“Ich bin ud bleibe bloß Poet und als Poet werde ich auch sterben.” Friedrich Schiller’s Sense of Poetic Calling and the Role of the Poetic Idea in his Emerging Professional Identity as a Dramaturge
AuthorCser, Agnes Judit
AdvisorMartinson, Steven D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMy dissertation, „Ich bin und bleibe bloβ Poet und als Poet werde ich auch sterben. “ Friedrich Schiller and the Role of the Poetic Idea in his Emerging Professional Identity as a Poet-Dramaturge, examines how Schiller’s deep sense of poetic calling and his desire to ennoble human character informed his literary works. His conceptions of drama, early dramatic practice, and the exogenesis of his own aesthetic theories crystallized his understanding of what it meant to be a poet. Furthermore, Schiller’s studies on human physiology strongly impacted his pursuit of portraying and developing whole characters on the stage as models of human behavior in the interest of forming an efficacious society. Schiller’s main material was the human being. His study of human nature, I argue, greatly informed his poetic impulse. As a dramatist, Schiller sought to capture human beings’ best possible expressions. The serious play of creating poetic form—therewith cultivating the beautiful--became for him a joyous inspiration. In reestablishing ‘form’ as a key literary concept, the field of literary studies pursues ‘poetics of culture’ and diverse cultures of form. I contend that the imaginative intellectual quality of his poetic pursuit, das Dichterische, becomes intuitively comprehensible to us through Schiller’s conceptions and creative productions of form via Geistestätigkeit, the purpose of which is to drive human faculties towards mutual cooperation and wholeness of being. This study thus explores how Schiller sought to counteract the one-sided development of human beings through his presentations of dramatic characters and their interactions. We focus, first, on theoretical conceptions of the aesthetic education of human beings and, second, the dynamic relationships that Schiller’s creative acts explore in his dramas, Die Räuber and Don Carlos. We seek to account for the sources that fed Schiller’s poetic imagination and the forces that determined the forms of his creative activities. Then trace the manners in which Schiller’s concept of the beautiful expose new interpretive perspectives, in particular how the poet’s dramatic art ennobles human character. Methodology Schiller dedicated himself to the creative activity of the light of his mind, his writings will guide my thoughts on this topic. Selected contributions to scholarship that relate to our topic are also consulted. We embark on a process of inquiry into the imaginative-intellectual quality of Schiller’s poetic pursuits that is both chronological and inductive in nature. Following the intuitive process that developed Schiller’s poetic consciousness, we scrutinize “sources” that fed the German author’s imagination and “forces” that guided his understanding of himself as a poet-dramaturge. Throughout this project, we engage the following seminal theoretical writings: Die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen, Über das Pathetische, Über die Tragische Kunst, Über Naïve und Sentimentalische Dichtung, Anmut und Würde, and the Rezensionen über Bürgers und Matthissons Gedichte in light of his early medical writings, dramas, and correspondence. We narrow our task by focusing our attention on the nature of Schiller’s pursuit of das Dichterische. The characteristic element of Schiller’s creative thinking consists in his consciousness of form: [D]enn durch die Form allein wird auf das Ganze des Menschen [und nicht] auf einzelne Kräfte gewirkt. By inquiring into how the artistic pursuit of giving humankind its fullest expression Schiller determined his vocation as a poet-dramaturge. Through his inquiries into the nature of beauty [die Schönheit] and the formation of the beautiful [das Schöne] Schiller’s personality as an artist (Künstlerpersönlichkeit) emerged. In Chapter 1, we trace Schiller’s intellectual and artistic development in the light of his writings on and his intuitive awareness of his calling as a poet. Chapter 2 delineates how Schiller began to devote himself to his profession as a poet and actualized his sense of purpose. In Chapter 3, we inquire into how Schiller developed the theoretical-practical foundation of his poetic pursuit, i.e. das Dichterische. We argue that by establishing beauty as the symbol of alliance between Geist and Sinn, Schiller schooled himself in ways that men and women experience themselves as complete, i.e., whole human beings through the medium of art. Part II contains a discussion of Schiller’s theories of drama. Chapter 4 addresses how Schiller’s debut play, Die Räuber, engaged the sensations in and between his dramatic characters and of his audience in his endeavor to ennoble human character. By considering seriously the tragic flaw of his characters, we claim that Schiller’s purpose was to educate human beings how to negotiate either the improvement or deterioration of their state of affairs. In Chapter 5, we analyze key elements that helped to construct Schiller’s first polished (“classical”) drama, Don Carlos. Throughout the dissertation, we seek to demonstrate how Schiller worked out and defined his professional identity as a poet-dramaturge at the intersections of his medical writings, aesthetic theories, and dramatic practice. Scholarship on Friedrich Schiller We begin and end the dissertation with Friedrich Schiller’s self-identification and prediction for the future. “Ich bin und bleibe bloß Poet and als Poet werde ich auch sterben.” Schiller lived and died a poet. Since the most recent commemoration of his death took place in 2005, we begin with some critical remarks on several book publications that appeared in that year. We remain sensitive to the state of research (Stand der Forschung) in order to gain deeper insight into Schiller’s aspirations and accomplishments. We include several older contributions to scholarship that have not been sufficiently discussed by subsequent scholars but are still relevant to contemporary concerns. Comments on subsequent individual contributions to scholarly research from 2005 to the present day are included in each of the chapters of this dissertation. Along with, and at some variance from that body of work, our main purpose here is to explain Schiller’s self-realization of his vocation and professional identity as a poet-dramaturge. The year 2005 witnessed a cascade of scholarly contributions on the work of Friedrich Schiller. In order to jump start our discussion of Schiller’s