Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer of Productivity: Day 1

Reading: Lindemann, Prause / Rüter: Umbrüche: Blicke auf Landschaft in Literatur und Kunst: 1800, 1900.

In the Enlightenment, the landscape plays a dual role in literature: On the one hand, its grandeur makes the viewer aware of her weakness and mortality in the face of God's creation. On the other hand, there is a great deal of emphasis on the usefulness of nature (as regards farming, etc. - in a different time, one might suggest the use of nature to generate solar, hydroelectric, or wind power as well) as well as a compulsion to describe the landscape/nature as accurately as possible. These things lead to a quite literal experience of the landscape. The near removal of symbolic elements from the Enlightenment thinker's perspective makes the creation of imaginary landscapes and the psychological/symbolic understanding of nature improbable. Nature was less a subject of art, but instead an object upon which science was practice. Another symptom of the literal, non-symbolic approach of the Enlightenment thinker to the landscape was the rise of precise travel literature where before - and indeed after - there was a more poetic approach to the landscape. See Haller "Die Alpen."

Also, land only becomes landscape when it is aesthetically present - when it is appreciated aesthetically without regard to its concrete usefulness or potential threats. Otherwise, it is a set of challenges or resources. This underlines the whole idea of the Claude-glass. To fully appreciate a landscape, you have to put a frame around it. See Ritter, "Landschaft - zur Funktion des Ästhetischen in der modernen Gesellschaft" in Subjektivität - sechs Aufsätze.

Also see: Brockes: Das Irdische Vergnügen in Gott, "Die durch Veränderung von Licht und Schatten sich vielfach verändernden Landschaften."
Landscape in a didactic/moralistic context. (Poetry) Use of poetic forms to mirror the natural phenomena he is dealing with. Constantly changing perspective is employed in the effort to give as complete and accurate an image of his subject as possible. He only introduces an “ich” and a “du” when introducing the moral, as it were, in the last two lines of the poem. “Die Landschaft wird in hundert Einzelaspekte atomisiert und damit vom sprechenden Dichter auch isoliert und trotz der vielen Worte schließlich distanziert.” (p. 18) Although he tries to give accurate, objective descriptions of nature, he uses many positively-inflected adjectives to describe it – throwback to the Brock? Relates to visual art in that the descriptions of the landscape are exclusively visual descriptions. Not at all a complete impression.

Friedrich Nicolai: Beschreibung einer Reise durch Deutschland und die Schweiz im Jahre 1781. This is a very precise, complete Reisebericht full of descriptions of the landscape, remarks on the contrast between Nature and cultivated land, and highly educated etymological, historical, and cultural footnotes. Interesting is his perspective as a “Stadtmensch” who prefers civilization to “Wildnis” and qualifies his descriptions thusly.

Rokoko writing: These writers rebel against the Pietistic writing of people like Brockes (early Enlightenment – moralizing) and remove religion entirely from their descriptions of nature. Saw itself as a Secularization of Pietism, while taking elements directly from pietistic poetry (i.e. Klopstock). They set nature in motion. Idyllen of Salomon Geßner (Schweiz). (Slushy, slimy, syrupy dreck.) Schäferwelt des Rokoko. “Der Kontrast zwischen der durchaus liebevoll geschilderten Natur und LAndschaft auf der einen und der mit dem Lieblingsmöbel des Rokoko, dem “Spiegel,” naturvergessen beschäftigten “schönen Belinde” sowie dem die Natur “verächtlich” und “neben … hin” durchstreifenden Gecken in Gestalt des “jungen Hyacinthus.” (barf - p. 26) Still an Enlightenment style when the harmony between beauty and utility is celebrated or some moral is drawn out of the industriousness of the bees, for example.

Most important contrast between Geßner and Brockes: Geßner focuses on a small, focused part of nature, while Brockes deals with the grandiose whole of nature. Is this also true of the movements?

Empfindsamkeit: Friedrich von Mattisson (eg. Abendlandschaft: “Goldner schein / deckt den Hain...”– celebrated by Schiller as a great landscape poet. This kind of poetry has Klopstock as its source.

