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Henry von Ofterdingen

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169 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1802

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About the author


301 books331 followers
Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism.

His poetry and writings were an influence on Hermann Hesse. Novalis was also a huge influence on George MacDonald, and so indirectly on C.S. Lewis, the Inklings, and the whole modern fantasy genre.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,565 reviews1,890 followers
December 10, 2018
This is the first time that I have finished this book, though I have started it many times, if that is a good sign or a bad one I would say, simply as a traveller I have frequently got lost in the opening lines, Novalis was a bit of a Platonist, there is for him the world which we see, and then the deeper, inner world, the hero of this book journeys towards himself, an impossible destination, the longing and urgings in the text tempt the mind to day dreams, did I read the book or dream it, I'm not sure, even rereading is rather like a reoccurring dream.

In this edition there is a bibliography. I like bibliographies, for me, glancing through a bibliography is like being at the departure board of a railway station - not a country station with one or at the most two platforms but a major hub with trains going off to famous cities, maybe even to the capitals of other countries, the distant places that you've heard of suggest adventures that you yourself might have but for the ticket already in your hand and a certain appointment that can't be missed. A book is an adventure a journey in thought and feeling, and a bibliography a menu promising strange new feasts.

Novalis died, like all good Romantics, of TB, and so this book remains unfinished. Possibly the best possible ending, it is hard to imagine the promise of possibilities, the endless suggestiveness so as I stood reading about migrating birds, the influence of the clouds upon our moods, how the landscape shapes the character of the people who live there (and inevitably the people the character of the landscape in which they live) how spring is an act of love, the world as a whole I felt to be alive, not throbbing, but beating at one with my own cardiac muscle. The afterword suggests that among others Richard Wagner, old Father Freud and Thomas Mann were all influenced by Novalis, which is hardly surprising ,the book is like a poppy or a dandelion, a great mass of seeds awaiting the softest breathe of wind to burst forth into the fertile soil of any imagination.

At one moment I thought the inner world was tending towards a greasy idealisation of the medieval church, but it seems to go further than that, the hills seems alive, not with singing nuns, but with life, we're in pre-religion, nature a continuum that includes everything, gardening the purest form of philosophical contemplation, ultimately the hero will pluck the blue flower and be transformed into a ringing tree, then into a golden Ram, but the hero writing this story never got quite that far due to coughin', coffin.

At first I didn't realise this, due to being not sharp, but the story is set in the middle ages, reading, it felt fairly timeless, as dreams often are, the title character and hero a poet famous from the Sängerkrieg legend held in the Wartburg castle, above Eisenach in central Germany. In the story he lies in bed his mind turning over a story he was told by a traveller, eventually in wanders into a dream and taken to a high place sees the blue flower, at breakfast his story prompts his father to tell the story of a significant dream he had as a young man. After that he departs with his mother on a journey to Augsburg where his maternal Grandfather lives, on the way various people tell various stories. At the beginning of the second part after another dreamy introduction the hero has a long conversation with a friendly hermit, at which point the book ends, Novalis planned six or so volumes including visiting Italy, Jerusalem and so on, the whole set in the time of his Imperial majesty Frederick II, our Emperor eternal, sleeping in the Kyffhäuser , unless of course it is not him sleeping there but his Grandfather Frederick I, or Frederick III the legend allows for all three and more variants. .

The stories and songs that the young hero hears at once suggest before education - the leading forth of the intelligence, preparation for adulthood and also a presentiment of death but then all journeys end in death, or Ithaca, or Ithaca is death, or being clobbered by axe and sword when you are in the bath washing off the dust of the journey , never worry if you're so murdered for your son Orestes will avenge -oh you have no son, or if you did, his name would not be Orestes, well that's your bad luck, best not sacrifice your daughter then - too late, and even if the god did carry her off to Taurus, that won't save you any.

In other words reading this book is rather like when troubled by storms and soulful woe going to the temple, curling up on the floor and dreaming, in the morning you try to explain the dream you had to the priest, but the priest can only advise that you visit the Oracle at Delphi. After a long walk, past olive groves and views of the sparkling sea you reach Delphi where you must wait (the oracle does not practise everyday) when you tell her your story, in holy trance she tells you something completely gnomic, perhaps you go home or perhaps you invent Pythagoras' theorem. Except this of course you can re-dream as often as you want.

The beginning of this story features in Penelope Fitzgerald's novel The Blue Flower, the title coming from the central motif in this story. The novel treats of the mid period of Novalis's life, and it evokes something of the landscape and atmosphere of this novel rather like a tea bag dipped in a glass of boiling water.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,100 reviews723 followers
March 17, 2023
A very strange book that evokes a dream like state...a time when you wake up and have slept so long you are not sure if it is dawn or dusk; suspended between the two you try to find your way - only to find that you are being pulled deeper and deeper into a world where your frames of reference are no longer reliable.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
July 5, 2013
I decided to read this because I will be reading The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald. That book has been with me for more than 3 years now. I purchased it brand new but its pages are now yellowed and brittle.

