Stefan George

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Stefan George
Stefan George 1910 Foto Jakob Hilsdorf.jpg
Stefan George, 1910.
BornStefan Anton George
12 July 1868 (1868-07-12)
Büdesheim, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died4 December 1933 (1933-12-05) (aged 65)
Minusio, Ticino, Switzerland
Occupation Poet
Language German
NationalityGerman
Notable awards Goethe Prize (1927)
From 1921 George spent his summers in the hills on the south-western edge of Frankfurt at this house in Konigstein, where he was attended by his sister, Anna. Wohnhaus Stefan Georges in Konigstein, Limburger Str. 19.JPG
From 1921 George spent his summers in the hills on the south-western edge of Frankfurt at this house in Königstein, where he was attended by his sister, Anna.

Stefan Anton George (German: [ˈʃtɛfan ˈantoːn ɡeˈɔʁɡə] ; 12 July 1868 4 December 1933) was a German symbolist poet and a translator of Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, and Charles Baudelaire.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

Dante Alighieri Italian poet

Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri, commonly known by his pen name Dante Alighieri or simply as Dante, was an Italian poet during the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.

William Shakespeare 16th and 17th-century English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Contents

Biography

George was born in 1868 in Büdesheim (now part of Bitburg-Prüm) in the Grand Duchy of Hesse (now part of Rhineland-Palatinate). His father, also Stefan George, was an inn keeper and wine merchant and his mother Eva (née Schmitt) was a homemaker. His schooling was concluded successfully during 1888, after which he spent time in London and in Paris, where he was among the writers and artists who attended the Tuesday soirées held by the poet Stéphane Mallarmé. His early travels also included Vienna, where during 1891 he met, for the first time, Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Büdesheim Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Büdesheim is a municipality in the district of Bitburg-Prüm, in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany.

The Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm is a district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is bounded by Luxembourg, Belgium and the districts of Euskirchen, Vulkaneifel, Bernkastel-Wittlich and Trier-Saarburg.

Grand Duchy of Hesse member state of the German Confederation

The Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine was a grand duchy in western Germany that existed from 1806 to the end of the German Empire in 1918. The grand duchy originally formed on the basis of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1806 as the Grand Duchy of Hesse. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, it changed its name in 1816 to distinguish itself from the Electorate of Hesse, which had formed from neighboring Hesse-Kassel. Colloquially, the grand duchy continued to be known by its former name of Hesse-Darmstadt. It joined the German Empire in 1871 and became a republic after German defeat in World War I in 1918.

George began to publish poetry during the 1890s, while in his twenties. He initiated and edited a literary magazine named Blätter für die Kunst  [ de ], and was the main person of the literary and academic group known as the George-Kreis ("George-Circle"), which included some of the major, young writers of the time such as Friedrich Gundolf and Ludwig Klages. In addition to sharing cultural interests, the group promoted mystical and political themes. George knew and befriended the "Bohemian Countess" of Schwabing, Fanny zu Reventlow, who sometimes satirised the group for its melodramatic actions and opinions. George and his writings were identified with the Conservative Revolutionary philosophy. He was a homosexual, yet exhorted his young friends to have a celibate life like his own. [1] [2]

Literary magazine periodical devoted to literature

A literary magazine is a periodical devoted to literature in a broad sense. Literary magazines usually publish short stories, poetry, and essays, along with literary criticism, book reviews, biographical profiles of authors, interviews and letters. Literary magazines are often called literary journals, or little magazines, terms intended to contrast them with larger, commercial magazines.

George-Kreis literary society

The George-Kreis was an influential German literary group centred on the charismatic author Stefan George. Formed in the late 19th century, when George published a new literary magazine called Blätter für die Kunst, the group featured many highly regarded writers and academics. In addition to sharing cultural interests, the circle reflected mystical and political themes within the sphere of the Conservative Revolutionary movement. The group disbanded when George died in December 1933.

Friedrich Gundolf German poet

Friedrich Gundolf, born Friedrich Leopold Gundelfinger was a German-Jewish literary scholar and poet and one of the best known academics of the Weimar Republic.