personal and professional identity, we have selected four of numerous book publications that appeared in and around the two-hundredth anniversary of Schiller’s death. The trend to consider Schiller a philosopher has a considerably long history. It is continued by Rüdiger Safranski in his book, Friedrich Schiller Oder Die Erfindung des Deutschen Idealismus (2004). While covering much of Schiller’s life and writings, Safranski keeps a close eye on one of the several activities in which Schiller engaged: philosophy. But the concepts that philosophy must generate and work through cannot account for the creative or literary qualities of a poet’s work, such as the term idealism in the title of Safranski’s book. Frederick Beiser’s book, Schiller as Philosopher. A Re-examination appeared in 2005. More so than Safranski, Beiser associates Schiller with philosophy much more overtly. Importanty, and unlike the trends of scholarship, Beiser maintains that Schiller’s concepts on aesthetics and morality are much clearer and more precise than Kant’s. The trend to privilege the philosopher Schiller over the poet continues. We offer two criticisms of Safranski’s masterful philosophical biography of Schiller for consideration. First, with respect to Schiller’s dramas, Safranski asks where the freedom is in Die Räuber. Afterall, he maintains, “Freiheit ist, wenn sich ein Ich mit seinem Selbst zusammenschließt. Dieser Gedanke, der hier zum ersten Mal aufblitzet, wird Schiller noch ein Leben lang beschäftigen, und er wird ihn grandios ausarbeiten” (115). Clearly, Safranksi’s thought is informed by the German idealism’s explorations or the subject and Subjektivität. It is not surprising that he should then draw out the seemingly negative developments in the dramatic action in Die Räuber. He is disappointed that there is no final resolution (“Versöhnung”) of conflict. His position is understandable given his appropriation of Hegel’s aesthetics. Hegel was especially critical of Schiller’s Wallenstein for its ostensible privileging of death over life. Schiller’s trilogy did not reflect the resolution of conflict he expected of a true tragedy. Safranski writes in a similar manner. “Es gibt am Ende keine Versöhnung, sondern nur den Triumph der stolzen Freiheit bei Karl, der seinem Selbst getreu bleibt. Mit dem Pathos dieser Freiheit, nicht mit dem Pathos einer wiederhergestellten Ordnung endet das Stück” (115). But Schiller’s play concerns what underlies the seeming interest in remaining true to oneself, as Safranski asserts. Given Schiller’s understanding of the stage as a tribunal, if there is a question of identity of self, then it is the author who remains true to his calling or vocation as a poet-dramaturge. Another major contribution to Schiller scholarship that appeared in 2005 is Norbert Oellers’ Schiller. Elend der Geschichte, Glanz der Kunst. Oellers’s book registers far greater sensitivity to the poet, Friedrich Schiller, than does Safranski. There is good reason why Oellers devotes more than half of his study to discussions of Schiller’s dramas. Because, as we argue, he was, first and foremost, a poet-dramaturge. Oellers makes the important point that it was not the believability or probability of characters and actions, in which Schiller was most interested. Rather, “das Dramatische ‘an und für sich’, das nur eine spannende, wenn auch im Einzelnen nicht recht nachvollziehbare Handlung verlangt und eine Sprache, die über die Wirklichkeit hinausreicht und gerade in der Unwahrscheinlichkeit des Geschehens eine Stütze findet” (126). For us, however, it is not the dramatic element in and of itself in which we are interested but, rather, how Schiller’s dramatic practice with his theoretical reflections grants him a clearer understanding of his calling as a poet. We add that, without his dramatic practice, the theory Schiller worked out would not have been possible. The poet-dramaturge drew on his unique ability to create captivating characters and lasting memories of them in his own image. He also understood and employed the transformative power of dramatic effect by creating associations between his characters and the lives of his readers and audiences. The theatrical and aesthetic experience of Schiller’s literary-dramatic works draws the audience and readers closer not only to the characters on the stage in which the audience sees themselves but, also, to themselves whose lives are impacted by the theatrical experience and close and imaginative readings of his work. My study demonstrates that in pursuit of refining human beings’ capacity of feeling through the training of the faculty of sensation (die Ausbildung des Empfindungsvermögens), it was through the creative process of writing his early dramas that Schiller began to conceive aesthetics in conceptual pairs: the naïve and the sentimental, grace and dignity, beauty and the sublime. By inquiring how Schiller’s debut play, Die Räuber, and his first classical drama, Don Carlos, expand and further form not only the faculty of the intelligence but refine the sensibilities of the heart, i.e., the sensations (Empfindungen), I claim that Schiller’s professional identity unfolds in writing theory and creatively constructing dramas like Die Räuber and Don Carlos. In the final analysis, Schiller’s theory and dramatic works, taken together, are powerful tools in the Bildung, i.e. cultivation of the whole human being. Recent developments in scholarship present Schiller more often as a theorist than a poet. Such interest is largely due to poet’s intensive study of aesthetics, and his hiatus from poetic-dramatic production following his appointment as professor of history at the university in Jena in 1789. My point here is that Schiller was never able to reconcile the disparity between his lofty theoretical ideas and poetic creativity. Schiller knew that, when defining an abstract concept, the intelligence demands agreement between thought and its representation of form. In the case of intuitive comprehension, the mind is caught by surprise when sensing agreement between sense and reason. By explaining the difference between intuitive and logical comprehension, Schiller comes closest to comprehending why it was at first difficult to overcome the seeming contradiction between his theoretical pursuits and poetic creativity. Schiller recognized that the art of poetry could be highly useful instrument of schooling for the reciprocal cooperation of reason and sense. My research discloses how Schiller’s understanding of das Dichterische becomes the underlying force of his creative activity giving form to his dramatic creations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College