Full text: Zeitungsausschnitte über Werke von Herman Grimm: Essays

© Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg, Best. 340 Grimm Nr. Z 34 
aus : The Nation, Nr.985,1884,Mai 15, 
s. 432-433 
GRIMM’S ESSAYS. 
Fünfzehn Essays. Von Herman Grimm. Ber 
lixx. New York: B. Westermann & Co. 
The essay on Emerson, the first of this most inte- 
resting series, was writteu shortly after the death 
of our great thinker, and its appreciative tone 
and high estimation of Emerson’s writiogs and 
influence cannot fail to win the sympathy of 
American readers. “Emerson desired that to 
his countrymen should remain the advantage of 
an unbiassed criticism of the Past,untrammelled 
by the transfer of European historical bur- 
thens.” Whether he was inspired by a feeling 
prevailing around him, or whether his teachings 
have become the mainspring of American lite- 
rary culture, is a question Grimm cannot deter- 
mine. Emerson’s essays tend to make man inde 
pendent in thought and action; they invite him 
to self-examination, to seek his true vocation in 
life and to follow it. To the Idealist he shows 
the results of practical labor; to the realist the 
beauty and usefulness of intellectual culture, 
and these lessons have hörne rieh fruit in various 
soils. Carlyle’s admiration of Emerson is well 
known. Tyndall’s words have been quoted fre- 
quently: “ lf any one can be said to have given 
the Impulse to my mind, it is Emerson: what- 
ever I have done, the world owes to him.” 
Among his own people his influence ispara- 
mount. Our critic is strack with the clearness 
and simplicity with which New England Profes 
sors and students develop their theme, going to 
the point at once with out superfluous allocu- 
tions. He also finds much to praise in the func- 
tion of the daily press in bringing together 
“those who have something to teil and those 
who wish to hear what is told.” This remark 
relates to the accounts in the daily papers at the 
time of the death of Longfellow and Emerson, 
and the mass of interesting detail they gave con- 
cerning both. 
Grimm became acquainted in early youth 
with Emerson’s writings, and describes the Im 
pression they made on him of deep understand- 
ing, of sympathetic contemplation of the world 
and just appreciation of past and present—an 
inward power no other shares with him. Na 
ture seemed to have revealed her secrets to him, 
and there was no question one might not have 
asked him, feeling sure he must know all things. 
His thoughts, rumfing in short oracular sen- 
tences, were like the verses of some never end- 
ing poem, the plan of which he would one day 
unfold. All this and much more Grimm teils 
us. In his own words : " As the wind by night, 
passing through a wood or over a meadow, 
bringe us the breath of trees and grasses and 
flowers we cannot see, Emerson envelops us 
with a feeling of things brought very near to 
us. This fteling of my own I now hear ex- 
pressed on all sides, as if all had feit thus from 
the beginning.” It is needless to follow our au- 
thor through the account of Emerson’s life, or 
to Comment on the Sketch of his works incor 
porated in this article. 
“Fiorenza : Remarks on Certain Poems of 
Dante and Michael Angelo,” goes far to per- 
suade us that Dante and Michael Angelo, in 
several poems tili now supposed to have been 
written to fair and cruel ladies, addressed the 
personification of their native city. Lome critics 
have seen Philosophy or some unknown lady in 
Dante’s Canz. ix., beginning— 
“ Cosi nel mlo parlar vogllo esser aspro.” 
Others, because the beloved is apostrophized as 
being of 8tone, have thought of Donna Pietra 
degli Scrovegni, a Paduan lady, to whom an- 
other poem is addressed. There is no doubt 
that the reproaches so liberally bestowed were 
merited by the poet’s ungrateful Florence. In 
the case of Michael Angelo, Grimm argues the 
point step by step so cleverly, bringing in fresh 
indications in evidence of his theory, that we 
cannot refuse to be convinced. The German 
rendering of several of Dante’s sonnets and of 
the above-cited canzone are very well done. 
They are transcribed by Grimm with great 
poetic freedom, and therefore do not lose the 
beauty and freshness generally wanting in 
translations. This article is full of interesting 
historical and biographical detail, and deserves 
to be carefully read and considered. 
The essay on Raphael’s “ School of Athens ” 
in the Vatican follows. It is not light reading, 
nor have we space to examine our author’s ex- 
haustive criticisms of previous writers on the 
same Subject, of which there are not a few. 
The great point of discussion is whether the 
central figures of the composition represent 
Plato and Aristotle, or Plato and Paul the 
Apostle. Considerable diversity of opinion ex" 
ists, also, as to the identity of the groups to the 
right and lest of the foreground. No documents 
of the time bear any record of this painting, or 
make any mention of its existence. In the suc- 
ceeding essay, on the early life and works of 
Raphael, we are reminded how few reliable 
documents exist concerning bis personal life. It 
is only within the last fifty years that, through 
the investigations of the priest Pungileoni in 
the archives of Urbino, we know the real dates 
of his birth, his father’s death, etc. Pungileoni 
published his account, * Elogio Storico di Ras-. 
faelJe Santi d’Urbino,’ in 1839, besides another, 
of Giovanni Santi, his father, some years pre 
vious to this. From these it appeared how very 
inexact Vasari’s life is, and how much more like 
a romance thau «erious biography. Leven let- 
ters written by Raphael’s band remain to us, 
with 800 paintings, and more thau 600 drawings. 
These alone suffice to reconstruct the history of 
his work. We cannot, for want of space, dwell 
at any length on this study. It may internst 
our readers to leam that the small picture lately 
purchased for a high price and sent to St. Pe 
tersburg, known as the Madonna Staffa, is 
considered by Grimm to be Raphael s earliest 
work. 
The treatise on the origin of the populär story 
of Doctor Faustus is one of the most interesting 
essays of this Collection. The material got to 
gether for this was originally intended for a 
book on the Subject, but as the author has little 
hope of finding time for such a work he gives us 
a resumd of his vast stock of lore. The interna 
tional popularity of the old book of ‘ Faustus’ he 
ascribes chiefly to the fact that.although it treat- 
ed of spiritual,clerical,and supernatural matters, 
itkeptclear of any leaningtowardsthe Protestant 
or the Catholic faith, so that the clergy of nei- 
ther religion saw fit to take umbrage at its Con 
tents. The Strassburg puppet-show piece from 
which Goethe got the principal facts of his 
great creation, is generally traced back to the 
“Faustus” of Marlowe. The English writer 
had used a translation of the old book of ‘ Dr. 
Faustus ’ brought to England in the year of its 
Publication, 1587, by strolling actors. The au 
thor, or rather Compiler,of this boolf is unknown, 
but it is not difficult to recognize the original 
narrative as distinct from the innumerable dis- 
connected adventures tacked on to it from va 
rious sources. Dr. Johannes Faust of the story 
is neither Catholic nor Protestant, nor has he 
any connection with the Reformation, while his 
Prototype, Dr. George Faustus, is mentioned by 
Luther and Melanchthon,and was a well-known 
ebaraeter in his day. Trithemius, Abbot of 
Sponheim, considered him a swindler, yet he 
seems to have been received by Franz von Sick 
ingen and clerical persons of Spires and Er 
furt. He was a learned man, proficient in 
Greek and mathematics, and boasted that he
	        

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