Birthday: May 2, 1772
Died At Age: 28
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg
Born in: Oberwiederstedt, Electorate of Saxony, Germany
Famous as: Philosopher & Poet
Quotes By Novalis
father: Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus Freiherr von Hardenberg (1738–1814)
mother: Auguste Bernhardine von Böltzig (1749–1818)
Died on: March 25, 1801
place of death: Weißenfels, Germany
Cause of Death: Tuberculosis
education: Lutheran grammar school Eisleben
Who was Novalis?
Novalis was amongst the most renowned poet, author and philosophers of the early German romanticism era. Mostly known to the world by his pseudonym of Novalis, Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg gave a deep insight of all subjects and made significant contributions in the field of aesthetics and philosophy of art in his short life of 28 years. His works have touched various issues such as epistemology, moral theory, political philosophy, problems of interpretation, philosophy of history, philosophy of religion, and so on. His theories and work greatly influenced the later Romantic thought. Novalis was widely read and equipped himself with knowledge in all sorts of subjects’ right from science, law, philosophy, politics and political economy. It was the notes that he made on his field of knowledge that he later used to draw connection and provide an encyclopaedic overview of art, religion and science. In his short existence, he lived to see only a couple of his works being published. It was posthumously that many of his works, some of which were unfinished while some were compiled from the notes that he made, were published.
Childhood & Early Life
Novalis was born as Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg at Oberwiederstedt manor, in the Harz Mountains to Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus Freiherr von Hardenberg and Auguste Bernhardine von B�ltzig.
His father was an avid follower of pietism and a member of the Moravian (Herrnhuter) Church. He was the second of the eleven children born to the couple.
Coming from Low German nobility, he was christened Georg Philipp Friedrich in the church. It was later on that he took on the pseudonym Novalis from ‘de Novali’ a name that his family formerly used.
He was initially home schooled by private tutors. It was only later that he attended the Lutheran grammar school in Eisleben, learning rhetoric and ancient literature.
From 1790, he studied law at the University of Jena. It was there that he befriended Friedrich von Schiller. He then moved to Leipzig for studies where he became acquainted with Friedrich von Schlegel. Schlegel first introduced him to the philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte.
He finally completed his studies from Wittenberg in 1794. Other people that he met and became friends with during his educational journey were Goethe, Herder, Jean Paul, Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
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In 1794, he started working as an actuary for August Coelestin Just, who was his friend and superior. He worked there for two years until January 1796 when he took up the position of an auditor for the Saxon government saltworks at Weissenfels.
Meanwhile, from 1795 to 1796, he underwent a detailed analysis of the scientific doctrine of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who changed his view and thinking. He carried Fichte’s work and doctrine further by transforming the latter’s view and hence laying the foundation for his Liebesreligion, religion of love.
In 1797, circumventing from the deep emotional loss of his fianc�e, he got himself enrolled at the Mining Academy of Frieberg in Saxony. It was there that he befriended Professor Abraham Gottlob Werner who in turn trained him in the study of geology.
At Frieberg, he guided himself to learn a number of subjects such as mining, mathematics, chemistry, biology, history and philosophy. It was while studying these subjects that he collected material for his famous encyclopaedia projects.
His first ever written matter was published in 1798 in the Athen�um magazine under the title, ‘Bl�thenstaub’ (Pollen). It was for this publication that he for the first time used his pseudonym, ‘Novalis’.
In the same year, he came up with his second publication, which was titled ‘Glauben and Liebe’ (Faith and Love). The work much like his first publication attempted to unite poetry, philosophy and science.
The following year, i.e. in 1799, he not just met Ludwig Tieck but other authors of the Jena Romanticism. Meanwhile, he did not give up on his work at the Weissenfels and worked in the management of salt mines.
Later the same year, he was promoted to the position of an assessor and the director of the salt mines. In 1800, he was appointed as the Supernumerar-Amtshauptmann for the district of Thuringia, a position which is equivalent to the present-day magistrate.
In 1800, he penned a six prose poem interspersed with verse, entitled, ‘Hymnen an die Nacht’. Through it, he expressed his deep embedded grief and sorrow after the death of his fianc�e Sophie. He worked on theme of life and death which according to him were entwined concepts. The work is today considered as the most important poetry of the German early Romanticism.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1794, he first met Sophie von K�hn and fell in love with her. The following year in March, when Kuhn turned thirteen, they were formally engaged to marry.
Tragedy struck the life of the much-in-love couple as Sophie, who was suffering from tuberculosis, breathed her last in March 1979. He was flabbergasted and went into a state of mourning and suffering.
Recovering from his loss, he got engaged to Julie von Charpentier in December 1798. She was the daughter of Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Toussaint von Charpentier, a professor in Freiberg
In August 1799, he was struck with tuberculosis. After months of enduring the pain of the disease, he breathed his last on March 25, 1801 in Weissenfels. He was buried in the old cemetery
While some of his works such as Pollen, Faith and Love and Hymns to the Night were published during his life, his unfinished novels such as ‘Heinrich von Ofterdingen’ and ‘The Novices at Sais’ were published posthumously.
His unfinished political speech and essay ‘Die Christenheit oder Europa’ (Christendom or Europe) was published posthumously.
His notes from 1798 to 1799 were collected and later clubbed to form the work, ‘Das allgemeine Brouillon’ which is published in English as ‘Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia’. The notes drew a connection in the sense of encyclopaedic overview of art, religion and science.