This book was first published in 1802 in Berlin. The writer, Novalis is a German poet and that explains the fluid verse-like prose that one can't help but enjoy while reading this work. Then the story is about a young man Henry von Ofterdingen who is in search of the blue flower of his maiden-love who in his dream is named Matilda.. He sings love songs (and I don't know them but they are lovely to read) while traveling and just like The Little Prince meets different kinds of people along the way. Each of these encounters introduces Henry to us as a character: a lover, a son, a lover of prose, a singer, a hermit, a child of God. There are heavy obvious references to the Bible and to God that don't come as a surprise considering that Europe is basically a Christian continent.

This short novel is said to be the earliest representative of German Romanticism. Its impact on the history of German literature and, in the long term, of European literature was, however remarkable. Novales originally thought of his novel as an answer to Goethe's Wilhelm Meister (3 stars), a work that he initially read with enthusiasm but later judged as highly unpoetical; he disliked the victory of the economical over the poetic that Goethe's work, in Novali's opinion, so conspicuously celebrates. Unlike Goethe's test, Novaleis simple narrative, interspersed with lyrical tales and exquisitely chiseled songs, ingeniously presents in literary form they mysticism of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, which was to influence Romantic thought considerably and with which he expressed the idea of describing a universal harmony with the help of poetry. The symbol of blue flower, which is central in Henry's quest, later became an emblem for the whole of German Romanticism, a symbol of longing and the search of the unattainable.

Now I am ready for Penelope Fitzgerald before her book disintegrates in oldness.
Profile Image for Sandra.
923 reviews264 followers
January 6, 2023
Sì, lo so, è il capolavoro del Romanticismo tedesco; sì, lo so, è l’espressione massima della concezione del mondo di Novalis definita “idealismo magico”, per cui la forza della poesia ricolma ogni ambito della vita umana, donando all’esistente (uomini, animali, piante, pietre) un aspetto spirituale che conferisce al mondo le vesti di una mitica età dell’oro; sì, lo so, l’opera di Novalis costituisce una novità assoluta nel panorama letterario della sua epoca, costituendo una sorta di viaggio prima di tutto interiore, ma che si svolge con la forma del viaggio esteriore, dal nord al sud della Germania, del giovane Enrico, il quale farà una serie di incontri sempre reali e spirituali al contempo, con mercanti, guerrieri, minatori, giovani fanciulle orientali, eremiti, per giungere al “compimento”, al “fiore azzurro” sempre ricercato e sognato proprio perché irraggiungibile, mitico come l’età dell’oro in cui magia, sogno e realtà, spirito e materia si fondono in una sintesi mai statica; sì, lo so, l’Ofterdingen contiene preziose gemme che incantano il lettore, come la fiaba di Atlantide, dolce storia d’amore, o la fiaba del poeta Klingsohr, raccontata in un lungo capitolo con il quale si chiude la prima parte dell’opera -peraltro incompiuta- che invece è talmente complessa, ricolma di significati simbolici sottesi (la maggior parte dei quali sono rimasti incomprensibili per me); so tutto, ma la riflessione finale che mi viene da fare, tenuto conto che non sono una germanista né una studiosa del romanticismo, che le vicende, tutte spirituali e metaforiche, sono poco coinvolgenti, che la sensibilità romantica è lontana da me anni luce, è …. che noia!
Profile Image for Alberony Martínez.
482 reviews33 followers
August 16, 2021
“Matilde —dijo Enrique, después de un largo beso—, me parece un sueño que seas mía; pero lo que todavía me parece más extraordinario es que no lo hayas sido siempre.”

“Sí, donde tú estés, Matilde, estaré yo eternamente.”

“No comprendo lo que pueda ser la eternidad, pero diría que la eternidad debe de ser lo que siento cuando pienso en ti.”

Enrique de Ofterdinge ha sido considerada la obra más representativa del primer romanticismo alemán, aunque en su haber critico es considerada una novela educativa o de desarrollo, ya que presenta el desarrollo espiritual del personaje principal desde principio hasta la finalización del mismo. Una novela con una ligera y profunda fusión de novela, cuentos de hadas y poemas. Una novela que se da como un proceso educativo tanto en un mundo poético como en un mundo onírico. Si el romanticismo ha de hacerse visible en el texto, este ha de apoyarse en temas de entonación, heroicidad, en las continuidades de la imaginación como centro de las concepciones que se hacen prevalecer en sentido elocuente del artista, donde la importancia del sueño y la realidad han de manifestarse en un intenso reflujo de dimensiones que han de quebrantar las necesidades del significado de la vida en el personaje.

