Confluence and Crosscurrents

Schiller’s “Das Lied von der Glocke” and Hans Christian Andersen’s “Die alte Kirchenglocke”

*In one of the rare general studies of Schiller’s influence abroad Kurt Wais admonishes Germanists not to neglect the North and the East in favor of the South and the West, as he felt they were doing at the time of writing in the mid-1950s.[1] During the intervening forty years scholars appear to have heeded his exhortation with regard to the East. Building on an already substantial foundation, Kostka’s Schiller in Russian Literature (1965) and Harder’s Schiller in Rußland (1969) head the list of some ninety titles recorded in the “Schiller-Bibliographie” published in the Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft between 1962 and 1991.[2] This work both testifies to an intensified interest in Schiller’s influence in Eastern Europe and lends credence to Wais’s often repeated contention that this impact was greater in Russia, which garnered nearly two-thirds of the studies, than in any other foreign country.[3] The same cannot be said with respect to the North, not even to Denmark, which, as I shall explain momentarily, one might expect to have received special attention; during the period mentioned above, the bibliography in the Schiller-Jahrbuch registers only eight relevant titles.[4] For reasons that are not entirely clear scholars during the fifties did not have a significant tradition to draw on and themselves had to continue the process of laying groundwork.[5] Moreover, inquiry into Dano-German literary relations in general during the period from ca. 1770 to 1850 has proceeded largely along epochal lines, seeking to determine, for example, the role of the “Age of Goethe” in Danish letters, and most commentators understand the term “Goethezeit” in the sense of “Goethe and the German Romantic” reflecting a modern, i.e., postwar bias rather than historical fact.[6] During the main phase of Schiller’s influence in Denmark, to mention only one perspective, six of his plays went across the boards a total of 46 times, while only three of Goethe’s dramas managed a modest 12 performances.[7] Consequently, much of the work on Schiller and Denmark dates from the early part of this century, and many additional specialized studies must be conducted before a synthetic treatment can even be contemplated.[8] The following pages respond to this state of affairs by presenting first an introductory overview and then a case study of Schiller’s presence in Denmark. The latter offers an instructive example of how a reading by a foreigner can provide at least the potential for a corrective re-reading, indeed, a re-examination of basic assumptions, on the part of the author’s countrymen.

Contrary to the impression perhaps created by scholarship Schiller did in fact represent an artistic and intellectual force in Denmark, and it is no small wonder that he did so and that he did so there sooner than in other parts of the North. From 1721 to 1801 Scandinavia experienced that proverbial “Ruhe des Nordens” – eight decades of (relatively) undisturbed development – which in Denmark made possible what has been described as the lengthiest and most successful national period of enlightened absolutism in all of Europe.[9] Germany contributed decisively to this success by furnishing the Danish kings with a series of ministers and other officials who combined liberal convictions with singular ability and effectiveness.[10] In addition to his contributions in the political sphere Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff, foreign minister and principle adviser to Frederik V, gathered “eine deutsche Tafelrunde” in Copenhagen that included, among many others, Gerstenberg and Klopstock and that from about 1750 to 1770 heavily influenced Danish writers such as Johannes Ewald, the main representative of sentimentalism and literary Pietism in Denmark.[11] German dominance and especially the excesses of Johann Friedrich Struensee led in the seventies and eighties to the aristocratic reaction of Ove Høegh-Guldberg in politics and the “Danish” satire of Peder Andreas Heiberg in literature.[12] Following the palace coup of 1784, however, Bernstorff’s nephew, Andreas Peter, resumed his duties as foreign minister and, together with his son and successor, Christian, maintained a German influence at court until well beyond the turn of the century, while during the early eighties Ewald passed the standard of Danish literature along to the young Jens Baggesen, a Germanophile who did perhaps more than anyone else to pave Schiller’s way into Denmark.[13] When Baggesen began popularizing Schiller in the early nineties, the Danish “helstat”, or unitary state, included Denmark, Norway, Schleswig, and Holstein as well as a number of other German lands, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Even after Norway fell to Sweden in 1814 it retained strong cultural ties to Denmark for many decades and never developed comparable relations with its neighbor to the east.[14] Sweden’s assimilation of German idealism, which occurred largely independently of Denmark, did not begin until around 1809.[15]

According to Peter Boerner the literature of the “Goethezeit” was received abroad in three stages: an initial phase of “Kontaktaufnahme” that extended from the last quarter of the eighteenth century to around Napoleon’s fall; a “Blütezeit” running from the appearance of Madame de Stael’s De l’Allemagne in 1813 to the middle of the nineteenth century; and, finally, an “Epoche des Vergessens” that continues today.[16] Schiller’s reception in Denmark generally followed this line of development. Partly for reasons stated earlier, however, it anticipated each of the three stages.

