Adalbert Stifter's Der Nachsommer : a comparison with the classicism of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Walsh, Michael G.
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Adalbert Stifter's novel Per Nachsommer (1857) is perhaps his greatest work of all. In this novel many elements are found which can be considered as typical of Stifter, for it offers shining examples of Stifter's ideals of art, nature and humanity. Many of these ideals correspond to those set forth by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the most influential literary proponent of German Classicism and the great model of the Austrian writer. Per Nachsommer is often counted as a work of Biedermeier literature because of the period in which it was written, but more accurately, this work could be considered exemplary of German Classical Idealism taken perhaps to an even higher degree than Goethe himself did. German Classicism in literature reached its first high point during Goethe's travel in Italy (1786-1788), in which he received profound inspirations for a new outlook on nature, art and society. Perhaps this was the first real renaissance of ancient Roman and Greek culture in Germany, because the first European Renaissance came late to that country and was stilted in growth by the Thirty Years' War and the effects of the Reformation. Goethe brought the ideals of ancient Roman and Greek culture back to life in all genres of German literature. Adalbert Stifter was greatly influenced by Goethe and he also put the classical ideals in the center of his work. This thesis attempts to illustrate the classical influence found in Stifter's Nachsommer. From Goethe's ideal of the "schoene Seele" (beautiful soul) to the depiction of true aesthetic beauty in art and nature, all of these and more are found transplanted in Der Nachsommer.