To romanticize the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite. – Novalis

Doing my rounds on Facebook, I came across this sublime quote. I looked up this character and found two articles:

His real name was Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (2nd May 1772 – 25th March 1801). I am getting very intrigued by this young German philosopher in the early Romantic tradition. Like many philosophers and poets of that era, he died very young of tuberculosis. He also had long natural hair, which was more in fashion in the eighteenth century than now. I recognise many of the themes and constructs from German idealism and Romanticism.

Like Nicholas Berdyaev, he was very influenced by his extensive reading of Jakob Böhme, and we find many themes of mystical Lutheranism.

Time to get reading….

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5 Responses to Novalis

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I’m always meaning to read more Novalis, in German (laboriously) or in English translation, and somehow never getting around to it…(!) George MacDonald, as the Wikipedia article notes (in quieter tones) was a great admirer of Novalis, and translated some of his poetry, having it printed to give away as Christmas presents – which may have contributed to his troubles with some of the members of the Congregational Church whose minister he was at that point.

    I heard some excellent lectures by the late Professor S.S. Prawer on Novalis, notably on his Heinrich von Ofterdingen – an English translation of which ‘Romance’ or novel can be found transcribed at Project Gutenberg.

    MacDonald’s translation of ‘Hymns to the Night’ is well-read (to my thinking) by the American volunteer, Pete Williams, at

    Recordings of Alphons Diepenbrock’s settings of two of the Hymnen an die Nacht can be found on YouTube, as can recordings of (some? – probably all?) of Schubert’s six settings of Novalis (listed in the German ‘Novalis’ Wikipedia article).

    I wish you joy of your getting acquainted, and maybe this will get me finally reading Heinrich von Ofterdingen,too!

    • I have just found the biographical essay by Thomas Carlyle and the McDonald translation of Hymns to the Night along with other works in a Kindle book to read on my smartphone during those many waiting situations in life. I look forward to getting on with it and discovering this young gentleman. Learning German at my age seems a tall order even though I acquired a smattering in it when I was up at Fribourg.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Excellent! (I often even read in queues in shops if they seem long or slow enough…) My undergraduate German helped me get started with Dutch which seems now to help my German… though I never know in advance if a given swatch of German is going to be intelligible or not…

        I’ve never properly tried to read the Hymnen an die Nacht with MacDonald’s translation next to the German to help me along, but I think I will, now!

  2. Little Black Sambo says:

    A bit of relaxing sideways reading might include “The Blue Flower” by Penelope Fitzgerald, about the young Novalis; very enjoyable.

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