Baggesen’s role in this process is not unfamiliar.[17] Interested and productive in both Danish and German letters, he in the late 1780s gained access to a highly influential circle of political and cultural figures of both nationalities, where he found and won friends for Schiller. Learning of Schiller’s poor health and financial straits in 1791, he enlisted the aid of Duke Frederik Christian of Augustenborg, who, in the spirit of the cosmopolitanism he saw in Don Carlos, awarded Schiller a stipend of a thousand Taler annually for three years, a kindness which Schiller repaid with what eventually became Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen. It was precisely the spirit of Weltbürgertum, humanity, and freedom in Schiller’s work that most appealed to Baggesen, who did not take the older writer as a model for his own plays, and that moved him to promote Schiller in his homeland.[18]

The first Dane to follow Schiller in the customary sense was Adam Oehlenschlaeger, whom Baggesen in 1800 hailed as the next leading poet of Denmark and who also became Schiller’s greatest enthusiast in the country.[19] Of Danish and German heritage and, like Baggesen, writing in both languages, Oehlenschlaeger indeed dominated Danish literature during what has been called the “klassische Romantik der Dänen” and remained productive and influential until his death in 1850.[20] In Schiller’s plays he admired the reconciliation of ancient Greek fate tragedy and modern character drama; the use of history as the setting for the testing of human greatness before fate and for the idealized struggle of ideas embodied by prominent individuals; and, finally, the mastery of dramatic form. He demonstrated this admiration in a series of lectures on Schiller’s works which he held as Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen in the winter of 1810 and 1811 and, perhaps more trenchantly, in national-historical, “Nordic”, tragedies such as Hakon Jarl and Palnatoke.

In varying ways and degrees Schiller influenced a number of other Danish writers, and not only dramatists.[21] The poetry of Schack v. Staffeldt, for example, a German who did his best work in Danish, reveals reminiscences of the Schiller of “Die Götter Griechenlands” and “Die Künstler” as well as the ballads. Bernhard Severin Ingemann’s acquaintance with Schiller’s theater left its mark on his historical novels. Schiller’s emphasis on history and national-historical themes also echoes in the verse and prose of Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, the major figure in the national awakening in Denmark during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Schiller reached Denmark not only through the creative work of Danish writers but by more direct means as well. Traveling German theater companies presented some of his plays in the original language as early as 1791, and Danish translations of his plays (and poetry) began to appear with regularity by 1801.[22] Several of these were done by Knud Lyne Rahbek, a writer and casual acquaintance of Schiller, who, particularly as editor of several literary magazines and member of the board of directors of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, did much to familiarize the Danish public with Schiller and to find a place for him on the Danish stage.[23] For reasons that resist satisfactory explanation Schiller was not performed in the Royal Theater until 1817, and he never even remotely approached the popularity of Kotzebue and Iffland.[24] Over the next twenty years, however, he asserted a position ahead of other “classical” German writers such as Goethe and Kleist and remained a possession of the cultural elite in Denmark as well as in Germany. Between 1837 and 1888, to be sure, only one of his plays appeared for a single season in the repertoire of the Royal Theater. Due to the development of national romanticism and national liberalism in both Denmark and Germany the Schleswig-Holstein question began to bedevil relations between the two countries as early as the 1830s, eventually leading to the wars of 1848-1851 and 1864, and surely played a major role in the decline of Schiller’s popularity.[25] Not until well after the dust had settled from the war between the Danish and Austro-Prussian armies and from the Gründerjahre did Schiller experience a renaissance, a wave of new translations and performances that subsided around 1911 in the face of renewed political tensions and a literary scene still dominated by Georg Brandes.

Schiller did not inspire a coherent school of followers in Denmark, for which reason Schmitz denies him “eine echte Nachfolge” there.[26] However, an acknowledged and demonstrable impact on a poet’s notions of art, community, nation, and the like surely represents an authentic discipleship, whatever the specific manifestation, and in this sense, as Baggesen’s case suggests, Schiller had a significant following. Another noteworthy case in point is Hans Christian Andersen.

Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into well over a hundred languages and continue to appear in millions of copies all over the world. His fame today derives exclusively from these works, which perhaps explains in part his consignment to children’s literature in the English-speaking world. However, his lifework also includes poetry, plays, novels, and travel books, which indeed comprise 12 of the 15 volumes of the Samlede Skrifter of 1876-1880, the most complete edition of his works to date.[27] In Scandinavia and in some circles abroad he is still considered an artist of considerable stature, and during his lifetime he was lionized throughout Europe and America, especially in Germany, many of whose literary figures he knew personally.[28]

Apropos of his relationship with German literature Andersen is usually viewed as being akin to Romantics such as Fouqué, Chamisso, and particularly E. T. A. Hoffmann.[29] As a representative of the “klassische Romantik der Dänen,” however, he also discloses ties to Classicism and the earlier eighteenth century, not least of all in his concept of art as a means of revealing, rather than transcending, reality and in his ideas on religion and progress.[30] It therefore comes as no surprise that, as a youth, he considered whether or not to take Schiller, among others, as a model for his work and that he indeed patterned one of his earliest plays, The Robbers of Vissenberg, after Die Räuber.[31] Between 1831 and 1873 he traveled to or through Germany numerous times, spending eight longer and shorter visits in Weimar alone.[32] Acquainted with Rahbek, Baggesen, and Oehlenschlaeger from his teens, he now became friends with Archduke Carl Alexander and, back home, with Christian August, the son of Frederik Christian and the current Duke of Augustenborg. He also met many other individuals directly or indirectly connected with Schiller, for example, his son, Karl, and grandsons, Friedrich and Ludwig, as well as the elderly Karoline von Wolzogen, who gave him an autograph of her brother-in-law. He visited Schiller’s home, paid his respects at the Fürstengruft, saw the poet’s skull, witnessed the unveiling of new monuments, and made a point of going by others. In his extensive and detailed diaries he records every physical and literary comparison made between him and the German, even if it happened to be drawn by a barmaid.[33] While such may seem to reflect little more than an enthusiast possessed of innocuous vanity – and Andersen was indeed a “fan” of cultural and political luminaries second to none -, he also saw and/or read all of Schiller’s plays, some of them repeatedly, and appears to have been conversant with much of the poetry as well.

