His ballads were very popular in Germany. His most noted ballad, Lenore , found an audience beyond readers of the German language in an English and Russian adaptation and a French translation. He was born in Molmerswende now a part of Mansfeld , Principality of Halberstadt , where his father was the Lutheran pastor. He showed an early predilection for solitary and gloomy places and the making of verses, for which he had no other model than hymnals. He learned Latin with difficulty.
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In the 18th century there were more than eighteen hundred different German-speaking political entities in Central Europe. During this period, due to influences from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment , Latin and French dominated over the German language , and German literature had mostly been modelled after French and Italian literature. These factors lead few scholars to recognize the existence of a distinct German culture or literature. In order to gain acknowledgement for the German language and thus acquire a distinctively German literary tradition from which it would be possible to get a sense of nationality, philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder believed that it was necessary to preserve German idioms , for they are the element that gives a language its idiosyncrasies and distinguishes it from other languages: .
The idioms are the elegances of which no neighbor can deprive us and they are sacred to the tutelary goddess of the language. They are the elegances woven into the spirit of the language, and this spirit is destroyed if they are taken out.
The idioms of every language are the impressions of its country, its nationality, its history. After reading Reliques of Ancient English Poetry by Thomas Percy and James Macpherson 's Ossianic poems , Herder thought the means through which Germany could create a unique literature of its own would be to collect folk songs among the lower classes of Germany: .
It will remain eternally true that if we have no Volk , we shall have no public, no nationality, no literature of our own which shall live and work in us. Unless our literature is founded on our Volk , we shall write eternally for closet sages and disgusting critics out of whose mouths and stomachs we shall get back what we have given.
After they depart, the young maid returns home and is informed by her father that her lover had in fact died, whereupon he goes to the young man's grave and digs up the bones, finding that his daughter's handkerchief is tied around the skull. Ever since he had gone to battle in the army of King Frederick , Lenore has been impatiently worrying about William every day and longing for his return, but she has not heard any news from him. When the other warriors return from the war without William, she begins to quarrel with God , complaining about His unfairness and proclaiming that He has never done her any good, which prompts her mother to ask for her daughter's forgiveness because she knows that such a thought is blasphemous and will condemn her to Hell.
Lenore's mother also suggests that William probably found another woman in Hungary , and that Lenore should forget him. At midnight, a mysterious stranger who looks like William knocks on the door searching for Lenore and asks her to accompany him on horseback to their marriage bed. Lenore happily gets on the stranger's black steed and the two ride at a frenetic pace, under the moonlight, along a path filled with eerie landscapes.
Terrorised, Lenore demands to know why they are riding so fast, to which he responds that they are doing so because "the dead travel fast" "die Todten reiten schnell". At sunrise, their journey ends and they arrive at the cemetery's doors.
As the horse goes through the tombstones, the knight begins to lose its human appearance, and is revealed as Death , a skeleton with a scythe and an hourglass. The marriage bed is shown to be the grave where, together with his shattered armour, William's skeleton lies. The ground beneath Lenore's feet begins to crumble and the spirits, dancing in the moonlight , surround dying Lenore, declaring that "no one is to quarrel with God in Heaven" "mit Gott im Himmel hadre nicht".
Lenore had a profound effect on the development of Romantic literature throughout Europe  and a strong influence on the English ballad-writing revival of the s. The eerie tramp of the ghostly horse which carries Lenore to her doom re-echoed in every literature, and to many a young sensitive soul was the revelation of a new world of poetry.
In a similar tone, English literature scholar Marti Lee claims that: . In , when he had finally received one, he was so impressed by it that he made his own rendering, William and Helen , in less than a day. Scott's version was passed from hand to hand, and was extremely well received. Shelley biographer Charles S. A tale of such beauty and terror might well have kindled his lively imagination".
The verse die Todten Reiten schnell "The dead travel fast" is also particularly famous for being cited by Bram Stoker in the first chapter of his novel Dracula Joachim Raff 's Symphony No. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Oxford Companion to German Literature. United States: Oxford University Press.
Durham, N. The Vampire, His Kith and Kin. Forgotten Books. Retrieved Journal of the History of Ideas. A history of German literature.
Archived from the original on Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. An Apology for Tales of Terror. The Walter Scott Digital Archive. Reviewing before the Edinburgh, — University of Delaware Press. University of Ljubljana. Alexander Bestuzhevmarlinsky. Penn State Press. Centro Virtual Cervantes. The vampire, his kith and kin.
British Weekly. Bram Stoker, Chapter 1. Joachim Raff Society. The Songs of Henri Duparc. Brewster Press. The Liszt companion. Musik und Gender im Internet in German. Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature, vol.
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Studia Fennica Folkloristica Categories : German-language literature German literature Gothic fiction.
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When he wrote it he supposed it to be a spirited and a good translation: I supposed the same, and continued to be extremely familiar with it for some years ensuing. After a certain space of time my brother neglected the performance, and it dropped entirely out of his thoughts. I heard no more of it, and probably never, after or some such date, set eyes upon any manuscript or any portion of it. No such manuscript was in my brother's possession at the date of his death, April At last one of the few copies which in he made of the translation has turned up. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, on November 26th, , and was there bought by Mr.