Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

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Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Friedrich de la Motte-Fouque in Husarenuniform.jpg
Born12 February 1777
Brandenburg an der Havel, Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, Holy Roman Empire
Died23 January 1843 (1843-01-24) (aged 65)
Berlin, Prussia, Germany
OccupationWriter, novelist
Genre Fantasy
Literary movement German romanticism
Notable works Undine

Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué (12 February 1777 – 23 January 1843) was a German writer of the Romantic style.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Contents

Biography

He was born at Brandenburg an der Havel, of a family of French Huguenot origin, as evidenced in his family name. His grandfather, Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué, had been one of Frederick the Great's generals and his father was a Prussian officer. Although not originally intended for a military career, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué ultimately gave up his university studies at Halle to join the army, and he took part in the Rhine campaign of 1794. The rest of his life was devoted mainly to literary pursuits. He was introduced to August Wilhelm Schlegel, who deeply influenced him as a poet ("mich gelehret Maß und Regel | Meister August Wilhelm Schlegel") and who published Fouqué's first book, Dramatische Spiele von Pellegrin, in 1804.

Brandenburg an der Havel Place in Brandenburg, Germany

Brandenburg an der Havel is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, which served as the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg until replaced by Berlin in 1417.

Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué German general

Ernst Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué was a Prussian Lieutenant general and General der Infanterie and a confidante of King Frederick the Great. Fouqué held the title of Freiherr (baron).

Frederick the Great king of Prussia

Frederick II ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.

Marriage

Fouqué's first marriage was unhappy and soon ended in divorce. His second wife, Caroline Philippine von Briest (1773–1831), enjoyed some reputation as a novelist in her day. After her death Fouqué married a third time. Some consolation for the ebbing tide of popular favour was afforded him by the munificence of Frederick William IV of Prussia, who granted him a pension which allowed him to spend his later years in comfort. He died in Berlin in 1843.

Frederick William IV of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William IV, the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. Also referred to as the "romanticist on the throne", he is best remembered for the many buildings he had constructed in Berlin and Potsdam, as well as for the completion of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral. In politics, he was a conservative, and in 1849 rejected the title of Emperor of the Germans offered by the Frankfurt Parliament as not the Parliament's to give. In 1857, he suffered a stroke and was left incapacitated until his death. His brother Wilhelm served as regent for the rest of his reign and then succeeded him as King.

For Fouqué's life see Lebensgeschichte des Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (only to the year 1813), Aufgezeichnet durch ihn selbst (Halle, 1840), and also the introduction to Koch's selections in the Deutsche Nationalliteratur.

Literary work

Memorial plaque to Friedrich de la Motte Fouque in Meissen Memorial plaque to Friedrich de la Motte Fouque in Meissen.jpg
Memorial plaque to Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in Meissen

Romantic roots

After Dramatische Spiele von Pellegrin, his second work, Romanzen vom Tal Ronceval (1805), showed more plainly his allegiance to the romantic leaders, and in the Historie vom edlen Ritter Galmy (1806) he versified a 16th-century romance of medieval chivalry.

Chivalry traditional ideology and code of conduct of knights

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal, varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220, but never decided on or summarized in a single document. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood; knights' and gentlewomen's behaviours were governed by chivalrous social codes. The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially the Matter of Britain and Matter of France, the former based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written in the 1130s, which introduced the legend of King Arthur. All of these were taken as historically accurate until the beginnings of modern scholarship in the 19th century.

Sigurd der Schlangentödter, ein Heldenspiel in sechs Abentheuren (1808), was the first modern German dramatization of the Nibelung legend combining Icelandic sources such as the Volsunga Saga and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. The play and its two sequels Sigurds Rache (1809) and Aslauga (1810) were published together under the title Der Held des Nordens in 1810. The trilogy brought Fouqé to the attention of the public, and had a considerable influence on subsequent versions of the story, such as Friedrich Hebbel's Nibelungen and Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen .

The term Nibelung (German) or Niflung is a personal or clan name with several competing and contradictory uses in Germanic heroic legend. It has an unclear etymology, but is often connected to the root nebel, meaning mist. The term in its various meanings gives its name to the Middle High German heroic epic the Nibelungenlied.

<i>Nibelungenlied</i> literary work

The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem from around 1200 written in Middle High German. Its anonymous poet was likely from the region of Passau. The Nibelungenlied is based on an oral tradition that has some of its origin in historic events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries and that spread throughout almost all of Germanic-speaking Europe. Parallels to the German poem from Scandinavia are found especially in the heroic lays of the Poetic Edda and in the Völsunga saga.

Richard Wagner German composer

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

These early writings indicate the lines which Fouqué's subsequent literary activity followed; his interests were divided between medieval chivalry on the one hand and northern mythology on the other. In 1813, the year of the rising against Napoleon, he again fought with the Prussian army, and the new patriotism awakened in the German people left its mark upon his writings.

Napoleon 19th century French military leader and politician

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader of Italian descent who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Between 1810 and 1815, Fouqué's popularity was at its height; the many romances and novels, plays and epics which he produced with extraordinary rapidity, appealed greatly to the mood of the hour. Undine appeared around 1811, the only work by which Fouqué's memory still lives today. A more comprehensive idea of his talent may, however, be obtained from the two romances Der Zauberring (1813) and Die Fahrten Thiodolfs des Isländers (1815).

Later years

From 1820 onwards the quality of Fouqué's work deteriorated, partly owing to the fatal formal ease with which he wrote, and he failed to keep pace with the changes in German taste by clinging to the paraphernalia of romanticism. His rivals applied a sobriquet of "Don Quixote of Romanticism" to him.

Translations

Most of Fouqué's works have been translated. Menella Bute Smedley, for instance, translated his ballad, "The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains." The English versions of Aslauga's Knight (by Thomas Carlyle), Sintram and his Companions and Undine have been frequently republished.

Influence

Fouqué's play Der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg (The Song Contest on the Wartburg) is likely one of the sources for Wagner's Tannhäuser . [1] Goethe was not impressed by it, remarking to Eckermann: "We both agreed that all his life this poet had engaged in old Germanic studies, however without being able to develop this into a culture of his own making." [2] Robert Louis Stevenson admired Fouqué's story "The Bottle Imp" and wrote his own version ( The Bottle Imp ) with a Hawaiian setting. [3] John Henry Newman and Charlotte Mary Yonge both praised Sintram and his Companions. William Morris also became an admirer of Sintram and his Companions, and it influenced Morris' own fiction. [3] Sintram and his Companions and Undine are referred to in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; the character Jo mentions wanting them for Christmas in the first chapter of the book and finally receives them in chapter 22. Aslauga's Knight as well as Sintram and his Companions and Undine are referred to in Jo's Boys, the final book in Alcott's Little Women series, where the story of Aslauga's Knight mirrors the character Dan and his affection for gentle Bess.

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References

  1. Steele 2015, Der Fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser pp. 20–34.
  2. Johann Peter Eckerman: Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Friday, 3 Oktober 1828 The original full quote is: "Ich sprach diesen Mittag bei Tisch mit Goethe über Fouqués ›Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg‹, den ich auf seinen Wunsch gelesen. Wir kamen darin überein, daß dieser Dichter sich zeitlebens mit altdeutschen Studien beschäftiget, und daß am Ende keine Kultur für ihn daraus hervorgegangen."
  3. 1 2 Mike Ashley, "Fouqué, Friedrich (Heinrich Karl),(Baron) de la Motte" in St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, edited by David Pringle. St. James Press, 1996, (p. 654-5) . ISBN   1-55862-205-5

Bibliography

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 749–750.