In the wake of the centenary of Schiller’s birth in 1859 Andersen received a request from an acquaintance named Friedrich Anton Serre to contribute to a volume to be entitled Schiller-Album. Serre, whose estate near Dresden Andersen visited numerous times, published the commemorative collection of previously unpublished letters of Schiller and writings by contemporary notables in 1861 in connection with the founding of the Allgemeine deutsche National-Lotterie, which he created to support the Schiller and Tiedge Foundations, established to assist needy artists and their families.[34] Given his celebrity in Germany, it is not surprising that Andersen received the invitation; in view of his cordial regard for Serre and deep respect for Schiller, moreover, it is altogether understandable that he accepted it. What may not be immediately clear, and what in any case has not been examined heretofore, is why he chose “Das Lied von der Glocke” as a point of departure and what this choice says about his relationship to Schiller.

To state the obvious: Schiller’s poem has not fared well over the greater part of this century. It has the dubious distinction of being probably the most often parodied of all Schiller’s poems, having elicited 70 by as early as 1877, as well as having been selected for exclusion from Enzensberger’s Insel-anthology of 1966.[35] Benno von Wiese suggests by way of explanation that the vitality of the poem diminished in the same measure as the bourgeois values it idealizes were increasingly called into question.[36] There are other, related and more concrete reasons, of course, some of which have to do with the image of Schiller in Germany as it developed in concert with the unfolding of socio-political history in the nineteenth century. As Rainer Noltenius has recently written,

Von Schillers Tod bis 1848/49 wird Schiller von der bürgerlichen Opposition immerhin noch als Propagator demokratischer Freiheiten auf dem Weg zur einigen deutschen Nation gedeutet. Nach dem Scheitern der 48er Revolution bis 1871 überwiegt dann die Umstilisierung Schillers zum Heros nationalstaatlicher Einigung – notfalls auch undemokratischer Prägung (Nationalliberalismus) .[37]

Schiller became the national poet of Germany, as the centennial celebration in 440 German and 50 foreign cities indicates, and “Das Lied von der Glocke” came to be considered his most important poem. [58] Dramatizations to musical settings appeared as early as the year of his death, and Andersen, always an avid theater-goer, saw at least two of them.[39]

It almost goes without saying that this reception represents an oversimplification and distortion of Schiller’s thought and work. The nature of his response to the French Revolution and its aftermath remains a subject of discussion, to be sure. Against the background of reception theory and recent scholarship on nationalism, indeed, a “post-wall” study seeks to determine the extent to which his works actually lent themselves “zur Funktionalisierung als national-representatives Dichtwerk.”[40] However, even this author proceeds with the understanding that Schiller died prior to the nationalistic agitation during the wars of liberation, not to mention the “Rheinkrise” of 1840, which according to modern historiography marks the beginning of German nationalism in the strict sense of the word.[41] At least since Ursula Wertheim’s study of 1960 scholarship overwhelmingly ascribes to Schiller a cosmopolitanism (embracing a cosmopolitan concept of nation) in the positive sense of that already recognized by Baggesen and Duke Frederik Christian of Augustenborg.[42] As Noltenius reminds us, Schiller never wrote a drama of liberation or republican unification with a German theme.[43] According to recent commentary the plays that have been perceived in national-patriotic terms, most notably Die Jungfrau von Orleans and Wilhelm Tell, would appear to reflect the times through the prism of Schiller’s peculiar notions of morality and aesthetics rather than in any overt, exhortatory manner.[44] Clearly, “Das Lied von der Glocke” relates more directly to the events of the seventeen eighties and nineties than these plays; the bourgeois opposition apparently overlooked or ignored the allusiveness of the master foundryman’s musings on the possible premature cracking of the bell mold and its consequences.[45] Precisely because of the historical context – the poem appeared in 1800 – the Friede and Eintracht that the bell, Concordia, is to peal out involve not just Germans but all men.[46] All the same, this is not the way the poem was understood in 1859, and it is this understanding that most concerns us here.

We recall that the poem consists of two interwoven strands – the process of casting the bell and the reflections of the master foundryman between stages, which are conditioned by these steps. The craftsman’s musings touch on childhood, youth, and adult concerns such as love, marriage, and work; they include reversals of fortune and self-incurred disaster, recovery, harvest, and the harvest dance – in short, archetypal scenes from family and community life which, as Forster writes, is “ordered and civilized, but menaced by forces from within and without and only preserved by wise self-discipline.”[47] The bell, product of individual and common endeavor, symbollizes life in its order and fragility. At the same time it takes part in life, lending its tongue, as Schiller writes, to the passage of time and significant events in the community, and thus fulfills an important function of art, which it also represents.

Andersen’s tribute to Schiller assumed the form of a tale entitled “Die alte Kirchenglocke,” which appeared in German translation some months ahead of the Danish original in 1861.[48] Like Schiller’s poem, it contains two entwined plot lines, one tracing the poet’s life and posthumous fame and the other dealing with the fortunes of the old church bell. At the beginning of the work it is as if Schiller’s bell has already been cast and raised, only a generation or so earlier than in the poem. For it accompanies the poet’s mother during her moments of distress prior to his birth: “da drang zu ihr hinein vom Kirchenthurme ein Glockenklang so tief, so festlich, es war eine feierliche Stunde und der Glockenklang erfüllte die Betende mit Andacht und Glauben” (57); and, following his birth into humble circumstances in Marbach, the bell “schien ihre Freude über Stadt und Land hinauszuläuten” (57). Despite its vantage point aloft the bell, which Andersen personifies throughout the tale, cannot tell what will become of the young Schiller – a parallel to the uncertainty of fate expressed in the poem.[49] In the meantime he and the world around him grow, as the family moves to another town and he becomes acquainted with the Bible and the works of Gellert and Klopstock at his father’s knee.

