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Novalis (Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg)
Novalis (1799), portrait by Franz Gareis
Born May 2, 1772
Oberwiederstedt, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Died March 25, 1801
Weißenfels, Germany
Occupation Prose writer, poet, mystic, philosopher, civil engineer

Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (May 2, 1772 - March 25, 1801), an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism. Novalis were a 1970s Krautrock group formed in Germany. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... May 2 is the 122nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (123rd in leap years). ... Year 1772 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... With an area of 20,447 km² and a population of 2. ... March 25 is the 84th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (85th in leap years). ... The Union Jack, flag of the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ... Weißenfels is a place in the district Weißenfels, Germany. ... A pseudonym (Greek pseudo + -onym: false name) is an artificial, fictitious name, also known as an alias, used by an individual as an alternative to a persons true name. ... May 2 is the 122nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (123rd in leap years). ... Year 1772 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... March 25 is the 84th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (85th in leap years). ... The Union Jack, flag of the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ... For the general context, see Romanticism. ...



Friedrich von Hardenberg was born in 1772 in the Oberwiederstedt manor located in the Harz mountains (current Saxony-Anhalt). The family seat was a manorial estate, not just a stately home. Novalis descended from ancient, Low German nobility. In different lines of the family, many important, influential magistrates and ministry officials can be found, for example the Prussian chancellor Karl August von Hardenberg (1750-1822). In addition to an oil painting, a christening cap, commonly assigned to Novalis, is his only belonging that remains. In the church in Wiederstedt he was christened Georg Philipp Friedrich. He spent his childhood on the family estate and used it as the starting point for his travels into the Harz mountains. The Harz is a mountain range in northern Germany. ... With an area of 20,447 km² and a population of 2. ... Motto: Suum cuique Latin: To each his own Prussia at its peak, as leading state of the German Empire Capital Königsberg, later Berlin Political structure Duchy, Kingdom, Republic Duke1  - 1525–68 Albert I  - 1688–1701 Frederick III King1  - 1701–13 Frederick I  - 1888–1918 William II Prime Minister1,2... Karl August von Hardenberg Karl August Fürst von Hardenberg (en: Prince Charles Augustus von Hardenberg) (May 31, 1750 - November 26, 1822), was a Prussian statesman. ...

Novalis’ father, the estate owner and salt mines manager Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus Freiherr von Hardenberg (1738-1814), was a strictly pietistic man who had become a member of the Moravian (Herrnhuter) sect. His second marriage was to Auguste Bernhardine von Hardenberg, née Bölzig (1749-1818), who gave birth to eleven children. Their second child was Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg; he later on named himself Novalis. Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late-17th century to the mid-18th century. ... The Moravian Seal, as rendered by North Carolina artist Marie Nifong The Moravian churches form a modern, mainline Protestant denomination with a religious heritage that began in 15th-century Bohemia, Czech Republic. ...

At first Novalis was taught by private tutors. He attended the Luther grammar school in Eisleben, where he acquired skills in rhetoric and ancient literature, which were common parts of the education of this time. From his twelfth year on, he was in the charge of his uncle Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Hardenberg at his stately home in Lucklum. Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk,[1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. ... Eisleben is a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. ... Rhetoric (from Greek , rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of spoken and written language; however, this definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. ...

Novalis studied law from 1790 to 1794 at Jena, Leipzig, and Wittenberg. He passed his exams with distinction. During his studies he attended Schiller’s lecture courses on history and befriended Schiller during Schiller’s illness. Furthermore he met Goethe, Herder, and Jean Paul, and he became friends with Ludwig Tieck, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and the brothers Friedrich und August Wilhelm Schlegel. This article is about the German town of Jena. ... Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (November 10, 1759 - May 9, 1805), usually known as Friedrich Schiller, was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and dramatist. ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced [gø tə]) (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was a German writer, politician, humanist, scientist, and philosopher. ... A herder is a worker who lives a semi-nomadic life, caring for various domestic animals, especially in places where these animals wander unfenced pasture lands. ... Jean Paul Jean Paul (March 21, 1763 – November 14, 1825), born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, was a famous German humorist. ... Ludwig Tieck Johann Ludwig Tieck (May 31, 1773 – April 28, 1853) was a German poet, translator, editor, novelist, and critic, who was part of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (January 27, 1775 - August 20, 1854) was a German philosopher. ... Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (March 10, 1772 - January 11, 1829), German poet, critic and scholar, was the younger brother of August Wilhelm von Schlegel. ... August Wilhelm von Schlegel (September 8, 1767 - May 12, 1845), German poet, translator and critic, was born at Hanover, where his father, Johann Adolf Schlegel (1721_1793), was a Lutheran pastor. ...

