Novalis quotes

Novalis photo
102   5

Novalis

Birthdate: 2. May 1772
Date of death: 25. March 1801
Other names: Novalis Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg, Новалис (Фридрих фон Харденберг)

Novalis was the pseudonym and pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg , a poet, author, mystic, and philosopher of Early German Romanticism. Hardenberg's professional work and university background, namely his study of mineralogy and management of salt mines in Saxony, was often ignored by his contemporary readers. The first studies showing important relations between his literary and professional works started in the 1960s. Wikipedia

Works

„The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet.“

—  Novalis, book Blüthenstaub

Blüthenstaub (1798), Unsequenced
Context: The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap.

„Our life is no Dream, but it may and will perhaps become one.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)

„I found myself, a mere suggestion sensed in past and future ages.“

—  Novalis

As quoted in Romantic Vision, Ethical Context: Novalis and Artistic Autonomy (1987) by Géza von Molnár, p. 2
Context: I was still blind, but twinkling stars did dance
Throughout my being's limitless expanse,
Nothing had yet drawn close, only at distant stages
I found myself, a mere suggestion sensed in past and future ages.

„Every stage of education begins with childhood. That is why the most educated person on earth so much resembles a child.“

—  Novalis

“Miscellaneous Observations,” Philosophical Writings, M. Stolijar, trans. (Albany: 1997) #48

„Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.“

—  Novalis

As quoted in Quote, Unquote‎ (1989) by Jonathan Williams, p. 136

„The waking man looks without fear at this offspring of his lawless Imagination; for he knows that they are but vain Spectres of his weakness.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: The waking man looks without fear at this offspring of his lawless Imagination; for he knows that they are but vain Spectres of his weakness. He feels himself lord of the world: his me hovers victorious over the Abyss; and will through Eternities hover aloft above that endless Vicissitude. Harmony is what his spirit strives to promulgate, to extend. He will even to infinitude grow more and more harmonious with himself and with his Creation; and at every step behold the all-efficiency of a high moral Order in the Universe, and what is purest of his Me come forth into brighter and brighter clearness. This significance of the World is Reason; for her sake is the World here; and when it is grown to be the arena of a childlike, expanding Reason, it will one day become the divine Image of her Activity, the scene of a genuine Church. Till then let man honour Nature as the Emblem of his own Spirit; the Emblem ennobling itself, along with him, to unlimited degrees. Let him, therefore, who would arrive at knowledge of Nature, train his moral sense, let him act and conceive in accordance with the noble Essence of his Soul; and as if of herself Nature will become open to him. Moral Action is that great and only Experiment, in which all riddles of the most manifold appearances explain themselves. Whoso understands it, and in rigid sequence of Thought can lay it open, is forever master of Nature.

„It is the maximum of the savage; and has, in these times, gained, precisely among the greatest weaklings, very many proselytes. By this ideal, man becomes a Beast-Spirit, a Mixture; whose brutal wit has, for weaklings, a brutal power of attraction.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: The ideal of Morality has no more dangerous rival than the ideal of highest Strength, of most powerful life; which also has been named (very falsely as it was there meant) the ideal of poetic greatness. It is the maximum of the savage; and has, in these times, gained, precisely among the greatest weaklings, very many proselytes. By this ideal, man becomes a Beast-Spirit, a Mixture; whose brutal wit has, for weaklings, a brutal power of attraction.

„There is, properly speaking, no Misfortune in the world.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: There is, properly speaking, no Misfortune in the world. Happiness and Misfortune stand in continual balance. Every Misfortune is, as it were, the obstruction of a stream, which, after overcoming this obstruction, but bursts through with the greater force.

„Moral Action is that great and only Experiment, in which all riddles of the most manifold appearances explain themselves.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: The waking man looks without fear at this offspring of his lawless Imagination; for he knows that they are but vain Spectres of his weakness. He feels himself lord of the world: his me hovers victorious over the Abyss; and will through Eternities hover aloft above that endless Vicissitude. Harmony is what his spirit strives to promulgate, to extend. He will even to infinitude grow more and more harmonious with himself and with his Creation; and at every step behold the all-efficiency of a high moral Order in the Universe, and what is purest of his Me come forth into brighter and brighter clearness. This significance of the World is Reason; for her sake is the World here; and when it is grown to be the arena of a childlike, expanding Reason, it will one day become the divine Image of her Activity, the scene of a genuine Church. Till then let man honour Nature as the Emblem of his own Spirit; the Emblem ennobling itself, along with him, to unlimited degrees. Let him, therefore, who would arrive at knowledge of Nature, train his moral sense, let him act and conceive in accordance with the noble Essence of his Soul; and as if of herself Nature will become open to him. Moral Action is that great and only Experiment, in which all riddles of the most manifold appearances explain themselves. Whoso understands it, and in rigid sequence of Thought can lay it open, is forever master of Nature.