At age six, Schiller and his mother visit friends in Marbach, where they find the old bell near the churchyard wall, its location since falling from the church tower and cracking. His mother then recounts how the bell had done its work for hundreds of years, accompanying people’s lives from baptism to burial, speaking of festivities as well as conflagrations, and then tells her son how it had rung to her just before and after his birth. In the fall and replacement of the old bell, as in the reference to the cracking of the mold in Schiller’s poem, one recognizes an allusion to the breach with tradition represented by the French Revolution. Seventeen sixty-five is not seventeen eighty-nine, to be sure. As the end of the tale clearly indicates and as we shall see, however, events and their meaning outweigh considerations of chronology. What is important here are the breakdown and then the restoration of continuity, which corresponds to the preservation of technical and sociopolitical order, despite all potential problems, in the poem. In keeping with the logic of the double allusion the role of the old bell passes not to the new one, which is scarcely mentioned, but rather to the young Schiller himself, who regards the old bell with reverence, “wie alt, zersprungen und hingeworfen sie auch dastand” (59) and stores it in both his memory and his heart.

This strand of the story goes on to trace Schiller’s rise from obscurity and poverty to fame and relative fortune, stressing the obstacles he encountered along the way. At the Karlsschule, for example, he received instruction “unter March! Halt! Front!…Da konnte schon was herauskommen!” (59), which represented the lot he had drawn “zu dem Stift, den er vorstellen sollte, in dem grossen Uhrwerke, wohin wir alle in dem handgreiflichen Nutzen hingehören” (59). Reference is then made to his flight from Stuttgart and the near fiasco preceding the acceptance of Fiesko in Mannheim. However, as Andersen writes, it is such pressure that creates a precious stone. Even in the Karlsschule the “metal” within Schiller’s breast rings out from within the circle of his comrades. As a man, this part of the tale concludes, “die Glocke in seiner Brust erschallte weiter hin als sein Fuss gehen, als seine Augen sehen sollten; sie sang und klang und klingt noch über das Weltmeer und das Erdenrund” (60). That is to say, Schiller sings of freedom, peace, and order, of his cosmopolitan ideal, and thereby, through his art, restores the continuity interrupted by the French Revolution and its aftermath.

The remainder of the story depicts the fate of the old bell, which is said to be no more certain than Schiller’s. As it turns out, its fortunes closely resemble his, for it, too, has bad days and travels further than it could have been heard, had it remained aloft. After many years, indeed, it is sold as scrap metal and shipped to Munich to be melted down for further use. Here, however, something “wunderlich und herrlich” transpires (61). The narrator briefly relates the life of the unnamed but clearly recognizable Bertel Thorvaldsen, which closely parallels that of Schiller. Thorvaldsen, probably the most world-renowned Danish artist of his age, has received a commission to execute a statue, “eine Gestalt der Grösse und Schönheit” (61). At this point we read, in the spirit of Schiller’s poem,

Und das Metall floss glühend in die Form, und die alte Glocke – ja, es dachte Niemand an ihre Heimath, an ihr hingestorbenes Läuten – die Glocke floss mit in die Form und bildete Haupt und Brust des Standbildes, das jetzt entschleiert da steht in Stuttgart vor dem alten Schlosse…wo Der, den es vorstellt, im Leben . . . da sang von dem Befreier der Schweiz und der gottbegeisterten Jungfrau Frankreichs. (61).

Then, with nothing more than the words “Es war ein schöner, sonniger Tag” (61), the time shifts tacitly from 1839, when Thorvaldsen’s statue was unveiled, to the Schiller festival twenty years later, as “Kirchenglocken läuteten zum Fest und zur Freude” (61). Here, just preceding the encomiastic conclusion of the work, the narrator states, “nur eine Glocke schwieg, sie leuchtete im hellen Sonnenschein, leuchtete von Gesicht und Brust der Ruhmesgestalt” (61-62).

If the modern reader is bothered by the pathos of Schiller’s poem, he may also find the sentimentality of Andersen’s tale distasteful. The contrived nature of the plot is patent, although fairy tale-like features such as the personification of the bell and the use of the wind as narrator in one passage perhaps diminish expectations of verisimilitude. While I have been unable to locate any German responses to the work, it received at least two, favorable reviews in Denmark, one of which reckons it among the author’s best.[50] This, however, is an opinion that is not widely held today.[51]

All such considerations aside, Andersen indeed evinces great respect for Schiller in his tale, for he acknowledges the German as the champion of bourgeois values throught art. In the process he himself asserts these shared values through his own art, establishing the textual identity of his work by entering into a symbiotic relationship with Schiller’s biography and poem, that is, drawing on them for the most essential elements of form and theme. No-one thinks of the old bell’s silence as it flows molten into the form, for it continues to ring out through Schiller’s words and the inspiration of his statue – as well, now, as through Andersen’s tale. Clearly, Schiller benefits from this symbiosis as much as or more so than Andersen, and he gains from it not least of all through his historical contextualization and re-contextualization in the story.

