I

Stefan Anton George was born on the 12th July 1868, in Büdesheim near Bingen on the Rhine, the son of a well-to-do owner of vineyards who afterwards owned a wineshop in Bingen itself. The family was peasant in origin, but the poet's father had become affluent enough to enable his son to devote his life to poetry without requiring of him that he should take up any of the accepted money-making professions. There seem to have been no parental conflicts: both father and mother accepted tacitly the way of life their son had chosen. After the usual school education George spent some time at the University of Berlin. But the years of travel, rather than university studies, completed an education based on the classical training of a German Gymnasium (Darmstadt) in the latter half of the nineteenth century. From his childhood George had shown a great interest in words, and whilst still a child he invented a language of his own. Later in life he returned to this idea and carried it out more fully in a sort of lingua franca, which included Latin, Provençal, Catalan and Spanish elements; so fully indeed was this artificial language developed that he was able to use it for poetical composition, and two poems in Der Siebente Ring were originally written in it. The last two lines of the poem Urspruenge in the same volume are written in the language he invented as a child.

He was at home in many European languages; and his translations of English, French, Italian and Spanish poetry, as well as his translations into English and French of his own poems, bear witness to his mastery of these languages.

His travels took him to London, where he spent some months, to France, Austria, Spain and Italy. His visits to France and to Austria have outstanding importance in the history of his career as a poet. In Paris he was introduced to the circle of Symbolist poets, and accepted from them the then prevailing Symbolist mode of poetry which determined his own development as a poet. In Vienna he made the acquaintance of the young Hofmannsthal, in whom he believed he had found a poet who confirmed him in his own conception of poetry. With him, however, he failed to establish a relationship on the lines which he wished.

At home in Germany, where the greater part of his life was spent, he lived for some years in Bingen in the house of his parents. Later his chief centres of residence were Berlin, Munich and Heidelberg, in each of which towns he had a pied-à-terre, usually only a single room, in which he lived and received his

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Stefan George
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Introduction 9
  • I 11
  • II 18
  • III 20
  • IV 26
  • V 31
  • VI 45
  • VII 56
  • Appendix 59
  • Biographical Dates 62
  • Select Bibliography 63
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