Fantastic Authors: Achim von Arnim(1781 – 1831)

Ludwig_Achim_von_Arnim

A German novelist and poet, born in Berlin. He is best known for a collection of folk-songs made with Clemens Brentano. and published (1806-08) under the title of the initial song, Des Knaben Wunderhorn. He studied the natural sciences at Göttingen and Halle, and received the degree of M.D., but never practiced medicine. His first work, Theorie der elektrischen Erscheinungen, showed a leaning to the supernatural, common among the German romanticists, still more strongly marked in his Hollins Liebeleben (1802), and Ariels Offenbarungen (1804). Der Wintergarten (1809), a collection of romantic tales, was followed in 1810 by a striking novel, Die Gräfin Dolores. Halle und Jerusalem (1811) is a humorous romance, and Isabelle von Ägypten (1811) a mediocre novel. Two years later he collected his dramas. In 1817 he produced his last and best romance, Die Kronenwächter, a story of the days of Emperor Maximilian. His works are careless in form, incoherent in structure, and romantically whimsical, but they show a remarkable originality of invention. They were collected, with an introduction by Wilhelm Grimm, in twenty volumes (1839-48). There is a brilliant eulogy of Arnim in Heine’s Deutschland.

Théophile Gautier would say of him:

The genius Achim d’ Arnim, so deeply German and romantic in all the meanings which one can give to this note. A purist of that fire – a Fantastic Écrivain (Writer), whose voice does not have the clearness of a Callot or Hoffmann, but which draws from a life centre based in the extravagant and bizzare world of shadows, a spectral fantastic with the precise contours of a  Tartaglia, Sconronconcolo, Brighella, Scaramouches, the Trousers, Truffaldins and other characters of the grotesque; he proceeds rather in the manner of Goya, the author of Caprichos; he covers a board of black, and, by some skillfully distributed keys of light, he outlines in the medium these garish clusters of darkness in which the spectral inhabitants are hardly indicated, and these figures from which the enlightened side is barely perceptible and detached, and in which the other is lost confusedly in the shadow of sombernous; serious strange aspects in keeping with an intense morbidity, heads of an intimate and insipid charm and decadent grace, masks of sniggerers with worrying cheerfulness, look at you, smile at you and scoff at you at the bottom of this night of nights in a shadow world where vague gleams fray and disperse under a blank sky.

Sadly I have not found any good translations of his works in English. Arnim is considered one of the most important representatives of German Romanticism. His works were collected, with an introduction by Wilhelm Grimm, in twenty volumes (1839–48). Heinrich Heine wrote a eulogy of Arnim in his Deutschland. His works include:

  • Hollin’s Liebeleben (1802)
  • Ariel’s Offenbarungen (1804)
  • Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Folktale Collection, 3 vol., with Clemens Brentano, 1806 and 1808)
  • Tröst Einsamkeit (Book collection of Arnim’s published Zeitung für Einsiedler, 1808)
  • Der Wintergarten (1809)
  • Mistris Lee (1809)
  • Armut, Reichthum, Schuld und Buße der Gräfin Dolores (1810)
  • Halle und Jerusalem (play, 1811)
  • Isabella von Ägypten. Kaiser Karl des Fünften erste Jugendliebe (novella, 1812)
  • Schaubühne (play, 1813)
  • “Frau von Saverne” (story, 1817)
  • Die Kronenwächter. Bd. 1: Bertholds erstes und zweites Leben (unfinished novel, 1817)
  • Der tolle Invalide auf dem Fort Ratonneau (novella, 1818)
  • “Fürst Ganzgott und Sänger Halbgott” (story, 1818)
  • Die Gleichen (play, 1819)
  • “Die Majoratsherren” (story, 1820)
  • “Owen Tudor” (story, 1820)
  • “Landhausleben” (story, 1826)
  • Die Päpstin Johanna (published posthumously by Bettina von Arnim, 1846)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s