Earlier, we saw that Andersen has Schiller restore the traditional order disturbed by the French Revolution and its sequel. Just as the bell in the poem gathers “die liebende Gemeine” in harmony, so the bell in Schiller’s breast issues its appeal for accord “über das Weltmeer und das Erdenrund” (60).[52] Like Schiller’s contemporary Danish admirers and most recent scholars, that is to say, Andersen recognizes the cosmopolitan nature of Schiller’s sociopolitical ideal and allows it to prevail during the poet’s own lifetime. However, he does not stop at this. We recall that the bell in Schiller’s breast “klang und klingt noch” (60), that is, in and around the year 1860.[53] I would suggest that the resonance, or potential resonance, of Schiller’s ideal at this time is the primary reason why Andersen seized the opportunity to contribute to the Schiller-Album and why he chose “Das Lied von der Glocke,” as it were, as a palimpsest. It is also the reason why he introduced the “dansk Element” which he mentions in the commentary to the last edition of the tales and stories published during his lifetime.[54] As his autobiography graphically demonstrates, the Three Years’ War between Denmark and Prussia (1848-1851) had shaken Andersen deeply and remained all too vivid in his mind.[55] Moreover, recent steps taken both sides of the uncertain border, which led among other things to a violent attack on the Danish administration in the Prussian Chamber in 1860, created a climate that boded ill for the future.[56] By shifting attention from Schiller’s Deutschtum to his Weltbürgertum – no-one thinks of the old bell’s homeland – and by juxtaposing him to a Dane of similar conviction, accomplishment, and national prominence, Andersen pleas to Germans as well as his countrymen for tolerance in the spirit of their common cultural values. His ironic treatment of Schiller’s experience at the Karlsschule suggests his general attitude toward armed conflict. His allusion to Wilhelm Tell and Die Jungfrau von Orleans, which he doubtless understood in the current sense of national liberation, represents an idealized call for recognition of the Danish cause, which he felt was just.[57]

During the hostilities with Prussia Andersen was severely criticized by Danes for his refusal to join in the nationalist hatemongering rampant at the time.[58] Since he feared unpopularity more than anything else, writing “Die alte Kirchenglocke” thus reflects self-conquest as much as self-expression. In point of fact he composed a series of “patriotic” poems, one of which, “Danmark, mit Fædreland,” has been called the most beautiful song ever written for Denmark.[59] However, there was no hate in them, or in him, only pride in things Danish, encouragement to fight the good fight and then to exercise mercy, and an undercurrent of deep regret.[60] He once wrote to a young friend, if “I am not fierily Danish enough for you . . . it is probably because I am so ‘just” towards all, but might not this ‘justice” be the very flower of what I call genuinely Danish. . .[61] In the letter published in the Literary Gazette, which, as mentioned earlier, was intended to sway English public opinion in favor of the Danes, Andersen concludes with the following, rhetorically questionable words:

“For the nationalities, their rights; for honest and good men, all prosperity! That is and must be Europe’s watchword, and with it I look trustingly forward. The Germans are an honest, truth-loving people; they will come to see more clearly into our situation, and their enmity will and must be changed into esteem and friendship; may that thought soon come! May God make his countenance to shine over the countries!”[62]

As early as 1845 and then from the fifties on into the seventies he also wrote a substantial number of tales that depict the artistic and scientific contributions to the world made by Danes such as Thorvaldsen and Ørsted as well as by figures from other countries.[63]

Whatever the recorded and unrecorded responses to Andersen’s tale may have been, the Schiller who appears in it was obviously unable to prevail over the Schiller who dominated the minds of Germans (and Danes?) during the mid-to-late nineteenth century, these “Schillers” understood, of course, as symbols of, in important respects, varying cultural assumptions. In 1864 Prussian expansionism consorted for the moment with Austrian conservatism to take advantage of Danish overconfidence and inflexibility and to separate Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark, thereby reducing the country in size and political significance to a shadow of its former self.[64] However, the Schiller in Andersen’s story, who, I would contend, is much closer to the “real” Schiller than his rival, had an undeniable impact on the Dane. “Die alte Kirchenglocke” may well be the only one of Andersen’s works that exhibits an influence in the usual sense of the word. However, I cannot agree with Schmitz that the tale therefore remained a mere “rhetorisches Bekenntnis” and that Schiller was of no significance for Andersen’s writing.[65] All differences of detail and expression notwithstanding, Schiller’s cosmopolitan ideal of humanity and notion of art as the best means of realizing it come to life in Andersen’s thought and writing. In the older poet’s works, not least of all in “Das Lied von der Glocke,” Andersen found a lodestar and sustenance for his own native cosmopolitanism and view of the formative role of art in cultural (as well as personal) life, as evidenced most obviously in “Die alte Kirchen-glocke,” but also in numerous other works as well as in his public and private life. Surely, one is therefore justified in speaking of an authentic relationship between the two men, a relationship more fundamental than one of a purely literary nature.



* Rowland, Herbert. »Confluence and Crosscurrents: Schiller’s “Das Lied von der Glocke” and Hans Christian Andersen’s “Die alte Kirchenglocke”.« MONATSHEFTE, Volume 88, Number 2 (Summer, 1996). Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.