Pero, ¿quien es Enrique de Ofterdingen? Es un joven de unos 20 años, que arremetido por los sueños considera explícitamente y esta convencido de ver algún significado en la aparición de una hermosa flor azul. Esta forma de afrontar el significado de dicha flor azul, le ayuda a definir las opciones posibles de esa búsqueda como signo de vitalidad del concepto que más luego irá socavando en su discurso. Esta flor azul es el símbolo central del libro, la cual adquiere bellos rasgos de la aun desconocida Matilde. Tres sueños le dan forma a la novela inspirado en la técnica de la imaginación, en esto se centra la primera parte de la novela, pero Novalis no se sentía a gusto con lo escrito, por las delimitaciones espaciadas, donde cada unos de los sueños los veía como islas separadas, y es por esto que se trazo escribir una segunda parte donde sueño y realidad estuvieran ligadas entre si, pero la muerte lo sorprendió. De inicio, Novalis ponderó esta novela como una respuesta al Wilhem Meister de Goethe, pues considero esta con muy baja coste poética, pues no veía bien el triunfo de lo económico por encima de lo poético.

“No sé, pero me parece como si hubiera dos caminos para llegar a la ciencia de la historia humana: uno, penoso, interminable y lleno de rodeos, el camino de la experiencia; y otro, que es casi un salto, el camino de la contemplación interior. El que recorre el primero tiene que ir encontrando las cosas unas dentro de otras en un cálculo largo y aburrido; el que recorre el segundo, en cambio, tiene una visión directa de la naturaleza de todos los acontecimientos y de todas las realidades, es capaz de observarlas en sus vivas y múltiples relaciones, y de compararlas con los demás objetos como si fueran figuras pintadas en un cuadro.”

Mas allá de la critica que algunos que no ven con buenos ojos al romanticismo, como una corriente vinculatoria de los gustos, por las acciones llevadas a cabo por sus personajes, creo ver esta novela aceptable. Lo que sale de la boca de sus personajes, y en esta caso el largo viaje de Enrique quien se va empapando con la poesía y la filosofía, hacen del texto grande, nos da una visión de lo que es la poesía, su función. “Un poeta que fuera al mismo tiempo un héroe sería ya un enviado de Dios; sin embargo, nuestra poesía no es capaz de darnos una figura como ésta.” Y que decir de lo conversando entre Matilde y Enrique, es para perderse “¿Dónde está el Amor? —En la Imaginación.”

“La Esfinge preguntó:
—¿Qué es lo que llega de un modo más súbito que el rayo?
—La venganza —dijo Fábula.
—¿Qué es lo más efímero?
—Lo que uno posee sin que le pertenezca.
—¿Quién conoce el mundo?
—El que se conoce a sí mismo.
—¿Cuál es el eterno misterio?
—El Amor.
—¿En quién se encuentra?
—En Sofía”
Profile Image for Anima.
432 reviews55 followers
April 26, 2017
Who yieldeth himself to love's
deep madness,
From its wounds is never free.
The world a grave becometh,
The heart, like ashes in an urn.”

"In the art of poetry, on the contrary, there is nothing tangible to be met with. It creates nothing with tools and hands. The eye and the ear percieve it not ; for the mere hearing of the words has no real influence in this secret art. It is all internal ; and as other artists fill the external senses with agreeable emotions, so in like manner the poet fills the internal sanctuary of the mind with new, wonderful, and pleasing thoughts. He knows how to awaken at pleasure the secret powers within us, and by words gives us force to see into an unknown and glorious world. ..
The language of the poet stirs up a magic power ; even ordinary words flow forth in charming melody, and intoxicate the fast- bound listener."

"A mystic token deeply graved is beaming Within the glowing crimson of the stone, Like to a heart, that, lost in pleasant dreaming,
Keepeth the image of the fair unknown.
A thousand sparks around the gem are streaming,
A softened radiance in the heart is thrown ;
From that, the light's indwelling essence darts,
But ah, will this too have the heart of hearts ?"

Part Two
The Fulfilment


“The world a grave becometh,
The heart, like ashes in an urn.”

Sylvester: “it is a long time since I saw your father. We were both young then… I noticed in him the tokens of a great artist; his eyes flashed with the desire to become a correct eye, a creative instrument; his face indicated inward constancy and persevering industry. But the present world had already taken hold of him too deeply; he would not listen to the call of his own nature.

The stern hardihood of his native sky had blighted in him the tender buds of the noblest plants;

He became an able mechanic, and inspiration seemed to him but foolishness.”

“Indeed” said Henry, “I often observed a silent sadness within him. He always labored from mere habit, and not for any pleasure. He seems to feel a want , which the peaceful quiet and comfort of his life, the pleasure of being honored and beloved by his townsmen, and consulted in all important affairs of the city, cannot satisfy. His friends consider him happy ; but they not know how weary he is of life, how empty the world appears to him, how he longs to depart from it. And that he works so industriously not so much for the sake of gain, as to dissipate such moods….….
My father with all his cool and sturdy habits of thought, which leads him to regard all relationships like a piece of metal or work of art, yet involuntarily and unconsciously exhibits a silent reverence and godly fear before all incomprehensible and lofty phenomena…”

