The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
Don Carlos

Arm in Arm mit dir, So fordr' ich mein Jahrhundert in die Schranken.

'Don Carlos'.

WITH the publication of 'Don Carlos' Schiller's literary reputation entered upon a new phase. Hitherto he had been known as a playwright in whom the passion for strong effects often obscured the sense of artistic fitness. Of his dramatic power there could be no doubt, but had he the higher gift of the great poet? Would he ever be able to clothe his conceptions in a form that would appeal permanently to the general 'heart because of high and rare artistic excellence? Doubts of this kind were quite justifiable up to the year 1787, but they were set at rest by 'Don Carlos'. However vulnerable it may be as a poetic totality, it has passages that are magnificent. Its sonorous verse, wedded to a lofty argument and freighted with the noblest idealism of the century, made sure its author's title to a place in the Walhalla of the poets.

Except 'Wallenstein' no other work of Schiller cost him such long and strenuous toil. 'Don Carlos', like Goethe 'Faust', is a stratified deposit. The time that went to the making of it, only four years in all, was comparatively short, but it was for Schiller a

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