In October 1794 Novalis worked as actuary for August Coelestin Just, who was not only his boss, but also his friend and later on his biographer. During this time Novalis met the young Sophie von Kühn (1783-1797). On the 15th March 1795 he became engaged to her. In the following January, Novalis was appointed auditor to the salt works company in Weißenfels. Christiane Wilhelmine Sophie von Kühn (March 17, 1782 – March 19, 1797) was the love interest and eventual fiancée of the German Romantic poet and philosopher Friedrich von Hardenberg, known to many simply as Novalis (May 2, 1772 – March 25, 1801). ...

In the period 1795-1796 Novalis concerned himself with the scientific doctrine of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, which had a great influence on his world view. He not only read Fichte’s philosophies, but also developed the concepts further. He transformed Fichte’s Nicht-Ich (German "not I") to a Du ("you"), an equal subject to the Ich ("I"). This was the starting point for his Liebesreligion ("religion of love"). Johann Gottlieb Fichte (May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814) was a German philosopher. ...

The early and cruel death of his fiancée in March 1797 had a deep impact on him.

That year he entered the Mining Academy of Freiberg in Saxony, a leading academy for Science at this time, to study geology under Professor Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817), who befriended him. During his studies in Freiberg he immersed himself in a wide range of studies, including: mining, mathematics, chemistry, biology, history and not least philosophy. It was here that he collected materials for his famous encyclopaedia project. The Freiberg University of Mining and Technology (German: Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, short TUBAF) is a small German university with about 4000 students in the city of Freiberg, Saxony. ...

Novalis' first fragments were published in 1798 in the Athenäum, a magazine edited by the brothers Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, who were also part of the early Romanticism. The title of Novalis’ first publication was Blüthenstaub (Pollen); this is also the first appearance of his pseudonym "Novalis". In July 1799 he became acquainted with Ludwig Tieck, and later on that autumn he met other authors of so-called "Jena Romanticism". The Athenaeum was a literary journal started in 1798 by August Wilhelm and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel. ...

Novalis became engaged for the second time, in December 1798. His fiancée was Julie von Charpentier (1788-1811), a daughter of Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Toussaint von Charpentier, a professor in Freiberg.

From Pentecost 1799 Novalis worked again in the management of the salt mines. That December he became an assessor of the salt mines and a director. On the 6th December 1800, the 28-year-old Hardenberg was appointed "Supernumerar-Amtshauptmann" for the District of Thuringia, a position which can be compared to a magistrate of today. But from August on, Hardenberg was suffering from tuberculosis, and on the 25th March 1801 he died in Weißenfels. After his death he was buried in the old cemetery there.

Novalis only lived long enough to see the publication of Pollen, Faith and Love or the King and the Queen, and Hymns to the Night. His unfinished novels Heinrich von Ofterdingen and The Novices at Sais, his political speech Christendom or Europa and numerous other notes and fragments, were published posthumously by his friends Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Schlegel.


Novalis, who had great knowledge in science, law, philosophy, politics and political economy, started writing quite early. He left an astonishing abundance of notes on these fields of knowledge and his early work shows that he was very educated and well read. His later works are closely connected to his studies and his profession. Novalis collected everything that he had learned, reflected upon it and drew connections in the sense of an encyclopaedic overview on art, religion and science. These notes from the years 1798 and 1799 are called Das allgemeine Brouillon, and are now available in English under the title Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia.