Sylvester: “All productions of the earth are its primitive language; every new leaf, every particular flower, is everywhere a mystery, which presses outward; and since it cannot move itself at love and joy, nor come to words, becomes a mute quiet plant. When we find such a flower in solitude, is it not as if everything about it were glorified, and as if the little feathered songsters loved most to linger near it? One could weep for joy, and separated from the world, plant hand and foot in the earth, to give it root, and never abandon the happy neighborhood. Over all the sterile world is spread this green, mysterious carpet of love. Every Spring it is renewed, and its peculiar writing is legible only to the loved one, like the nosegay of the East; he will read forever, yet never enough, and will perceive daily meanings, new delightful revelations of loving nature.”
Profile Image for Mike.
64 reviews
February 20, 2012
I laughed when I read many of the reviews on this book, after the fact. I had not read any reviews when I started this book, and I'm not sure I would have started if I'd read many of the lack luster reviews. I found this book when researching a line from C.S. Lewis' "Surprised by Joy" wherein Lewis describes himself as a “…votary of the blue flower…” which turned out to be a reference to German Romanticism, specifically the works of Novalis. Why is German Romanticism symbolized by a blue flower? Apparently it is a direct result of this seminal work by Friedrich von Hardenberg, also known as Novalis. So, I set out to read this seminal work to decipher the mystery of the blue flower and see if I myself might not become more familiar with what Lewis knew. Looking back at the reviews now I see that this book was on a list of “1001 books to read before you die,” which seems to have inspired many other readers to give this book a try with rather elevated hopes. I had no idea I was one book closer to being able to pass on peacefully.

In short, I would say that my grand experiment in discovering what Lewis had discovered failed. While so many other experiments in reading the books that inspired those who inspired me have paid off deliciously, I think I lacked the appropriate background to fully appreciate this book on the first pass. Setting aside the admittedly grandiose preconceived notions, my thoughts on this book are mostly positive.

The character of Henry is somewhat flat for my tastes. He is a young man who is trying to figure out what the world is all about via the tales and education he gets from others, while he himself seems relatively un-experienced at the beginning of the book. He is definitely a dreamer and others see him as a poet. From my experience the main attraction in Henry is that he seems to come into contact with interesting people and through him we get to hear their stores. Possibly this is a commentary on the nature of the poet, that their purpose is to get out of the way and let the stories shine? It seems like Novalis is alluding to this dichotomy between “doers” and “thinkers” in the beginning of chapter 6 where he discussing the nature of heroes and poets, a part of the book I found fascinating.

After finishing those parts of the book that the author finished before dying, I was sufficiently interested to be sad that it wasn’t finished. In style, this book reminded me of a combination of the Canterbury tales and the Faerie Queene. Like Canterbury tales, there is a journey involved as well as frequently a story-within-a-story construction, and like the Faerie Queene, Novalis used much strong imagery and frequently poetry to convey a sense of mysticism.
As this is such a short book and was so densely packed with interesting concepts, I would have no qualms recommending this book to anyone genuinely interested in fantasy, romantic writings, or even philosophy, however I could not in good conscience recommend it to anyone looking for a good light read.

One of my favorite quotes describes the since of closeness and connection the character Henry feels for his newly discovered love, Mathilda. “She put a wondrous, secret word into his mouth, and it rang through his whole being. He was about to repeat it, when his grandfather called, and he awoke. He would have given his life to remember that word.” I found this to be hauntingly beautiful.
Profile Image for Markus.
644 reviews78 followers
June 7, 2017
NOVALIS i.e. Friedrich von Hardenberg, (1772 – 1801)
‚Heinrich von Ofterdingen‘, published posthumous 1802
An Ode to Poetry and Poets, from the Great German Romantic period.
At first, the novel, when young Heinrich sets out to travel and discover the world, the story appears very much inspired by Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre’. (1795)
Pictures of the landscape, conversations with fellow travelers, new things to see every day, Heinrich is delighted with his new life. He learns to think about his future and what will be his destiny and what will he be and what he will do.
Fittingly, the first chapter is named ‘Expectation.’
Literature style at first appears simple and narrative,
Poetry, songs, and romantic dreams transform the traveling story into a wild fairy story, of greatest fantasy, love, philosophy,
and mythology.
The second chapter is named ‘Fulfilment’.
This part is now pure poetry, dream come true of love and philosophy of having reached his destiny.
Only twenty pages were written in this chapter by the author before he died at a very young age.
Scholars have written many books about Novalis and his work.
Proclaimed him one of the greatest German Poets, Philosopher and Thinker of his time.
Goethe’s equal, had he not died so young.
In reading all the notes and comments I became aware of the far-reaching value and interest of Novalis’s work and will look for additional documentation.
Profile Image for Leni Iversen.
230 reviews46 followers
March 15, 2021
A young man dreams (and obsesses) about a blue flower, travels with his mother to meet his grandfather and is told stories, fables and poetry by everyone he meets on the way. Then he falls in love with a woman - whom he associates with the blue flower - and trains to be a poet. The book is allegory within allegory, parts of which reads like a fever dream and other parts like a sermon. Novalis planned to write a series of six or seven Romances which would be vehicles for his philosophy and theories about various concepts. This first one is about poetry, but he died before he got further than the start of the second half/part of the book.