  1. ^ Kurt Wais, “Schillers Wirkungsgeschichte im Ausland,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift 29 (1955): 506-507.
  2. ^ For full bibliographical entries of these works and other information related to Schiller in Russia see Peter Boerner, “Goethe gehört der Welt und Schiller den Deutschen: Reaktionen des Auslands auf die Grossen von Weimar, von Madame de Staël bis zu unserer Zeit,” Unser Commercium: Goethes und Schillers Literaturpolitik, ed. Wilfried Barner, Eberhard Lämmert, and Norbert Oellers, Veröffentlichungen der deutschen Schillergesellschaft 42 (Stuttgart; Cotta, 1984) 590-591 as well as Wais 495-500 and Friedrich Depken, “Schillers Wirkung auf das Ausland,” Muttersprache 70 (1960): 213-216. The bibliography in the Jahrbuch appears in the volumes for 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1991.
  3. ^ For purposes of comparison it is worth noting that Wolfgang Vulpius records 123 entries for the seventy-year period from 1893 to 1963; see Schiller: Bibliographie 1893-1958 (Weimar: Arion Verlag, 1959) 455-472 and Schiller-Bibliographie 1959-1963 (Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag, 1967) 150-159. Wais’s assertion is affirmed by Depken (202), Boerner (590), and, most recently, Lesley Sharpe, Friedrich Schiller: Drama, Thought and Politics (Cambridge; Cambridge UP, 1991) 325. But for a spate of work on Schiller’s influence in Poland recorded in 1991 Russia’s share would be much greater.
  4. ^ The “Schiller-Bibliographie” does not include some of the work used in this study. However, I refer to it here only as a general measure of the research devoted to Schiller’s influence on the North and East.
  5. ^ Vulpius lists only 15 titles for the North, a mere three of them for Denmark. For another source see Barbara Gentikow, Skandinavische und deutsche Literatur: Bibliographie der Schriften zu den literarischen, historischen und kulturgeschichtlichen Wechselbeziehungen. Skandinavistische Studien 3 (Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1975) 178-180.
  6. ^ See, for example, Victor A. Schmitz, Dänische Dichter in ihrer Begegnung mit deutscher Klassik und Romantik, Studien zur Philosophie und Literatur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts 23 (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1974) and Klaus Bohnen, Sven-Aage Jørgensen, and Friedrich Schmöe, Dänische “Guldalder”-Literatur und Goethezeit, Kopenhagener Kolloquien zur deutschen Literatur 6 (Text und Kontext Sonderreihe 14) (Copenhagen and Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1982). Boerner discusses the postwar bias (596-600) as well as Schiller’s immense popularity especially during the first half of the nineteenth century (589-590).
  7. ^ Fred J. Domes Schiller auf der dänischen Bühne (Leipzig and Berlin: B. G. Teubner, 1935) 34 and 36.
  8. ^ See, for example, Louis Bobé, “Schiller und Dänemark.” Euphorion 12 (1905): 151-168; H. G. Topsøe-Jensen’s substantive “Schiller og Oehlenschlæger: Vendepunktet i Oehlenschlægers Digterliv,” Edda 15 (1921): 190-211; and Domes (1935).
  9. ^ In 1721 the Treaty of Nystad officially ended the Great Northern War between Denmark and Sweden and their allies; 1801 witnessed the English attack on the Danish fleet off Copenhagen during the Napoleonic Wars; see Walther Hubatsch, “Die Ruhe des Nordens als Voraussetzung der Adelskultur des dänischen Gesamtstaats,“ Staatsdienst und Menschlichkeit: Studien zur Adelskultur des späten 18. Jahrhunderts in Schleswig-Holstein und Dänemark, ed. Christian Degn and Dieter Lohmeier, Kieler Studien zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte 14 (Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1980) 11-22. Jørgensen writes that the self-confidence of Danes during the eighteenth century was considerable “weil sie zwar in einem absolutistischen Staat lebten, aber in einem, wo dem König die Macht von den Bürgern übertragen und im Königsgesetz (1665) definiert worden war, also nicht als despotische Willkür empfunden wurde, zumal die dänische Regierung unter der Leitung von…. deutschen und dänischen Staatsmännern eine Politik führte, die den Namen “Reformabsolutismus” tatsächlich verdient”; “Klassische Romantik der Dänen”, Europäische Romantik I, ed. Karl Robert Mandelkow, Neues Handbuch der Literaturwissenschaft 14 (Wiesbaden: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1982) 462. According to Thomas Munck “the Danish reformers were able to sustain a more limited but more carefully designed series of legislative interventions which, uniquely in Europe at the time, achieved a workable compromise between seigneurial and peasant interests without destroying the social and political fabric of the state”; “The Danish Reformers,” Enlightened Absolutism: Reform and Reformers in Later Eighteenth-Century Europe, ed. H. M. Scott (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1990) 255.
  10. ^ See Hubatsch and Munck.
  11. ^ See John Wallace Eaton, The German Influence in Danish Literature in the Eighteenth Century: The German Circle in Copenhagen 1750-1770 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1929); Leopold Magon, Ein Jahrhundert geistiger und literarischer Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und Skandinavien: Die Klopstockzeit in Dänemark. Johannes Ewald (Dortmund: Friedrich Wilhelm Ruhfus, 1926); and Klaus Bohnen, Sven-Aage Jørgensen, and Friedrich Schmöe, eds., Deutsch-Dänische Literaturbeziehungen im 18. Jahrhundert, Text und Kontext Sonderreihe 5 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1979).
  12. ^ See Munck 250-253. For an overview of Danish literature in the eighteenth century see P. M. Mitchell, A History of Danish Literature, 2nd ed. (New York: Kraus-Thomson Organization Limited, 1971) 75-104; for Heiberg see 100-101 and Schmitz-1974, 15-16.