Together with Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis developed the fragment as a literary form of art. The core of Hardenberg’s literary works is the quest for the connection of science and poetry, and the result was supposed to be a "progressive universal utopia”. Novalis was convinced that philosophy and the higher-ranking poetry have to be continually related to each other.

The fact that the romantic fragment is an appropriate form for a depiction of the "progressive universal utopia”, can be seen especially from the success of this new genre in its later reception.

Novalis’ whole works are based upon an idea of education: "We are on a mission: we are called upon to educate the earth." It has to be made clear that everything is in a continual process. It is the same with humans, who always try to approach an earlier, hypothetically assumed, condition, which is characterised by a harmony between the human and nature.

This idea of a romantic universal utopia can be seen clearly in the romantic triad. This theoretical structure always shows the recipient that the described moment is exactly the moment (kairos) in which the future is decided. These frequently mentioned critical points correspond with the artist’s feeling for the present, which Novalis shares with many other contemporaries of his time. Thus a triadic structure can be found in most of his works. This means that there are three corresponding structural elements which are written different concerning the content and the form.

Hardenberg’s intensive study of the works of Jakob Böhme, since 1800, has had a clear influence on his own writing. Idealized portrait of Böhmes from Theosophia Revelata (1730) Jakob Böhme (1575–1624) was a Christian mystic born in eastern Germany, near Görlitz. ...

A mystical world view, a high standard of education, and the frequently perceptible pietistic influences are combined in Novalis' attempt to reach a new concept of Christianity, faith, and God. He forever endeavours to align these with his own view of transcendental philosophy, which acquired the mysterious name "Magical idealism". This view can even be discerned in more religious works such as the Spiritual Songs (published 1802), which soon became incorporated into Lutheran hymn-books. Magical Idealism is the term Novalis occasionally employed to describe his own philosophical system. ...

Novalis influenced, amongst others, the theologian George MacDonald, who translated his Hymns to the Night in 1897. More recently, Novalis, as well as the Early Romantic (Frühromantik) movement as a whole, has been recognized as constituting a separate philosophical school, as opposed to simply a literary movement. This has owed heavily to the work of philosopher Frederick Beiser. George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 – September 18, 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. ... Frederick C. Beiser (b. ...


In August 1800, eight months after completion, the revised edition of the Hymnen an die Nacht was published in the Athenaeum. They are often considered to be the climax of Novalis’ lyrical works and the most important poetry of the German early Romanticism.

The six hymns contain many elements which can be understood as autobiographical. Even though a lyrical "I", rather than Novalis himself, is the speaker, there are many relationships between the hymns and Hardenberg’s experiences from 1797-1800.

The topic is the romantic interpretation of life and death, the threshold of which is symbolised by the night. Life and death are – according to Novalis – developed into entwined concepts. So in the end, death is the romantic principle of life.

Influences from the literature of that time can be seen. The metaphors of the hymns are closely connected to the books Novalis had read at about the time of his writing of the hymns. These are prominently Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (in the translation by A.W.Schlegel, 1797) and Jean Paul’s Unsichtbare Loge (1793). Shakespeare redirects here. ... Romeo and Juliet in the famous balcony scene by Ford Madox Brown For other uses, see Romeo and Juliet (disambiguation). ... Jean Paul Jean Paul (March 21, 1763 – November 14, 1825), born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, was a famous German humorist. ...

The Hymns to the Night display a universal religion with an intermediary. This concept is based on the idea that there is always a third party between a human and God. This intermediary can either be Jesus – as in Christian lore – or the dead beloved as in the hymns. These works consist of three times two hymns. These three components are each structured in this way: the first hymn shows, with the help of the Romantic triad, the development from an assumed happy life on earth through a painful era of alienation to salvation in the eternal night; the following hymn tells of the awakening from this vision and the longing for a return to it. With each pair of hymns, a higher level of experience and knowledge is shown.