I didn't really get along with this book. I'm sure it's terribly innovative and ambitious and all, but to me it was just pretty words, at length, with poetry, and a bit preachy. And full of mysticism, which I generally don't mind but here I just found it confusing. It was like visiting a mythopoetic world where every single character is Tom Bombadil, but they're all enacting the Silmarillion but also physically transforming into ever new aspects of (Greek and Roman) mythological characters and concepts. Or at least that's the closest I can get, and it wasn't really like that at all.
Profile Image for Tej.
168 reviews7 followers
November 24, 2014
I'm not sure why this was marked as one of the 1001 books I must read before I die. The author himself died before he finished it. He may be a fine example of German Romanticism, but he's no Goethe. And I'm not even sure I like Goethe all that much. The only thing good I can say about this is that it was short.
Profile Image for Oana David.
Author 1 book185 followers
May 18, 2022
I think this would have been a much more intriguing read for me 200 years ago.
Profile Image for Rjyan.
101 reviews7 followers
March 2, 2017
This book has one of the best opening sequences ever. It also doesn't have any ending, because Novalis died before finishing it. Dude died at 28, which makes a lot of sense after you read this book, whose protagonist, Henry, is about as sensitive and precious as you can get. I don't mean "precious" in the Annoying Little Twink sense: the atmosphere is richly suffused with wonder and Henry's awe makes you want to say Aww. For a while at least: while Henry and his mother journey with a bunch of merchants, the stories they tell & some of the characters they meet provide a variety of different fables. Once their journey is over, though (about 2/3s of the way through the book?) things get a lot mushier and less urgent and a little bit fatiguing.

Novalis apparently had a love-hate thing with Goethe's work, which def comes through. This story is said to be a response to "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship", in which Novalis wanted poetry to triumph over economy. His poetic prowess has much to commend it, but it remains pretty ironic that the story eventually loses steam and then just stops. I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 3, though, mostly because of all the dingdong low-balls randos are giving it. The book has no pretensions to realism and it's bizarro that people got all the way through the thing without getting that.
Profile Image for Ana.
263 reviews46 followers
December 4, 2014
Wenn ich das alles recht bedenke, so scheint es mir, als wenn ein Geschichtschreiber nothwendig auch ein Dichter seyn müßte, denn nur die Dichter mögen sich auf jene Kunst, Begebenheiten schicklich zu verknüpfen, verstehn. In ihren Erzählungen und Fabeln habe ich mit stillem Vergnügen ihr zartes Gefühl für den geheimnißvollen Geist des Lebens bemerkt. Es ist mehr Wahrheit in ihren Mährchen, als in gelehrten Chroniken. Sind auch ihre Personen und deren Schicksale erfunden: so ist doch der Sinn, in dem sie erfunden sind, wahrhaft und natürlich. Es ist für unsern Genuß und unsere Belehrung gewissermaßen einerley, ob die Personen, in deren Schicksalen wir den unsrigen nachspüren, wirklich einmal lebten, oder nicht. Wir verlangen nach der Anschauung der großen einfachen Seele der Zeiterscheinungen, und finden wir diesen Wunsch gewährt, so kümmern wir uns nicht um die zufällige Existenz ihrer äußern Figuren.
Profile Image for Monty Milne.
876 reviews47 followers
September 18, 2015
Many will hate this book. I thought I would too (having hated "The Alchemist" by Paolo Coelho, one of the 20th century's most over-rated books, which is an example of how NOT to write like Novalis). But -

"The partition between fiction and truth, between the past and the present, has fallen down. Faith, fancy and poetry lay open the internal world."

I had this insight too, and I think it better to get it from this book than from the bottom of the bottle, which is where I more usually find it.

"I will dissolve into dew drops, and mingle myself with ashes. Distance of memory, wishes of youth, dreams of childhood, the short joys and vain hopes of a whole long life, flit by me in robes of grey, like evening clouds after sunset."

This strange and beautiful book is much more to my taste than dreary old Goethe or repulsive Rousseau.
Profile Image for Geoff Wooldridge.
740 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2020
Henry of Ofterdingen (1802) by Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) just didn't float my boat.

Written in flowery poetic prose and a solid dose of sentimental, sappy poetry, it is one of those insipid romances, full of tender, sensitive men, beautiful but soppy women, waxing forever lyrically about both the unbridled joys and insufferable tribulations of life. Spare me, please!!!

I found it hard to retain attention to the story line and, by the end, I could hardly tell you what it was about, let alone have any reasonable opinion on its purpose.

This example of early German Romanticism is vaguely about a blue flower and the budding romance between young Henry and a chick named Matilda, but in my view, it is a work of indulgence, and I was totally bored from beginning to end.