„What has passed with him since then he does not disclose to us. He tells us that we ourselves, led on by him and our own desire, will discover what has passed with him.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: What has passed with him since then he does not disclose to us. He tells us that we ourselves, led on by him and our own desire, will discover what has passed with him. Many of us have withdrawn from him. They returned to their parents, and learned trades. Some have been sent out by him, we know not whither; he selected them. Of these, some have been but a short time there, others longer. One was still a child; scarcely was he come, when our Teacher was for passing him any more instruction. This child had large dark eyes with azure ground, his skin shone like lilies, and his locks like light little clouds when it is growing evening. His voice pierced through all our hearts; willingly would we have given him our flowers, stones, pens, all we had. He smiled with an infinite earnestness; and we had a strange delight beside him. One day he will come again, said our Teacher, and then our lessons end. — Along with him he sent one, for whom we had often been sorry. Always sad he looked; he had been long years here; nothing would succeed with him; when we sought crystals or flowers, he seldom found. He saw dimly at a distance; to lay down variegated rows skilfully he had no power. He was so apt to break everything. Yet none had such eagerness, such pleasure in hearing and listening. At last, — it was before that Child came into our circle, — he all at once grew cheerful and expert. One day he had gone out sad; he did not return, and the night came on. We were very anxious for him; suddenly, as the morning dawned, we heard his voice in a neighbouring grove. He was singing a high, joyful song; we were all surprised; the Teacher looked to the East, such a look as I shall never see in him again. The singer soon came forth to us, and brought, with unspeakable blessedness on his face, a simple-looking little stone, of singular shape. The Teacher took it in his hand, and kissed him long; then looked at us with wet eyes, and laid this little stone on an empty space, which lay in the midst of other stones, just where, like radii, many rows of them met together.

„Goethe is an altogether practical Poet.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: Goethe is an altogether practical Poet. He is in his works what the English are in their wares: highly simple, neat, convenient and durable. He has done in German Literature what Wedgwood did in English Manufacture. He has, like the English, a natural turn for Economy, and a noble Taste acquired by Understanding. Both these are very compatible, and have a near affinity in the chemical sense.

„A character is a completely fashioned will.“

—  Novalis

vollkommen gebildeter Wille
Novalis (1829)

„Over his own heart and his own thoughts he watched attentively. He knew not whither his longing was carrying him.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: Over his own heart and his own thoughts he watched attentively. He knew not whither his longing was carrying him. As he grew up, he wandered far and wide; viewed other lands, other seas, new atmospheres, new rocks, unknown plants, animals, men; descended into caverns, saw how in courses and varying strata the edifice of the Earth was completed, and fashioned clay into strange figures of rocks. By and by, he came to find everywhere objects already known, but wonderfully mingled, united; and thus often extraordinary things came to shape in him. He soon became aware of combinations in all, of conjunctures, concurrences. Erelong, he no more saw anything alone. — In great variegated images, the perceptions of his senses crowded round him; he heard, saw, touched and thought at once. He rejoiced to bring strangers together. Now the stars were men, now men were stars, the stones animals, the clouds plants; he sported with powers and appearances; he knew where and how this and that was to be found, to be brought into action; and so himself struck over the strings, for tones and touches of his own.

„Now to Some it appears not at all worth while to follow out the endless divisions of Nature; and moreover a dangerous undertaking, without fruit and issue.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: Now to Some it appears not at all worth while to follow out the endless divisions of Nature; and moreover a dangerous undertaking, without fruit and issue. As we can never reach, say they, the absolutely smallest grain of material bodies, never find their simplest compartments, since all magnitude loses itself, forwards and backwards, in infinitude; so likewise is it with the species of bodies and powers; here too one comes on new species, new combinations, new appearances, even to infinitude. These seem only to stop, continue they, when our diligence tires; and so it is spending precious time with idle contemplations and tedious enumerations; and this becomes at last a true delirium, a real vertigo over the horrid Deep

„Man has ever expressed some symbolical Philosophy of his Being in his Works and Conduct“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: Man has ever expressed some symbolical Philosophy of his Being in his Works and Conduct; he announces himself and his Gospel of Nature; he is the Messiah of Nature.

„Men travel in manifold paths: whoso traces and compares these, will find strange Figures come to light; Figures which seem as if they belonged to that great Cipher-writing which one meets with everywhere“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: I. The Pupil. — Men travel in manifold paths: whoso traces and compares these, will find strange Figures come to light; Figures which seem as if they belonged to that great Cipher-writing which one meets with everywhere, on wings of birds, shells of eggs, in clouds, in the snow, in crystals, in forms of rocks, in freezing waters, in the interior and exterior of mountains, of plants, animals, men, in the lights of the sky, in plates of glass and pitch when touched and struck on, in the filings round the magnet, and the singular conjunctures of Chance. In such Figures one anticipates the key to that wondrous Writing, the grammar of it; but this Anticipation will not fix itself into shape, and appears as if, after all, it would not become such a key for us. An Alcahest seems poured out over the senses of men. Only for a moment will their wishes, their thoughts thicken into form. Thus do their Anticipations arise; but after short whiles, all is again swimming vaguely before them, even as it did.

