Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis (German edition)
Heinrich von Ofterdingen is the protagonist of the book. He lives in a village with his parents and is a student from a private teacher, who taught him already many things. Heinrich thinks of a story which he has heard from a man. When he goes to bed he has a fantastic dream and at the end, he meets the famous blue flower, but sadly, his dream is disturbed and he wakes up. He talks about dreams with his parents and his father tells him a story. He also once had a dream which finally resulted into proposing to his mother. But his father isn’t a man, who thinks dreams are something of greater importance. Finally, his mother wants to visit her father in another city and Heinrich should go with her. She hopes that the young man will find a girl and collect new experiences, because he never normally went outside of his hometown. The mother’s home town is Augsburg.
Heinrich feels sad that he has to leave his home town and his father. They are accompanied by some merchants. The merchants talk about singers and poems and Heinrich is very excited to hear more about them. He asks them if they can tell him some things and so they do.
They tell him the role of a poet in life. Poets are able to directly stir the heart with their poems and they think it’s a mysterious but wonderful gift. They also tell a story, which outlines the power of a good poem and how they can “direct” human hearts.
In this chapter, Heinrich is told another story, which fills the entire third chapter of the book.
In summary, it’s about a king and his princess. The king loves poems and his daughter, of course. He has to find a suitable man for his daughter, but he can’t find anyone. There’s always something wrong with his candidates.
One day, the daughter goes outside and rides on her horse. She goes into the forest and sees a remote house. She goes in and sees that there live to men, a boy and his old father. She passes some time with them and the men seem not to know that they are talking with the princess of the kingdom. The boy falls in love with her, even though he doesn’t know this at first. When the princess leaves, the boy finds a stone, where a poem is inscribed. Obviously, the princess has lost it. The next day, she returns to get it from the boy. They meet up more often in the forest and share their first kiss with each other. The princess knows that she can’t marry him, because he was just a common boy living in the woods. That’s why they make a plan. She will stay with the men for a year and become pregnant and when she returns to his father, he will have to accept his proposal.
The king falls in great despair, because he doesn’t know, where his daughter was and no one in the kingdom can find her.
A year later, during a festival, he sees his daughter approaching him with a wonderful and fantastic song. He is very happy to see her, but he also sees three other people approaching him, amongst them a baby. During this whole scene, the young man is singing a wonderful poem, which convinces the king to make him to his daughter’s husband.
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They keep travelling. After some days, they make a stop at a castle of a knight, who has nothing better to do than to invite people and make party. They stay there overnight and Heinrich learns more about the life of the knight, war and slavery.
After some days, they approach a village. They go into a tavern, where there is an old interesting man, who answers many questions. Heinrich finds out that he is a miner with a lot of experience. He tells him how he became a miner and what a fantastic job it is. He has heard from some villagers that there is a curious hill, of what the farmers and villagers are afraid. This is the reason, why he is here and he offers to Heinrich and the merchants that tonight, they can go with him and investigate this mysterious place. Some farmers show them the way, but they are too afraid to actually go inside. When the old miner, Heinrich, the merchant and some other men go in, they find themselves in hall, which is full of bones. There’s a way to an even bigger hall of the hill. They see some sort of library there, with a stone table and stools. Heinrich sees a book lying opened on the stone table and looks in it. There are many pictures and texts and in some pictures, he thinks that it is him, which is logically impossible.
They hear someone else coming him and it is an old scholar, who reads books here, because he likes it there and he can completely merge into another world. He asks the miner and the other persons to not tell anyone about this place, because then, many people will come and visit him, which would be disturbing.
Blue Flower originates from Novalis
They finally arrive at the city Augsburg. They go to the castle, where the mother’s father is having a festival with many, many people. Heinrich and his mother redress themselves and join the party. Heinrich is at first quite shy. A certain man draws all his attention. He also dances with a girl called Mathilde, for whom he seems to develop romantic feelings.
When they all sit a table, he has the luck to sit next to Mathilde and near the man, who turns out to be Klingsohr, an extraordinary poet. He talks with him and Klingsohr sees in Heinrich the potential to great poetic skills.
Heinrich passes some time with Klingsohr. He tells him some things on nature, the nature of the heart, the sentiment and reason. Furthermore, he talks about poetry and what a poet needs to have in order to be a true poet.
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In the afternoons, Heinrich passes more time with Klingsohr. They keep talking about poetry, poets and poems.
He also has some time with Mathilde, where in the end, she tells him to be his forever. He tells her to be hers forever.
Klingsohr tells a really special tale. The tale itself is very complex and many people have problems analysing or interpreting it.
In raw summary, it’s the story of the two children Eros and Fabel, their mother and father and Ginnistan (the wet nurse of Eros and Fabel) how they were able to save the frozen empire of the King and to help Sophie (the King’s daughter) become the new ruler.
Second part of the book
Sadly, the second part has never been finished and there are only some pages, which were actually written.
Hermann Hesse – Siddharta
Hermann Hesse – Demian
Hermann Hesse – Narcissus and Goldmund
Hermann Hesse – Glass Bead Game
Molière – The Imaginary Invalid
Vsevolod Garshin – A red flower
E.T.A Hoffmann – The Sandman
Joseph von Eichendorff – Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts
Joseph von Eichendorff – Schloss Dürande
Georg Büchner – Woyzeck
Painting: Blue Flower by Fritz von Wille (1941)
© 2013 Slaven Cvijetic