  13. ^ See Munck 253-255 and Schmitz-1974, 16 and 37-40.
  14. ^ See Fritz Paul, Grundzüge der neueren skandinavischen Literaturen, Grundzüge 41 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1982)118.
  15. ^ See Paul 124.
  16. ^ 587.
  17. ^ See, for example, Benno von Wiese, Friedrich Schiller (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1963) 297-298 and Schmitz-1974, 37-39.
  18. ^ See Schmitz-1974, 37.
  19. ^ See Mitchell 65. For an overview of Oehlenschlæger’s relationship to Schiller see Schmitz-1974, 62-68.
  20. ^ See Jørgensen 461.
  21. ^ See, for example, Bobé-1905, 162-164.
  22. ^ See Schmitz-1974, 41. For a survey of Danish translations of Schiller’s works see Bobé-1905, 164-165, and Domes 67.
  23. ^ See Bobé-1905, 153-155. Domes asserts that translations were far more instrumental than stage performances in familiarizing Danes with Schiller (36).
  24. ^ For the following I am indebted to Domes 36-37 and 63.
  25. ^ See Domes 37 and Chapters XIII (“National Romanticism and National Liberalism (1814-50)”) and XIV (‘The Struggle for the “Helstat” (1850-64)”) in Stewart Oakley, A Short History of Denmark (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972) 166-189. Sharpe suggests that the decline of idealism also accounts for the decline of Schiller’s popularity abroad (324).
  26. ^ 1974, 41.
  27. ^ Samlede Skrifter, 2nd ed., 15 vols. in 10 (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1876-1880)
  28. ^ The best literary biography in English is probably Elias Bredsdorff, Hans Christian Andersen: The Story of His Life and Work 1805-75 (London: Phaidon Press, 1975). Also see Ivy York Möller-Christensen, Den gyldne Trekant; H.C. Andersens Gennembrud i Tyskland 1831-1850 (Odense: Odense UP, 1992).
  29. ^ See, for example, Victor A. Schmitz, H.C. Andersens Märchendichtung: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der dänischen Spätromantik (Mit Ausblicken auf das deutsche romantische Kunstmärchen) (Nordische Studien 7 (Greifswald: Verlag Ratsbuchhandlung L. Bamberg, 1925) 12.
  30. ^ See my “The Role of Irony in H.C. Andersen’s Nattergalen and C. M. Wieland’s Der Vogelsang,” Anderseniana, Ser. 3 vol IV.2 (1983): 115-130. For Andersen’s notion of progress and religion see, for example, Bredsdorff 226-227 and Frederik Böök, Hans Christian Andersen: A Biography, trans. George C. Schoolfield (Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1962) 143-145 and 209-211.
  31. ^ See Böök 104.
  32. ^ See Louis Bobé, “H.C. Andersen og Weimar,” Anderseniana. Ser. 1 vol. 3 (1940): 57-72. Gentikow records a German version in Le Nord 3 (1940): 5-14 (35).
  33. ^ For this and other information presented here see the entries on Schiller in “Personnavne i dette bind” and in the “Personregister” in volumes XI and XII, respectively, of H.C. Andersens Dagbøger 1825-1875, ed. Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab, 12 vols. (Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gads Forlag, 1971-1977). Andersen also refers to Schiller repeatedly in his autobiography, The Story of My Life, trans. Mary Howitt and Horace Scudder (New York: Hurd and Houghton; Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1871) 53, 195, 213-215, 249, 297, 415-416, 424, 426-427, and 490-491.
  34. ^ See Schiller-Album der Allgemeinen deutschen. National-Lotterie zum Besten der Schiller- und Tiedge-Stiftungen (Dresden: Druck und Verlag der National-Lotterie-Buchdrucke-reien von E. Blockmann & Sohn and Julius Ernst, 1861) and the article on Serre in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, ed. Historische Commission of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 56 vols. (Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1875-1912) 34: 40-41.
  35. ^ See Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe, ed. Julius Petersen et al. 43 vols. planned (Weimar: Böhlau, 1943-) 2 II B: 170.
  36. ^ 572
  37. ^ “Die Nation und Schiller,” Dichter und ihre Nation, ed. Helmut Scheuer, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch 2117 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993) 152.
  38. ^ See Noltenius 158 and Leonard Forster, “A Cool Fresh Look at Schiller’s Das Lied von der Glocke,” Publications of the English Goethe Society 42 (1971-1972): 91 and 96.
  39. ^ See Nationalausgabe 2 II B: 170 and II. C. Andersens Dagbøger I:455 and 4: 138.
  40. ^ Hans A. Kaufmann, Nation und Nationalismus in Schillers Entwurf Deutsche Grösse” und im Schauspiel “Wilhelm Tell”: Zu ihrer kulturpolitischen Funktionalisierung im frühen 20. Jahrhundert, Münchener Studien zur literarischen Kultur in Deutschland 19 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1993) 19.
  41. ^ See Kaufmann 18-19. The author also observes Peter Alter’s distinction between an emancipatory, left-wing nationalism that ended in 1871 and a reactionary nationalism of the twentieth-century sort, though not without reservations even toward the former (25-26).
  42. ^ “Uber den Begriff des “Weltbürgers” und die Vorstellung vom “Weltbürgertum” bei Schiller,” Studien zur deutschen Klassik, Edith Braemer and Ursula Wertheim (Berlin: Rütten and Loening, 1960), especially 116 and 159-162.
  43. ^ 151