Fortunately, it was mercifully short and I got it done it just four sessions. Not recommended.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
271 reviews
November 21, 2013
It very much helps to read about the ethical and philosophical aspects of early romanticism before you start reading this book!
The book is written as a polemic against Goethe's "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre". Imagine the courage it took to create this!
As I found out, a lot of today's views on traveling and life haven't been changed since this book was published. That's pretty amazing...
15 reviews2 followers
January 16, 2022
Poëzie, mystiek, mythologie en filosofie verwerkt in het avontuur van Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Een exces aan sentiment, tot het bijna komisch wordt. Maar eerlijk is eerlijk, wie wil uiteindelijk niet voelen als een romanticus?
Profile Image for Benn Uzayy .
87 reviews11 followers
September 3, 2019
Novalis'e Geceye Övgüler ile hayran kalmıştım. Şiirleriyle yüreğe dokunan, imgeleriyle düşsel bir gezinti sunan şair bu kitabında da bir benzerini sunuyor, özlem duyduğu aşk dolu ütopik dünyasını bu kitapla gerçekleştiriyor. Özlenen düşleneni, masal, fabıl, mitoloji, hikayelerde... lerde aradığımızıı bize tek kitapta sunuyor.
263 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2017
The philosophical implications of this book went right over my head. I sort of enjoyed most of the fairy tales until the last one, which was 28 pages long and incoherent. Were drugs a problem back in the late 1700s?
Profile Image for Tom.
447 reviews9 followers
August 20, 2018
Fragments of drivel. It's almost a parody it's so overblown. It makes one think of the satires when a girl is desperately trying to snog a guy and he keeps waxing poetical. In fact, that actually happens. Just the worst attributes of the German Romantic temperament
Profile Image for Sana.
360 reviews
July 28, 2018
Die literarische Epoche der Romantik wird manchmal gerne als eine Art Höhepunkt in der deutschen Literatur bezeichnet, denn entgegen vielen anderen Epochen hält die Romantik sowohl sehr viel Düsternis und Mystisches, jedoch auch Philosophisches und Lebensbejahendes bereit und bildet somit vielleicht die größten Kontraste in sich selbst. Aus diesem Grund ist Heinrich von Ofterdingen auch ein sehr gutes Beispiel, um die gesamte Bandbreite dieser Epoche zu begreifen, denn man findet garantiert selten in einem Buch so viele Lebensweisheiten und verschiedene Ansichten auf gewisse Themen wie die Liebe, das Leben und vor allem die Poesie wie in diesem fragmentarischen Werk Novalis'. Dieser legt nämlich sehr viel Wert darauf, diese Themen in all ihren Facetten zu beleuchten und berührt somit nicht nur die Herzen von Hobbyphilosophen, sondern auch von Leuten, die selbst gerne schreiben und dabei ähnliche Themen aufgreifen wie der Autor hier. Kombiniert mit seinem sehr schönen Schreibstil, der sehr verträumt und voller Detailverliebtheit daherkommt und einen in diese mittelalterliche, aber doch fantasievolle und etwas paradoxe Welt entführt, ist dies sehr packend und berührend. Novalis zeigt wirklich, dass er der geborene Romantiker ist, indem er eine Geschichte über einen Dichter schreibt, und somit Märchen, Volkslieder und Gedichte in die Geschichte selbst eingestreut werden. Die meisten von ihnen besitzen eine sehr schöne Moral und werden mit Sicherheit nicht nur mich dazu gebracht haben, Papier und Stift zu zücken und sich bestimmte Zitate zu notieren. Vor allem das Weinlied, das auf dem Fest in Augsburg gesungen wird, erzählt so viele Wahrheiten über das Leben und wie man es nutzen sollte, solange man noch jung ist. Aus diesem Grund dürften sich vor allem jüngere Menschen, die noch nicht weit herumgekommen sind und sich eher in Zurückhaltung wiegen, mit Heinrich identifizieren, da er bloß durch die Reise das Leben erstmals kennenlernt und so auch die Poesie langsam verinnerlicht und begreift. Insofern bieten sich wirklich sehr viele Perspektiven, die einem selbst eventuell die Augen aufmachen könnten, sodass man sich ebenso weiterentwickelt wie Heinrich es tut.
