We Are Like Fire: Waiblinger & Hesse on HOlderlin
|About the Book|
The great German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin (1770-1843) won the love and care of his younger contemporary, the rebellious writer Wilhelm Waiblinger (1804-1830). This love found durable expression in Waiblingers passionate novel Phaethon, translatedMoreThe great German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin (1770-1843) won the love and care of his younger contemporary, the rebellious writer Wilhelm Waiblinger (1804-1830). This love found durable expression in Waiblingers passionate novel Phaethon, translated in the present volume. It is based, in part, on Hoelderlins own Hyperion, in which the protagonist claims that We are like fire, an assertion substantiated in Waiblinger s work. In Phaethon, the flames of the sun, youth, eros, art and the ideal of liberty incandescently burn. This story, whose eponymous hero recollects Hoelderlin as Waiblinger knew and imagined him, preserves among its pages several of Hoelderlins most famous verse fragments. Phaethon appeared in 1823, when Hoelderlin was considered mad. Waiblinger scrupulously contests this verdict in his circumstantial essay Friedrich Hoelderlins Life, Poetry and Madness. Published in 1831, after Waiblingers death, this essay is also included in the present volume. Waiblinger himself attracted the astringent affection of a later German writer, Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), whose In Pressels Gardenhouse (1914) depicts the conduct of Hoelderlin, Waiblinger and the poet Eduard Moerike (1804-1875) among the vineyards above Tuebingen. This story celebrates and indicts Waiblinger for his kindness and his impatience, in vivid relation to the figure of Hoelderlin. Hesses story constitutes an act of literary criticism- he consents to step from behind the storytellers mask in his essay, On Hoelderlin (1924). These documents, rendered elegantly by Eric Miller, form a picture of greatness and of the reciprocity sometimes possible between the young and the estranged of an older generation.