Women and Writing in the Works of Novalis

Women and Writing in the Works of Novalis

Transformation beyond Measure?

James R. Hodkinson


Camden House



A balanced study of gender in Novalis as expressed in his literary, political, and scientific writings and in his letters.
The great poet and polymath Friedrich von Hardenberg, known as Novalis, was long seen as representing a particular brand of German Romanticism, embodying a predilection for the mystical and the irrational and a longing for death. Yet 20th-century scholars debunked that myth and arrived at a view of the poet as one who produced a unified, precociously modern body of work in which human systems of individual and collective being as well as knowledge and its disciplines exist as fictional structures, as represented possibility rather than fixed truth. As such, all being and knowledge could and should be subjected to the ironic play of Romantic poetry, which sought to renew the individual and the world it inhabited. Hardenberg's work has come in for particular criticism for idealizing women, thus denying the living, expressive female subject; the conservative social roles it ascribes to women are also cited. Although more recent critics have discerned an empowered female subject in Novalis, this is the first balanced, book-length study of gender in Novalis in English. It concludes that Hardenberg's Romantic writing began to be successful in reinventing the "fiction" of female identity, and goes further to reveal his extensive interaction with women as intellectual equals.

James R. Hodkinson is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Warwick, UK.


December 2007
286 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571133762
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, SOC028000
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Table of Contents

Writing in Context: Romanticism, Gender, and the Case of Novalis
Writing about Women, 1795-99
Esteem and the Epistolary: Hardenberg and Women of Letters
Music and the Manifold of Voices: The Subject and the Theory of Polyphony, 1797-99
From Music to Metamorphosis: Women's Role and Writing in Heinrich von Ofterdingen, 1798-1801
"Freyes Fabelthum": The Poetic Construction of Gender in Hardenberg's Religious Writing
Conclusion: Progression, Reaction, and Tension in Hardenberg's Gender Writing
Works Consulted


Well written, carefully researched and documented, and convincingly argued . . . The author's knowledge of Novalis is comprehensive. CHOICE

Hodkinson subscribes on the whole to an approach to Novalis studies popular with poststructuralists, but he does not subsume the author under the theory. . His focus is more on close readings than on developing a new theory of a Romantic theory of writing. But he does explain what (at least one sort of ) "Romantic" writing actually is, and how Novalis's philosophy and poesy fit into that context. MONATSHEFTE

Hodkinson attempts to bring the problem of women in Novalis into relation to the problem of writing.... GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

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