translations strike me as solid enough, if not particularly felicitous sometimes; Higgins translates into a kind of colorless contemporary English, rather than the ersatz "Romantic" diction one encounters way too often in this field, but he's no Richard Sieburth or Christopher Middleton. And my cold fish inability to buy into the Romantic excess of it all leaves me a bit chilly – tho I'm intrigued by some of Novalis's reworkings of mythological & Christian material.

3 comments:

Peter said...

Mark/

Do yourself a favor & pick up Penelope Fitzgerald's novel The Blue Flower, which recounts Novalis' falling in love with the homely, mercurial, muselicious Sophie von Kuehn. It's a little masterpiece & you'll likely find your sense of Fritz von Hardenberg transformed.

Peter

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cheap viagra said...

The Hymns to the Night display a universal religion with an intermediary. This concept is based on the idea that there is always a third party between a human and God. This intermediary can either be Jesus – as in Christian lore – or the dead beloved as in the hymns.