Nikolaus Lenau

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Lenau, Nikolaus


(pseudonym of Franz Niembsch von Strehlenau). Born Aug. 13, 1802, in Csatád, Hungary; died Aug. 22, 1850, in Oberdöbling, near Vienna. Austrian poet. Came from a family of impoverished nobility. Studied medicine, agronomy, and law.

Characteristic of Lenau’s lyrics—Poems (1832), New Poems (1838), and Poems (1844)—are philosophical generalization, metaphorical and rhythmic richness, and closeness of the form to German and Hungarian folk poetry. By its social-philosophical orientation, Lenau’s civic and genre poetry approaches the romanticism of Byron and H. Heine; motifs idolizing nature are strong. In the narrative poem Faust (1836), Lenau showed the drama of the thinker incapable of creative activity. Religious skepticism resounds in the narrative poem Savonarola (1837). The moods of Austrian revolutionary democracy of the 1830’s and 1840’s are expressed in the narrative poems Jan Žižka (1837–42) and The Albigensians (1842). In Russia, Lenau’s poems were translated by F. I. Tiutchev, A. A. Fet, M. L. Mikhailov, A. N. Pleshcheev, K. D. Bal’mont, and A. V. Lunacharskii.


Sämtliche Werke und Briefe. Edited by H. Engelhardt. Stuttgart, 1959.
Rebell in dunkler Nacht. Berlin [1952].
Briefwechsel: Unveröffentliches und Unbekanntes. Vienna, 1969.
In Russian translation:
Faust. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Stikhotvoreniia, Ian Zhizhka: Poema. Translated from German by V. Levik. Moscow, 1956.


Mehring, F. Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Lunacharskii, A. V. “N. Lenau i ego filosofskie poemy.” Sobr. soch., vol. 5. Moscow, 1965.
Vil’iam-Vil’mont, N. “Nikolaus Lenau.” Internatsional’naia literatura, 1939, no. 11.
Turóczi-Trostler, J. Lenau. Berlin, 1961.
Statkov, D. N. Lenaus poetische Welt. Bonn, 1971. (With bibliography.)


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The text for Liszt's Der traurige Monch (The Sad Monk) was written by Nicolaus Lenau, the well-known Austrian poet of Weltschmerz.