Sturm und Drang: eg. Goethe – Werther (Brief vom 10. Mai und 18. August). Sympathy/empathy/identification with nature. Also, Wilhelm Heinse – Brief an Fritz Jacobi:

Transformative, epiphanal experience of nature.

Klassik: Goethe – after his Sturm und Drang period distances himself from dwelling on the apparent conflict between cultivated and “wild” nature. Movement toward Klassik: Italienische Reise – he sees a unity of classical architecture and landscape. This unity of cultivation and nature is exemplified by the idea of a nursery – eine Baumschule – see also die Wahlverwandschaften. Klassik idealizes nature. See also Schiller’s “Spaziergang,” which also shows an idealized, unspecific, unlocatable landscape. Also Schiller’s “Sehnsucht” (1801). See also Hölderlin’s works from this time – idealized landscapes, but also classical forms – particularly elegies. Aesthetically pleasing synthesis of antique and modern.

Jean Paul: Titan – here the landscape functions as a backdrop for the narrators own feelings to be projected. But what’s the deal with him? He’s dropped into this timeline without an epoch, without any context or connection to the other authors. Does he defy categorization? Learn more about him.

Romantik: Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder – letter to his parents in 1793, describing a trip taken with Tieck: “Leider werde ich immer mehr überzeugt, daß es unmöglich ist, durch Worte in einem anderen die getreue Darstellung diner Gegend mitzuteilen, wie man sie beim eigenen Anblick ,und zum teil auch noch nachher hat. Wenn ich auch genau aufzähle, so kann ich doch nie die Idee von der individuellen Gegend lebhaft erwecken, die ich dem andern vor die Augen bringen will.” (p. 49) – this is reminiscent of the Sturm & Drang notion of the inexpressibility of nature/natural beauty, especially as exhibited in Werther. However, here, the inexpressibility comes from the power of the landscape and not from the inadequacy of the artist attempting to render it. Also, and extremely importantly, there is here an emphasis on subjective experience. Werther despaired of being able to record the beauty and power of the landscape in and of itself. Here, Wackenroder acknowledges that at least part of the difficulty of recording it comes from the complex personal relationship of the narrator to the landscape the narrator is trying to describe. One’s own experience of the landscape cannot be transmitted to someone else without losing part of its value, if not its content.

This letter is also significant for its mention of “romantische Aussichten” and its description of what comes to be our stereotypical understanding of a romantic landscape, complete with forests, mountains, cliffs, and ruins. Erhabensublime – is also an important word that pops up here. He also makes an implicit jab at the more “enlightened” narrators of landscape measuring and scientifically describing things, saying that it’s pointless, more or less, because in doing so, you still fail to actually capture the feeling of a landscape.

Tieck- Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen & Der Runenberg. In the Kunstmärchen, interesting description of a landscape with ultimate prospect. One can see everything. There are no secrets, no hidden corners, no barriers to view between the viewer and the horizon. All a very typically pleasing description with fields and gardens all lovely and clean, but, the narrator says, verhasst and hopeless. This is described by the protagonist, Christian, to a stranger, while in the mountains. The description of these plains seems very out of place in the mountains… strange. READ this. Also, Tieck: System des transzendentalen Idealismus (1800).

Eichendorff: Ahnung und Gegenwart (1815): emphasis on the importance of the forest. See also poem “Abschied”. Also Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts – good comparison – compare description of Rome to that of Jean Paul and Goethe! Read lots of Eichendorff – also article by Richard Alewyn on Eichendorff.

Library hitlist:
Brockes: requested from Depository
Haller: Widener 47536.26.2
Ritter: BD450 .R54
Nicolai: full-text first edition online:
Print: requested from Depository
Tieck: PT2540 .L83x 1987
Alewyn article: Euphorion 1957, 51.

1 comment:

Monkey said...

But it's not really 'realistic' portrayal of travel and geography, is it? I don't know (you're too smart now for me to follow things) but:

Surely some of Goethe's landscape things, for example, cover physical areas that other writers do; but the other writers can present the same realistic attitude but give a different sense of the landscape interacting with their perception/portrayal of it.

Ahhh. No, not ahhhhh.

I guess it's the same old thing of 'Realism' (Stendhal or someone) actually being less realistic than 'Modernism' (Woolf or Joyce) because people don't really experience things. linearly/physically.

I'm confused.