Academic journal article German Quarterly

Novalis und die Wissenschaft

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Novalis und die Wissenschaft

Article excerpt

Uerlings, Herbert, ed. Novalis and die Wissenschaft. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1997. 295pp. DM 98.00 hardcover.

This volume documents the first meeting of the International Novalis-Gesellschaft held at SchloB Oberwiederstedt from September 29 to October 2, 1994. The collection of fourteen essays, each accompanied by transcripts of some of the discussions which took place after individual presentations, is a treasure trove of insights into a highly complex subject and will most certainly be invaluable for further investigation into the rich materials that constitute Novalis's work in the sciences. Encompassing the fields of historiography, political science, medicine, philosophy, mathematics, medicine, psychology as well as anthropology, the volume makes evident the rich and multifaceted preoccupations and studies of a Romantic poet who has mostly been appreciated for his contributions to literature and literary theory. This seems all the more surprising, since, as John Neubauer points out in his essay "Das Verstandnis der Naturwissenschaften bei Novalis and Goethe," Novalis was, together with Goethe, one of the few figures of his age whose extensive scientific investigations gave him a solid basis in the knowledge of his time, though the two poets' ultimate aims were quite different. For Novalis, as for many of his contemporaries, the concept of science was anti-positivistic. He was most of all interested in the unity of all nature, the interrelationship of all knowledge, for which finality is not the object of inquiry but an ideal, never ending task. In addition, some of the topics, as for example the Romantics' discovery of the unconscious, had not even established themselves yet as discrete fields of inquiry-the topic of Manfred Engel's "`Traumen and Nichttraumen zugleich.' Novalis' Theorie and Poetik des Traumes zwischen Aufklarung and Hochromantik" and Gerhard Schulz's "Novalis' Erotik. …

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