Dadurch gewinnt dieses Fragment auch an Emotionalität, weil man während der Charakterentwicklung Heinrichs gemeinsam mit ihm erlebt, wie wohltuend es sein kann, aus dem grauen Alltag auszubrechen und sich in neue Gebiete zu wagen, egal ob geographisch oder seelisch. Aufgrund seines schüchternen und nachdenklichen Charakters bekommt man das Gefühl, ein Kind an der Hand festzuhalten, während es seine ersten Schritte in die Welt tut, und sich gemeinsam mit ihm freut oder gemeinsam mit ihm leidet, denn so viele Märchen auch erzählt werden, Novalis hat doch deutlich gemacht, dass das Leben auch alles andere als märchenhaft verlaufen kann. Somit erlebt man einen großen Wechsel an Emotionen, der einen mitreißt und den man wirklich spüren kann, auch, da der Schreibstil Novalis' sich mit zunehmender Traurigkeit und Tragik verändert, es dabei aber immer noch schafft, nicht zu depressiv rüberzukommen, sondern immer noch eine gewisse Schönheit zu beherbergen. Insofern gibt es wenig äußere Handlung, da Heinrich hauptsächlich durch die Gegend stapft, Menschen kennenlernt und sich mit ihnen über besagte Themen unterhält, jedoch einen großen inneren Wandel, den Heinrich vollzieht, um am Ende zu verstehen, dass man sozusagen nach jedem tiefen und schmerzhaften Einschnitt ins Leben wiedergeboren wird und die Chance hat, neu zu beginnen. Diese trotz allem optimistische Einstellung bildet einen schönen Abschluss für das Buch, auch wenn sie manchmal durchzogen ist von Melancholie und dem typisch romantischen Merkmal der Sehnsucht.
Von daher bietet dieses Buch einem wirklich eine Menge an Philosophie und Weisheit, ab und an unterbrochen durch sehr schöne Produkte der Poesie, die einen entweder zum bestätigenden Nicken oder zum Lachen bringen können. Doch hier erschleicht sich dasselbe Problem wie bei der Herr-der-Ringe-Trilogie Tolkiens: Es ist sehr detailreich und liebevoll gestaltet, es erzählt von der Reise namens Leben, allerdings gibt es abgesehen von diesem nachdenklichen Charakter nicht viel, was das Buch zu bieten hat. Menschen, die gerne denken und Wertbegriffe für sich selbst definieren, wird es wohl sehr zusprechen, jedoch bleibt man im Laufe des Buches kaum mehr am Ball, weil es sehr wenig äußere Handlung gibt. Langeweile ist daher also eventuell vorprogrammiert, insbesondere wenn Novalis ins Schnulzige abdriftet. Wie schon erwähnt, geht es in diesem fragmentarischen Werk auch um die Liebe, und wie es damals eben üblich war für Romantiker, gibt es sehr viel Zuckerguss, große Herzen, Liebe auf den ersten Blick und Heiraten auf das dritte Treffen. Es gibt ungelogen eine zwei Seiten lange Stelle, in der sich die Turteltäubchen in allen möglichen Varianten ihre Liebe schwören und dabei sehr viele Freudentränchen deren Wangen herunterkullern, sie sich in den Armen liegen, es niemanden sonst auf der Welt gibt und sie sich sicher sind, dass es noch nie jemanden gegeben hat, der sich genauso sehr geliebt hätte etc.. Sollte man auf diesen Typus Liebe stehen und es schnulzig mögen, so wird man hin und weg sein von diesen beiden, glaubt man jedoch daran, dass Liebe Zeit braucht, um zu wachsen, und dass es keinesfalls gesund ist, wenn man ,,nicht ohne seinen Geliebten sein kann'', dann wird man wohl doch eher die Augen verdrehen und sich fragen, wie lange sie noch dort rumstehen und das ,,Ich liebe dich - Ich liebe dich aber mehr''-Spiel in Mittelaltersprache-Form spielen werden.
Hinzu kommt, dass man, selbst wenn man ein großer Liebhaber von Metaphorik und Allegorien sein sollte, vor allem bei Klingsohrs Märchen einfach nicht mitkommt. In diesem Falle verläuft sich Novalis in seinem eigenen Gedankenkonstrukt so sehr, dass bis heute nicht vollkommen entschlüsselt werden konnte, was einige Szenen aus jenem Märchen darstellen sollten. Hätte man als Leser keinen Anhang gehabt, in dem gewisse Textstellen erläutert werden, so wäre an dieser Stelle nichts als Kauderwelsch angekommen.
Zudem kann man eine sehr zwiegespaltene Meinung zu den Charakteren entwickeln, denn zum einen trifft man auf einige unterschiedliche Menschen, denen man mit Sicherheit nicht jeden Tag auf der Straße begegnet, und liest auch gerne über deren Geschichte, die sie oftmals im Anschluss erzählen. Allerdings hätte es nicht geschadet, wenn tatsächlich so etwas wie Beziehungen entstanden wären, denn innerhalb von nur ein oder zwei Tagen oder gar innerhalb einer einmaligen Begegnung lässt sich dies äußerst schwer gestalten. Jeder - außer natürlich den Frauen - hat eine gewisse belehrende Funktion für Heinrich, was prinzipiell zwar nicht schlecht ist, jedoch wenig Abwechslung reinbringt. Insbesondere, da diese Personen oftmals mehr Erfahrungen gesammelt haben als das unbeschriebene Blatt Heinrich wäre es sehr viel interessanter gewesen, mehr über jene Burschen zu erfahren, denn mit Heinrich allein als äußerst passiven Protagonisten kann man wenig anfangen. Zwar besitzt er etwas sehr Kindliches, und man verspürt schon den Drang, ihm in gewisser Weise in der Geschichte beizustehen, aber es dauert doch eine relativ lange Zeit, bis sich der Junge traut, über seinen eigenen Schatten zu springen und sich tatsächlich verändert. Bis dahin hat etwas sehr Fragiles, was manch einen Leser auch aufregen könnte.