  44. ^ The past decade or so has witnessed a substantial amount of work on the (not unproblematic) moral-political dimension of the Ästhetische Briefe. See, for example, Otto W. Johnston, “Schiller und das bourgeoisliberale Programm der Französischen Revolution,” Verlorene Klassik ? Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1986) 328-352; Walter H. Sokel, “Die politische Funktion botschaftsloser Kunst: Zum Verhältnis von Politik und Ästhetik in Schillers Briefen “Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen,” and Dieter Borchmeyer, “Ästhetische und politische Autonomie: Schillers “Ästhetische Briefe” im Gegenlicht der Französischen Revolution,” Revolution und Autonomie: Deutsche Autonomieästhetik im Zeitalter der Französischen Revolution. Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1990) 264-276 and 277-296, respectively; and Bernd Fischer, “Realistischer Idealismus als Kulturpolitik: Schillers Briefe Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen,” Geist und Gesellschaft: Zur deutschen Rezeption der Französischen Revolution, ed. Eitel Timm (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1990) 37-48. For a recent “non-nationalistic” reading of the two plays mentioned see Sharpe 272-282 and 293-309.
  45. ^ Oellers writes, “viel deutlicher als in den “Worten des Glaubens” ergreift Schiller zwei Jahre später im “Lied von der Glocke” Partei, wobei Gesagtes und Gemeintes eindeutig sind” and then quotes lines 349-356 and 361-364, which begin, “Wo rohe Kräfte sinnlos walten,/Da kann sich kein Gebild gestalten,/Wenn sich die Völker selbst befrein, / Da kann die Wohlfarth nicht gedeihn…”; “Schiller-Gedichte als versifizierte Geschichte,” Literatur und Geschichte 1788-1988, ed. Gerhard Schulz, Tim Mehigan, and Marion Adams, Australisch-Neuseeländische Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur 15 (Bern: Peter Lang, 1990) 33.
  46. ^ Nationalausgabe 2 I: 239, 238.
  47. ^ 9.
  48. ^ The Danish original was first published in the Folkekalender for Danmark  for 1862, which came out in 1861; see H.C. Andersens Eventyr, ed. Erik Dal, Erling Nielsen, and Flemming Hovmann, 7 vols. (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzels Forlag, 1963-1990) 7: 310. The German translation (by an unknown translator) is largely faithful to the original, deviations being limited to omissions of a word or words and substitutions of one word for another. The only one creating a change of meaning involves the use of ‘jung” for “fin” in the description of the parents of youth attending the Karlsschule – a substitution which has no bearing on the sense of the story; see H.C. Andersens Eventyr 5: 24 and Schiller-Album 59. Future references to the story will appear in the text in parentheses.
  49. ^ “Doch mit des Geschickes Mächten / Ist kein ew’ger Bund zu flechten” (Nationalausgabe 2 I: 231).
  50. ^ The reviews appeared in Flyveposten on December 20th, 1861, and in Dagbladet on December 22nd of the same year. See H.C. Andersens Eventyr 6: 210.
  51. ^ For an informed recent opinion on which stories constitute Andersen’s best see Sven H. Rossel, “Introduction: Hans Christian Andersen’s Life and Authorship, “Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, translated and with an introduction by Patricia L. Conroy and Sven H. Rossel (Seattle: U of Washington P, 1988), xxv-xxvi.
  52. ^ Nationalausgabe 2.1, 238.
  53. ^ Andersen wrote the tale around the end of March, 1860, and sent it to Serre on April 23rd; see H.C. Andersens Eventyr 7:310-311.
  54. ^ Samlede Skrifter 15:309.
  55. ^ See The Story of My Life, especially 332-342. In another passage he quotes from a letter written to H. C. Ørsted, the discoverer of electromagnetism and a longtime protector and friend: “Eight long days I have not been able to do anything – I am so overwhelmed, I forget the victory of our brave soldiers when I think of all those young men who have sacrificed their lives; I knew several of them” (375). Andersen also reports celebrating the dearly bought victory at Fredericia (1849) in 1859 and encountering enmity toward Denmark during a visit to Rendsburg, located on the border between Schleswig and Holstein, in 1860 (437-438 and 452, respectively).
  56. ^ For an overview of developments from 1848 to 1864 see, for example, J. H. S. Birch, Denmark in History (London: John Murray, 1938) 337-369, especially 349.
  57. ^ As part of an attempt to gain English support for the Danes’ struggle against Prussia Andersen was asked by a government official in 1848 to defend Denmark in the English press, where he was known and read. In a letter published in the Literary Gazette and reprinted in his autobiography he writes, “At the present time the storms of change sweep through the countries, but the one above all of them, the righteous God, does not change! He is for Denmark, – that great Will which is right, and which shall and must be acknowledged; truth is the victorious power of all people and nations” (The Story of My Life 336).
  58. ^ See Signe Toksvig, The Life of Hans Christian Andersen (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1934) 237.
  59. ^ Samlede Skrifter 12: 334-342 and 337; Toksvig 238.
  60. ^ Andersen’s troubled relationship with Archduke Carl Alexander of Weimar perhaps best demonstrates the depth of the distress he experienced due to the war; see Bredsdorff 224-226.
  61. ^ Quoted according to Toksvig 238.
  62. ^ The Story of My Life 336.
  63. ^ Among these are Holger the Dane, The Swan ’s Nest, The Millenium, The Thorny Path of Honor, The Two Brothers, Godfather’s Picture Book, and Great-Grandfather.
  64. ^ The rapid and crushing defeat of Danish forces had an even greater effect on Andersen than the trials of the Three Years’ War. In The Story of My Life he writes, “I lost, for the moment, my hold of God, and felt myself as wretched as a man can be. Days followed in which I cared for nobody, and I believed nobody cared for me,” and calls 1864 “the darkest, gloomiest year of my life” (501 and 503, respectively). For his entire account of the year see 495-503.
  65. ^ 1974, 42.


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