The novel fragments Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Die Lehrlinge zu Sais (The Novices of Sais) reflect the idea of describing a universal world harmony with the help of poetry. The novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen contains the "blue flower", a symbol that became an emblem for the whole of German Romanticism. Originally the novel was supposed to be an answer to Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, a work that Novalis had read with enthusiasm but later on judged as being highly unpoetical. He disliked the victory of the economical over the poetic. A Cornflower could be seen as a model for the motif The Blaue Blume (German: Blaue Blume) is a central symbol of Romanticism. ...

The speech called Die Christenheit oder Europa was written in 1799, but was first published in 1826. It is a poetical, cultural-historical speech with a focus on a political utopia with regard to the Middle Ages. In this text Novalis tries to develop a new Europe which is based on a new poetical Christendom which shall lead to unity and freedom. He got the inspiration for this text from Schleiermacher’s Über die Religion (1799). The work was also a response to the French Enlightenment and Revolution, both of which which Novails saw as catastrophic and irreligious. It anticipated, then, the growing German and Romantic theme of anti-Enlightenment visions of European spirituality and order.


Walter Pater includes Novalis's quote, "Philosophirn ist delphlegmatisiren, vivificiren" (to philosophize is to throw off apathy, to become revived)1 in his conclusion to Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Novalis' poetry and writings were also an influence on Herman Hesse; Hesse initially published his novel Demian under the name Emil Sinclair, who was a friend of Novalis. Walter Horatio Pater (August 4, 1839 - July 30, 1894) was an English essayist and literary critic. ... Hermann Hesse Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962) was a German author, and the winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize in literature. ... Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclairs Youth is a Bildungsroman by Hermann Hesse, first published in 1919, but a prologue was added in 1960. ...

Novalis was also a huge influence on George MacDonald, and so indirectly on C.S. Lewis, the Inklings, and the whole modern fantasy genre. George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 – September 18, 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. ... Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an author and scholar. ... The Eagle and Child pub (commonly known as the Bird and Baby) in Oxford where the Inklings met on Thursday nights in 1939. ...

1 Barbara Laman, James Joyce and German Theory: "The Romantic School and All That", (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004), 37.

Novalis in print

Novalis' works were originally issued in two volumes by his friends Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Schlegel (2 vols. 1802; a third volume was added in 1846). Ludwig Tieck Johann Ludwig Tieck (May 31, 1773 – April 28, 1853) was a German poet, translator, editor, novelist, and critic, who was part of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. ...

Editions of Novalis' collected works have since been compiled by C. Meisner and Bruno Wille (1898), by E. Heilborn (3 vols., 1901), and by J. Minor (3 vols., 1907). Heinrich von Ofterdingen was published separately by J. Schmidt in 1876. German politician. ...

Novalis's Correspondence was edited by J. M. Raich in 1880. See R. Haym Die romantische Schule (Berlin, 1870); A. Schubart, Novalis' Leben, Dichten und Denken (1887); C. Busse, Novalis' Lyrik (1898); J. Bing, Friedrich von Hardenberg (Hamburg, 1899), E. Heilborn, Friedrich von Hardenberg (Berlin, 1901). Johann Michael Raich (Ottobeuren in Bavaria, 17 January 1832- Mainz, 28 March 1907) was a Catholic theologian. ... Rudolf Haym (5 October 1821 - 27 August 1901) was a German philosopher. ...

Novalis in English

Several of Novalis' philosophical works have been recently translated into English.

