Frederick Henry Herbert Adler.

Herder and Klopstock : a comparative study online

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^^ It is difficult to understand the whole creative and classical

^ period of German literature without taking- into considera-

^^ tion Klopstock's significant position in its history and the

powerful influence he exerted upon its greatest personalities.

His wonderful originating powers brought forth a new ideal

5 of humanitv, the influence of which has been felt in all

^ ' succeeding periods ; his thoughts, and the language he clothed

them in, may be traced in the works of Germany's greatest


The chief aim of the present work has been to present

"^ in a new light the relation of Klopstock to Herder, one of

■} his great contemporaries, whose genius aided in causing to

^ grow and flourish the seed sown by the poet. The first

Y part resolves itself into an objective treatment of the per-

^ sonal relations of the two men, of Herder's knowledge of

Klopstock's works, and of his critical estimate of them. In

the second part an attempt has been made to show how the

spirit of the new world of ideas, as created by Klopstock,

found sympathetic response in Herder, and how it in turn

received expression in his own life and works. The last

chapter attempts to present the source of Klopstock's new

poetical language ; by means of a comparison with Herder's

language, it aims to give a more detailed presentation of the

intellectual world of the two men.

The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to
Professor JuHus Goebel. of the University of llHnois, whose
inspiration and kindly guidance has made this work possible.
Also to his friend, Mr. J. Allan Nevins, who read most of
the present work in its original draft, and offered many
valuable criticisms regarding style, the writer desires to
express his most hearty thanks.

Then, finally, to his friend. Dr. Irma E. Voigt, for her
friendly assistance, the writer extends his most heartfelt
gratitude and appreciation.

F. H. A.

Cleveland, March. 1914.



Chapter 1. Personal Relations 1

Chapter 2. Herder and the "Messiah" 18
Chapter 3. Herder and Klopstock's Lyrical Poetry 38


Chapter 1. The Conception of the Poet 58

Chapter 2. Religious Views 7Z

Chapter 3. Patriotic Endeavors 101


A Treatment of Klopstock's and Herder's

Poetic Language 148

Conclusion 224

Bibliography 226

Vita 232




The spirit of the eighteenth century, which, by causing
man to reaHze once more his true humanity, transformed
his intellectual, religious, moral, and political life, first mani-
fested itself in England and France ; from these countries
it spread into Germany, where it found its fullest expression
and gave rise to a new German culture. Literature and
criticism were the active forces which probably did most
to create this new spirit ; they sought the real, the natural,
and the beautiful in art and life, as opposed to the imitative,
the unnatural, and the artificial. Philosophy, however,
joined hands with criticism, and the search for the aesthetic
became at the same time a search for nature and for true
humanity. The bearer of this new message was primarily
the poet, the genius as the highest type of man, in whom
all the human faculties were most perfectly developed and
most harmoniously combined.

The influences at work in the eighteenth century were a
protest against the intellectualism of the preceding age. ^
During the seventeenth century man had looked with distrust
upon his emotional nature and had allowed the philosophy


taught by Descartes to determine his world of thought.
Reason ruled supreme and dominated man's whole life.
Customs, fashions, and manners were artificial, cut and
trimmed to satisfy a false code of etiquette and morals;
nature herself suffered at the hands of the architect and
gardener ; religion, except among the Pietists, was a matter
of form and tradition, and not of inner experience; art and
literature were not spontaneous structures of the imagina-
tion, built upon a vivid experience of life, but cold products
of the intellect working by the rules of a restrained imitation.
Man had discovered the narrowness of the bounds which
hedge in the usefulness of unaided reason ; it had proved
itself unproductive of the highest expression of art, of liter-
ature, and of life, and a reaction was inevitable. Human-
ity was bound to assert itself ; man's feelings and imagina-
tion were again to play a part in human affairs. It was
the advent of a new era.

The first poet to give this new^ spirit full expression was
Klopstock. He, indeed, had his forerunners in Brockes,
who was the first to leave his books and return to nature
for inspiration ; in DroUinger and Haller, who went further
than Brockes and made man the object of their poetry;
and above all in his own teacher, Gellert, who attempted to
bring about a reconciliation between man and the universe
by making the heart the source of man's happiness. Klop-
stock, however, passed at a bound far beyond these men ;
his genius was of a distinctly higher order. In him the old
axiom, "'poeta non fit sed nascitur", the real meaning of
which had been forgotten, again proved its vitality and truth.
Here was the great genius, the true poet, for w^hom German
literature had been waiting. His work proved that the
highest art is an unconscious product of life and nature,
and an expression of the full, healthy man himself. As a
genius, Klopstock was at once the creator of a new poetic



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Online LibraryFrederick Henry Herbert AdlerHerder and Klopstock : a comparative study → online text (page 1 of 17)