„It depends only on the weakness of our organs and of our self-excitement (Selbstberuhrung), that we do not see ourselves in a Fairy-world. All Fabulous Tales (Mahrchen) are merely dreams of that home world, which is everywhere and nowhere.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: It depends only on the weakness of our organs and of our self-excitement (Selbstberuhrung), that we do not see ourselves in a Fairy-world. All Fabulous Tales (Mahrchen) are merely dreams of that home world, which is everywhere and nowhere. The higher powers in us, which one day as Genies, shall fulfil our will, are, for the present, Muses, which refresh us on our toilsome course with sweet remembrances.

„No one, of a surety, wanders farther from the mark than he who fancies to himself that he already understands this marvellous Kingdom, and can, in few words, fathom its constitution, and everywhere find the right path.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: No one, of a surety, wanders farther from the mark than he who fancies to himself that he already understands this marvellous Kingdom, and can, in few words, fathom its constitution, and everywhere find the right path. To no one, who has broken off, and made himself an Island, will insight rise of itself, nor even without toilsome effort. Only to children, or childlike men, who know not what they do, can this happen. Long, unwearied intercourse, free and wise Contemplation, attention to faint tokens and indications; an inward poet-life, practised senses, a simple and devout spirit: these are the essential requisites of a true Friend of Nature; without these no one can attain his wish.

„He discovers in them, therefore, necessary members of his spirit; he observes that both must be united in some common Principle. He infers that Eclecticism is nothing but the imperfect defective employment of this principle.“

—  Novalis

Pupils at Sais (1799)
Context: If on the one hand the Scholastics and Alchemists seem to be utterly at variance, and the Eclectics on the other hand quite at one, yet, strictly examined, it is altogether the reverse. The former, in essentials, are indirectly of one opinion; namely, as regards the non-dependence, and infinite character of Meditation, they both set out from the Absolute: whilst the Eclectic and limited sort are essentially at variance; and agree only in what is deduced. The former are infinite but uniform, the latter bounded but multiform; the former have genius, the latter talent; those have Ideas, these have knacks (Handgriffe); those are heads without hands, these are hands without heads. The third stage is for the Artist, who can be at once implement and genius. He finds that that primitive Separation in the absolute Philosophical Activities' (between the Scholastic, and the "rude, intuitive Poet") 'is a deeper-lying Separation in his own Nature; which Separation indicates, by its existence as such, the possibility of being adjusted, of being joined: he finds that, heterogeneous as these Activities are, there is yet a faculty in him of passing from the one to the other, of changing his polarity at will. He discovers in them, therefore, necessary members of his spirit; he observes that both must be united in some common Principle. He infers that Eclecticism is nothing but the imperfect defective employment of this principle.

„The Art of a well-developed genius is far different from the Artfulness of the Understanding, of the merely reasoning mind.“

—  Novalis

Novalis (1829)
Context: When we speak of the aim and Art observable in Shakespeare's works, we must not forget that Art belongs to Nature; that it is, so to speak, self-viewing, self-imitating, self-fashioning Nature. The Art of a well-developed genius is far different from the Artfulness of the Understanding, of the merely reasoning mind. Shakspeare was no calculator, no learned thinker; he was a mighty, many-gifted soul, whose feelings and works, like products of Nature, bear the stamp of the same spirit; and in which the last and deepest of observers will still find new harmonies with the infinite structure of the Universe; concurrences with later ideas, affinities with the higher powers and senses of man. They are emblematic, have many meanings, are simple and inexhaustible, like products of Nature; and nothing more unsuitable could be said of them than that they are works of Art, in that narrow mechanical acceptation of the word.

Similar authors

Matthias Claudius photo
Matthias Claudius1
German poet
Friedrich Schiller photo
Friedrich Schiller111
German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright
Jean De La Fontaine photo
Jean De La Fontaine47
French poet, fabulist and writer.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe photo
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe184
German writer, artist, and politician
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing photo
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing18
writer, philosopher, publicist, and art critic
Alexander Pope photo
Alexander Pope158
eighteenth century English poet
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg photo
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg137
German scientist, satirist
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori photo
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori2
Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musici…
Baron d'Holbach photo
Baron d'Holbach9
French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist
Gottfried Leibniz photo
Gottfried Leibniz29
German mathematician and philosopher
Today anniversaries
Honoré de Balzac photo
Honoré de Balzac157
French writer 1799 - 1850
Cher photo
Cher9
American singer and actress 1946
Cristoforo Colombo photo
Cristoforo Colombo29
Explorer, navigator, and colonizer 1451 - 1506
Joseph Murphy photo
Joseph Murphy10
American writer 1898 - 1981
Another 59 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Matthias Claudius photo
Matthias Claudius1
German poet
Friedrich Schiller photo
Friedrich Schiller111
German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright
Jean De La Fontaine photo
Jean De La Fontaine47
French poet, fabulist and writer.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe photo
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe184
German writer, artist, and politician
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing photo
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing18
writer, philosopher, publicist, and art critic