  • Novalis: Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia (Das Allgemeine Brouillon), trans. and ed. David W. Wood, State University of New York Press, 2007. First English translation of Novalis's unfinished project for a universal science.
  • The Birth of Novalis: Friedrich von Hardenberg's Journal of 1797, With Selected Letters and Documents, trans. and ed. Bruce Donehower, State University of New York Press, 2007.
  • Novalis: Philosophical Writings, trans. and ed. Margaret Mahoney Stoljar, State University of New York Press, 1997. This volume contains several of Novalis' works, including Pollen or Miscellaneous Observations, one of the few complete works published in his lifetime (though it was altered for publication by Friedrich Schlegel); Logological Fragments I and II; Monologue, a long fragment on language; Faith and Love or The King and Queen, a collection of political fragments also published during his lifetime; On Goethe; extracts from Das allgemeine Broullion or General Draft; and his essay Christendom or Europe. '
  • Fichte Studies, trans. Jane Kneller, Cambridge University Press: 2003. This translation is part of the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy Series.
  • Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics, ed. Jay Bernstein, Cambridge University Press, 2003. This book is in the same series, the Fichte-Studies and contains a very good selection of fragments, plus it includes Novalis' Dialogues. Also in this collection are fragments by Schlegel and Hölderlin.
  • Henry von Ofterdingen, trans. Palmer Hilty, Waveland Press: 1990.
  • The Novices of Sais, trans. by Ralph Manheim, Archipelago Books: 2005. This translation was originally published in 1949. This edition includes illustrations by Paul Klee. The Novices of Sais contains the fairy tale "Hyacinth and Rose Petal."
  • Hymns to the Night, trans. by Dick Higgins, McPherson & Company: 1988. This modern translation includes the German text (with variants) en face.

The headquarters of the Cambridge University Press, in Trumpington Street, Cambridge. ... Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (March 10, 1772 - January 11, 1829), German poet, critic and scholar, was the younger brother of August Wilhelm von Schlegel. ... Friedrich Hölderlin Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (March 20, 1770 – June 6, 1843) was a major German lyric poet. ... Ralph Manheim (1907 - 26 September 1992) was a translator of German and French literature. ... Paul Klee (IPA: kleː) (December 18, 1879 to June 29, 1940) was a Swiss painter of German nationality. ...

External links

  • Novalis: Hymns to The Night - a translation of the work by George MacDonald
  • Novalis Online - including a few English translations and essays on and by Novalis
  • Oberwiederstedt Manor, birthplace of Novalis - formerly the International Novalis Society. The rest of the site is in German, but more pages are due to be translated soon
  • Aquarium: Friedrich von Hardenberg im Internet - another German site

Secondary literature

  • The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Behler, Ernst. German Romantic Literary Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Beiser, Frederick. German Idealism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002
  • Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Blue Flower. Mariner Books, 1997. A novelization of Novalis' early life.
  • Krell, David Farrell. Contagion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
  • Kuzniar, Alice. Delayed Endings. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1987
  • Lacoue-Labarthe, Phillipe and Jean-Luc Nancy. The Literary Absolute. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. (Note: This book does not discuss Novalis exclusively, but discusses the Early Romantic movement as a whole.)
  • Molnár, Geza von. Novalis' "Fichte Studies"
  • O’Brien, Wm. Arctander, Novalis: Signs of Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.


"The others experienced nothing like it, even though they heard the same tales." (Henrich von Ofterdingen)

"Philosophy is really homesickness - the desire to be everywhere at home."(Romantic Encyclopaedia, no. 857)

"My book shall be a scientific Bible - a real, and ideal model - and the seed of every book." (Romantic Encyclopaedia, no. 557)

"Nature is a magical petrified city." (HKA II, p. 761)

"Every person who consists of people, is a person raised to the 2nd power - or a genius." (Vorarbeiten, HKA II, p. 645)

"Love is the final goal of world history - the One of the universe." (Romantic Encyclopaedia, no. 50)

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  Results from FactBites:
Novalis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2116 words)
Novalis’ father, the estate owner and saline manager Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus Freiherr von Hardenberg (1738-1814), was a strictly pietistic man. Due to his experiences in the past, he had become a member of the Morovian (Herrnhuter) sect.
Novalis attended the Luther grammar school in Eisleben, where he acquired skills in rhetoric and ancient literature, which were common parts of the education of this time.
Novalis studied law from 1790 to 1794 at Jena (where he was attended by his former private teacher Christian Daniel Erhard Schmid), Leipzig, and Wittenberg.
  More results at FactBites »



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