During 1914, at the start of the World War, George foretold a sad end for Germany, and between then and 1916 wrote the pessimistic poem "Der Krieg" ("The War"). The outcome of the war was the realization of his worst fears. In the 1920s, George despised the culture of Germany, particularly its bourgeois mentality and archaic church rites. He wished to create a new, noble German culture, and offered "form", regarded as a mental discipline and a guide to relationships with others, as an ideal while Germany was in a period of social, political, spiritual and artistic decadence. [3] George's poetry was discovered by the small but ascendant Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), a precursor to Nazism, which had its roots in Bavaria. George's concepts of "the thousand year Reich" and "fire of the blood" were adopted by the NSDAP and incorporated into the party's propaganda. George would come to detest their racial theories, especially the notion of the “Nordic superman”. [4] After the assumption of power by the Nazis in 1933, Joseph Goebbels offered him the presidency of a new academy for the arts, which he refused. He also stayed away from celebrations prepared for his 65th birthday in July 1933. Instead he travelled to Switzerland, where he died near Locarno on 4 December 1933. After his death, his body was interred before a delegation from the German government could attend the ceremony. [5]

Bavaria State in Germany

Bavaria, officially the Free State of Bavaria, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, occupying its southeastern corner. With an area of 70,550.19 square kilometres, Bavaria is the largest German state by land area comprising roughly a fifth of the total land area of Germany. With 13 million inhabitants, it is Germany's second-most-populous state after North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria's main cities are Munich and Nuremberg.

Joseph Goebbels Nazi politician and Propaganda Minister

Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest and most devoted associates, and was known for his skills in public speaking and his deeply virulent antisemitism, which was evident in his publicly voiced views. He advocated progressively harsher discrimination, including the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

Work

George's poetry is characterized by an aristocratic ethos; his verse is formal in style, lyrical in tone, and often arcane in language, being influenced by Greek classical forms, in revolt against the realist trend of German literature at the time. Believing that the purpose of poetry was an alternate to realityhe was a strong advocate of art for art's sakeGeorge's products had many similarities with the French Symbolist style and he was in communication with many of its representatives, including Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine.

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning 'rule of the best-born'.

Ethos Greek word for "character"

Ethos is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence emotions, behaviors, and even morals. Early Greek stories of Orpheus exhibit this idea in a compelling way. The word's use in rhetoric is closely based on the Greek terminology used by Aristotle in his concept of the three artistic proofs or modes of persuasion.

Lyric poetry literary genre

Lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. The term derives from a form of Ancient Greek literature, the lyric, which was defined by its musical accompaniment, usually on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The term owes its importance in literary theory to the division developed by Aristotle between three broad categories of poetry: lyrical, dramatic, and epic.

George was an important intermediary between the 19th century and German modernism, even though he was a harsh critic of the then modern era. He experimented with various poetic metres, punctuation, obscure allusions and typography. George's "evident homosexuality" [6] is represented by works such as Algabal and the love poetry he devoted to a gifted adolescent of his acquaintance named Maximilian Kronberger, [7] whom he called "Maximin", and whom he believed to be a manifestation of the divine. The relevance of George's sexuality to his poetic work has been discussed by contemporary critics, such as Thomas Karlauf and Marita Keilson-Lauritz. [8]

Punctuation is the use of spacing, conventional signs and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text whether read silently or aloud. Another description is, "It is the practice action or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts in order to aid interpretation; division of text into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks."

Typography Art and the craft of printing and the arranging of layouts

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing (leading), and letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning). The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols created by the process. Type design is a closely related craft, sometimes considered part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. Typography also may be used as a decorative device, unrelated to communication of information.

Maximilian Kronberger German poet

Maximilian Kronberger, known familiarly as Maximin, was a German poet and a significant figure in the literary circle of Stefan George.

Algabal is one of George's best remembered collections of poetry, if also one of his strangest; the title is a reference to the effete Roman emperor Elagabalus. George was also an important translator; he translated Dante, Shakespeare and Baudelaire into German.

George was awarded the Goethe Prize during 1927. [9]

Das neue Reich

George's last complete book of poetry, Das neue Reich ("The New Realm"), was published in 1928. It was banned in occupied Germany after World War II - the title sounded more than a little tainted with Nazism. But George had dedicated the work, which includes the lyric Geheimes Deutschland ("Secret Germany") written in 1922, to Claus von Stauffenberg, who, in 1944, took a leading role in the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler, and who considered himself to be acting on the teachings of the George Kreis when he did so. [10] The book describes a new form of society ruled by a hierarchical spiritual aristocracy. George rejected all attempts to use it for mundane political purposes, including those of National Socialism.

