Are you looking for a competent and inspiring speaker for your event or workshop on this topic? more

Thank you Germany: Part 081: Hölderlin has it all


The poet Hölderlin is one of the very special events in German literary history. He was initially productively active in the first phase of his life. After the failure of the French Revolution and a private relationship, Hölderlin withdrew into an enclosed inner life. He went mad and spent the second half of his life in mental derangement in a tower in the town of Tübingen. A family took care of the poet here and also kept his records. It is a stroke of luck that she did so. Today, literary studies are interested in both Hölderlin’s early poems and his late work.

It has long since ceased to be possible to speak only of a Hölderlin gone mad. Some researchers suspect that Hölderlin was just as disappointed by the course of the French Revolution as he was by a personal relationship. He was employed as a private tutor by a Frankfurt family. Here he fell unhappily in love with the lady of the house. The relationship could not have lasted long. Whether it was really a case of mental derangement or a deliberate retreat into the inner world is a matter of critical debate. In fact, of his former roommates in his student days, Hölderlin was the only one who remained loyal to the revolutionary views of the French Jacobins. At the Studienstift in Tübingen, Hölderlin shared a room with the philosophers Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. The trio developed important ideas that were to establish German Idealism. There is also much dispute about the authorship of these thoughts. Some attribute them to Hegel, others see Hölderlin as their founder. In any case, the friendship of the three comrades established a groundbreaking philosophy.

Hölderlin was only discovered as a poet later – and by a circuitous route. First, he was appropriated by the National Socialists. The word Vaterland appears in some of his poems. The Nazi state gave these texts to the soldiers to take with them. However, Hölderlin was not a nationalist. His fatherland was not Germany either, but rather ancient Greece. For a long time, people did not know what to do with the disturbing texts from the second half of his life. It was not until the 1960s that Hölderlin was rediscovered. Dietrich Eberhard Sattler’s edition of his works prepared the ground for this. It provided for an open confrontation with a revolutionary Hölderlin who had not gone mad.

Even if there may be different opinions about this controversy, the confrontation with the work of the world-famous poet offers a valuable cultural asset in any case. In many countries of the world, his special story is as highly regarded as his writings. In Tübingen, Hölderlin’s tower can be visited on site. Today it houses a small museum that attracts many visitors. They want to visit the place where the poet spent the second half of his life. In Tübingen, this very place can be found in the middle of a beautiful town full of half-timbered houses. The city’s university and the lively intellectual life of the present have not forgotten the old inhabitant from the past. Again and again, congresses are held here at which Hölderlin’s complex literary work is discussed anew.

Last updated on 6. February 2023

How helpful was this post?

Click on the stars to rate!

Average rating 4.6 / 5. 304

No reviews yet! Be the first to rate this post.

Teilen Sie es in Ihren Sozialen Kanälen:
Jetzt unverbindlich anrufen