Trotz einiger durchwachsener Stellen und einer ab und an übertriebenen Metaphorik und Symbolik kann man diesem fragmentarischen Roman doch Vieles abgewinnen, insbesondere wenn man interessiert an Literatur, Dichtung oder Philosophie allgemein ist. Vor allem die vielen kleinen Einstreueungen in Form von Gedichten und Märchen sind wirklich sehr schön platziert und bieten einem Abwechslung in der Geschichte selbst, da diese sehr linear verläuft und von all den Gedankengängen und tiefgründigen Gesprächen abgesehen nicht sonderlich spannend ist. Vielleicht insbesondere etwas für Menschen, die sich selbst ein wenig in Heinrich widergespiegelt sehen und einen Anreiz finden wollen, mal aus ihrem Schneckenhaus hervorzukriechen, und vor allem etwas für die Poeten unter uns!

Gesamtwertung: 3.83/5.00 Sternen

Mehr Rezensionen von mir unter sanas-version.blogspot.de
Profile Image for Bookfreak.
176 reviews23 followers
November 7, 2022
Όλα όσα θέλει κανείς να μάθει για τον ρομαντισμό μπορεί να τα βρει εδώ, στο ανολοκλήρωτο αλλά σπουδαίο έργο του Νοβάλις. Αναζήτηση του απολύτου, εξύμνιση της φύσης και αλληλεπίδραση της με το υποκείμενο, ποίηση, αφοσιωμένος έρωτας. Τι μπορεί να λένε όλα αυτά σε έναν αναγνώστη του 21ου αιώνα είναι ένα ερώτημα που απαντάει ο καθένας.
Profile Image for Czarny Pies.
2,531 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2016
Henry von Ofterdingen est un roman à quatre étoiles pour ceux qui aiment déjà le romantisme allemand et plus specifiquement l'oeuvre de Ludwig Tieck. Si vous ne connaissez pas très bien le romantisme allemande, vous serez mieux de commencer avec d'autres auteurs de l'époque tells que Goethe, Tieck, Jean Paul, Kleist et Hoffman. Henry von Ofterdingen n'est pas une porte d'entrée. Ses extases poetiques dépassent toutes les limites raisaonables. C'est un plaisir seulement pour les initiés du romantisme allemand.

Henry von Ofterdingen est un hymne extraordinaire à l'honneur de la poesie qui est d'après Novalis l'instrument qui permet à l'homme de construire le royaume de Dieux sur terre. Dans sa courte vie, Novalis a surtout vecu la mort de ceux qu'il aimait mais cet oeuvre est d'un optimisme extraordinaire. Novalis qui proclame à chaque page que, grace à la poesie, le bonheur est toujours immanent.
Ce que Novalis nous a laissé est un petit fragment d'une grande oeuvre. On est peut-etre mieux de ne pas avoir l'oeuvre complete. Le langage est extravagant. Le roman court que nous avons a une grande force de frappe. S'il était plus long, il deviendrait rapidement tres ennuyeux.

Profile Image for Lead.
3 reviews
December 26, 2008
Novalis, the author of _Heinrich von Ofterdingen_, among the founders of the Romantic movement, also wrote the classic book of poems, _Hymns to the Night_, in which he attempts to seduce his beloved Sophie with all manner of words and rhyme -- but those hymns are not the subject of this review. For a good secondary source on this book, and the entire Romantic movement, there's always Bob Richards' _Romantic Evolution_. The fragment in this book, "Klingsor's Marchen" ("Marchen" being German for "fairy tale"), precipitated around St. Anselm's "ontological proof of the existence of God", represents, in Michael Murrin's words, "Some of the directions science fiction should be taking, but isn't" -- hence, if you write fantasy or science fiction, this book is indispensable -- and besides, the metaphor of an orgy in which the breasts turn into a living, moving sea is unforgettable.
Profile Image for Pavel Nedelcu.
313 reviews123 followers
May 31, 2019
Libro che rispecchia pienamente l'epoca, ovvero quel periodo della letteratura tedesca in cui i romantici cercavano di dare un nuovo impulso alla cultura del paese, in molti casi creando ex novo intere categorie letterarie e di pensiero. Forse non sempre i mezzi corrispondono agli scopi e per quanto Novalis sia ormai considerato canone della letteratura tedesca e mondiale, leggerlo oggi può risultare un po' difficile. La traduzione di Landolfi: ottima!
Profile Image for Maan Kawas.
733 reviews61 followers
April 20, 2017
A strange but enchanting book! I enjoyed it so much, though, I have to admit, the allegorical tale at the end of part one was complex and difficult to understand or interpret. I particularly loved the hints about the primal paradise-like golden age and the good relationship man used to enjoy with the animals, trees, etc....
Profile Image for Frank Strada.
68 reviews1 follower
October 12, 2020
Hated it - didn’t finish it. I may write a review of what I did read someday, but for now I just want to go on to better things. I thought I would get a better understanding of the German romantic movement by reading Novalis. I read The Blue Flower by Patricia Fitzgerald a few years ago, which was a bio fictional account of Novalis’s early life. It led me to this novel. Oh well - I tried.
Profile Image for Deanne.
1,775 reviews113 followers
March 3, 2013
Beautifully written, a German classic which I heard of through the 1001 books list. A quick read, in which Henry goes on a journey with his mother to visit her family.
On their way they encounter other travellers, and hear stories and tales.
Profile Image for Anne.
165 reviews10 followers
October 10, 2011
Great, poetic style - it's a pity this book has never been finished and Novalis' life was over so soon ...
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