Stefan George

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George, Stefan

 

Born July 12, 1868, in Büdesheim; died Dec. 4, 1933, in Locarno. German poet and one of the prominent representatives of German symbolism.

During the 1890’s, George was the head of a literary circle, and in 1899 he founded the journal Blätter für die Kunst. In his collections Hymns (1890), Pilgrimage (1891), The Books of the Shepherds (1895), and The Year of the Soul (1897), which embodied certain ideas of Nietzsche, George celebrated the secret forces of nature and exceptional heroes. Later George strove for a poetic affirmation of absolute moral values (the collections The Seventh Ring, 1907, and Southern Star, 1914). The collections War (1917) and Three Songs (1921) evince the influence of expressionism. George’s style was characterized by extremely complex syntax and abundant archaic images; even his orthography was original. His mystical moods and cult of self-sufficient heroism (for example, the collection The New Reich, 1928) enabled bourgeois reactionaries to use George’s poems for their own slogans. But George himself rejected fascism and emigrated; he even left orders that he not be buried in Germany.

WORKS

Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1-18. Berlin, 1927-34.
Werke, vols. 1-2. Munich-Düsseldorf, 1958.
In Russian translation:
Sovremennye nemetskie poety v perevodakh V. El’snera. Moscow, 1913.

REFERENCES

Iz novoi nemetskoi liriki: Perevody i kharakteristiki G. Zabezhinskogo. Berlin, 1921. Pages 73-77.
Brodersen, A. Stephan George. Berlin, 1935.
Bennett, E. K. Stefan George. Cambridge, 1954.
Schultz, H. S. Studien zur Dichtung Stefan Georges. Heidelberg [1967].
Zweig, A. Essays, vol. 1. Berlin, 1959.

L. Z. KOPELEV