Influence

George apparently thought of himself as the messiah of a new kingdom that would be governed by intellectual and artistic elites, bonded by their faithfulness to a commander. In his memoirs, Albert Speer claims to have seen George during the early 1920s and that his elder brother, Hermann, was an acquaintance of his: George "radiated dignity and pride and a kind of priestliness... there was something magnetic about him."

His poetry emphasized self-sacrifice, heroism, and power, which won him the approval of the National Socialists. But although many Nazis claimed George as an influence, George himself remained aloof from such associations and did not get involved with politics. Soon after the Nazi seizure of power, George left Germany for Switzerland where he died the same year.

Many of the members of the German Resistance to the Nazis were drawn from among his devotees, notably the Stauffenberg brothers who were introduced to George by the poet and classical scholar Albrecht von Blumenthal. Although some members of the George circle were explicitly anti-semitic (for example, Klages), it also included Jewish authors such as Gundolf, the historian Ernst Kantorowicz, and the Zionist Karl Wolfskehl. George was fond of his Jewish disciples, but he expressed reservations about their ever becoming a majority in the group.

Perhaps the most eminent poet who collaborated with George, but who refused membership in the group, was Hugo von Hofmannsthal, one of Austria's outstanding literary modernists. Later in life, Hofmannsthal wrote that no one had influenced him more than George. Those closest to the "Master," as George had his disciples call him, included several members of the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler, among them Claus von Stauffenberg himself. Stauffenberg frequently quoted George's poem Der Widerchrist (The Anti-Christ) to his fellow members of the 20 July plot. [11]

George's poetry was a major influence on the music of the Second Viennese School of composers, particularly during their Expressionist period. Arnold Schoenberg set George's poetry in such works as "Ich darf nicht dankend", Op. 14/1 (1907), String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10 (1908), and The Book of the Hanging Gardens , Op. 15 (1909), while his student Anton Webern made use of George's verse for his early choral work Entflieht auf leichten Kähnen,, Op. 2, as well as in two sets of songs, Opp. 3 and 4 of 1909, and in several posthumously published vocal works from the same period.

In Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1976 movie Satansbraten the protagonist Walter Kranz attempts to model his life on that of George.

Bibliography

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article (except for Tage und Taten, a prose work):

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References

  1. Boehringer, Robert. Mein Bild von Stefan George. München, Düsseldorf: Helmut Küpper vormals Georg Bondi Verlag, 1967. pp. 126-127
  2. Thomas Karlauf: Stefan George. Die Entdeckung des Charisma. Blessing, München 2007. ISBN   978-3-89667-151-6
  3. Kramarz, Joachim (1967). Stauffenberg: The Architect of the Famous July 20th Conspiracy to Assassinate Hitler. Macmillan. p. 29.
  4. Jeffers, Bill. "Claus von Stauffenberg: Hero or Traitor?" (PDF).
  5. Robert E. Norton, Secret Germany: Stefan George and his Circle (Cornell University Press, 2002)
  6. Robert E. Norton, Secret Germany: Stefan George and his Circle (Cornell University Press, 2002) page 354
  7. Palmer, Craig B. (2002), "George, Stefan", glbtq.com , retrieved 2007-11-23.
  8. See for example, Marita Keilson-Lauritz, "Ubergeschlechtliche Liebe: Stefan George's Concept of Love" (Rieckmann, ed A Companion to the Works of Stefan George (Camden House, 2005)
  9. "Stefan George, 65, German poet, dies". New York Times. 5 December 1933. p. 23.
  10. Herbert Ammon: Vom Geist Georges zur Tat Stauffenbergs - Manfred Riedels Rettung des Reiches, in: Iablis 2007 at www.iablis.de
  11. Joachim Fest, Plotting Hitler's Death: The Story of the German Resistance, Metropolitan Books, 1994. Page 216.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Stefan George, Poems, Trans. & Ed. Carol North Valhope and Ernst Morwitz. (New York: Pantheon, 1946).

Further reading