Ludwig Tieck

Ludwig Tieck

Johann Ludwig Tieck (May 31, 1773 – April 28, 1853) was a German poet, translator, editor, novelist, writer of Novellen, and critic, who was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


Early life

Tieck was born in Berlin, the son of a rope-maker. He was educated at the Friedrich-Werdersche Gymnasium, and at the universities of Halle, Göttingen and Erlangen. At Göttingen, he studied Shakespeare and the Elizabethan drama.

In 1794 he returned to Berlin, and attempted to make a living by writing. He contributed a number of short stories (1795–1798) to the series of Straussfedern, published by the bookseller C. F. Nicolai and originally edited by J. K. A. Musäus, and wrote Abdallah (1796) and a novel in letters, William Lovell (3 vols. 1795–1796).

Adoption of Romanticism

Tieck's transition to Romanticism is seen in the series of plays and stories published under the title Volksmärchen von Peter Lebrecht (3 vols., 1797), a collection which contains the admirable fairy-tale Der blonde Eckbert, which seamlessly blends exploration of the paranoiac mind with the realm of the supernatural, and the witty dramatic satire on Berlin literary taste, Der gestiefelte Kater. With his school and college friend Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder (1773–1798), he planned the novel Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (vols. i–ii. 1798), which, with Wackenroder's Herzensergiessungen (1798), was the first expression of the romantic enthusiasm for old German art.

In 1798 Tieck married and in the following year settled in Jena, where he, the two brothers August and Friedrich Schlegel and Novalis were the leaders of the new Romantic school. His writings between 1798 and 1804 include the satirical drama, Prinz Zerbino (1799), and Romantische Dichtungen (2 vols., 1799–1800). The latter contains Tieck's most ambitious dramatic poems, Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva, Leben und Tod des kleinen Rotkäppchens, which were followed in 1804 by the remarkable "comedy" in two parts, Kaiser Oktavianus. These dramas, in which Tieck's poetic powers are to be seen at their best, are typical plays of the first Romantic school; although formless, and destitute of dramatic qualities, they show the influence of both Calderón and Shakespeare. Kaiser Oktavianus is a poetic glorification of the Middle Ages.

In 1801 Tieck went to Dresden, then lived for a time at Ziebingen near Frankfurt (Oder), and spent many months in Italy. In 1803 he published a translation of Minnelieder aus der schwäbischen Vorzeit, between 1799 and 1804 an excellent version of Don Quixote, and in 1811 two volumes of Elizabethan dramas, Altenglisches Theater. From 1812 to 1817 he collected in three volumes a number of his earlier stories and dramas, under the title Phantasus. In this collection appeared the stories Der Runenberg, Die Elfen, Der Pokal, and the dramatic fairy tale, Fortunat.

In 1817 Tieck visited England in order to collect materials for a work on Shakespeare (unfortunately never finished) and in 1819 he settled permanently in Dresden; from 1825 on he was literary adviser to the Court Theatre, and his semi-public readings from the dramatic poets gave him a reputation which extended far beyond the Saxon capital. The new series of short stories which he began to publish in 1822 also won him a wide popularity. Notable among these are Die Gemälde, Die Reisenden, Die Verlobung, and Des Lebens Überfluss.

More ambitious and on a wider canvas are the historical or semi-historical novels, Dichterleben (1826), Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen (1826, unfinished), Der Tod des Dichters (1834); Der junge Tischlermeister (1836; but begun in 1811) is an excellent story written under the influence of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister; Vittoria Accorombona (1840), the story of Vittoria Accoramboni written in the style of the French Romanticists, shows a falling-off.

Later years

In later years Tieck carried on a varied literary activity as critic (Dramaturgische Blätter, 2 vols., 1825–1826; Kritische Schriften, 2 vols., 1848); he also edited the translation of Shakespeare by August Wilhelm Schlegel, who was assisted by Tieck's daughter Dorothea (1790–1841) and by Wolf Heinrich, Graf von Baudissin (1789–1878); Shakespeares Vorschule (2 vols., 1823–1829); the works of Heinrich von Kleist (1826) and of Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1828). In 1841 Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia invited him to Berlin where he enjoyed a pension for his remaining years. He died on 28 April 1853 in Berlin.

Literary significance

Tieck's importance lay in the readiness with which he adapted himself to the emerging new ideas which arose at the close of the 18th century, as well as being a trailblazer in his own right with Romantic works such as der blonde Eckbert. His importance in German poetry, however, is restricted to his early period. In later years it was as the helpful friend and adviser of others, or as the well-read critic of wide sympathies, that Tieck distinguished himself.

Tieck also influenced Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser. It was from Phantasus that Wagner based the idea of Tannhäuser going to see the pope and Elisabeth dying in the song battle.


Tieck's Schriften appeared in twenty vols. (1828–1846), and his Gesammelte Novellen in twelve (1852–1854). Nachgelassene Schriften were published in two vols. in 1855. There are several editions of Ausgewählte Werke by H. Welti (8 vols., 1886–1888); by J. Minor (in Kirschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur, 144, 2 vols., 1885); by G. Klee (with an excellent biography, 3 vols., 1892), and G. Witkowski (4 vols., 1903) and Marianne Thalmann (4 vols., 1963–66).


The Elves and The Goblet was translated by Carlyle in German Romance (1827), The Pictures and The Betrothal by Bishop Thirlwall (1825). A translation of Vittoria Accorombona was published in 1845. A translation of Des Lebens Überfluss (Life's Luxuries, by E. N. Bennett) appeared in German Short Stories in the Oxford University Press World's Classics series in 1934, but the wit of the original comes over more strongly in The Superfluities of Life. A Tale Abridged from Tieck, which appeared anonymously in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine in February 1845. The Journey into the Blue Distance (das Alte Buch: oder Reise ins Blaue hinein, 1834). "The Romance of Little Red Riding Hood" (1801) was translated by Jack Zipes and included in his book "The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood."


Tieck's Letters have been published at various locations:

  • Ludwig Tieck und die Brüder Schlegel. Briefe ed. by Edgar Lohner (München 1972)
  • Briefe an Tieck were published in 4 vols. by K. von Holtei in 1864.

See also


  • Roger Paulin: Ludwig Tieck, 1985 (German) (Slg. Metzler M 185, 1987; German translation, 1988)
  • Kertz-Welzel, Alexandra. Die Transzendenz der Gefühle. Beziehungen zwischen Musik und Gefühl bei Wackenroder/Tieck und die Musikästhetik der Romantik. Saarbrücker Beiträge zur Literaturwissenschaft, no. 71. Ph.D. Dissertation (Saarbrücken, Germany: Universität des Saarlandes, 2000). St. Ingbert, Germany: Röhrig Universitätsverlag, 2001. ISBN 3-86110-278-1.


  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Tieck, Johann Ludwig". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This work in turn cites:
    • R. Köpke, Ludwig Tieck (2 vols., 1855) Tieck's earlier life.
    • H. von Friesen, Ludwig Tieck: Erinnerungen (2 vols., 1871) Dresden period.
    • A. Stern, Ludwig Tieck in Dresden (Zur Literatur der Gegenwart, 1879)
    • J. Minor, Tieck als Novellendichter (1884)
    • B. Steiner, L. Tieck und die Volksbücher (1893)
    • H. Bischof, Tieck als Dramaturg (1897)
    • W. Miessner, Tiecks Lyrik (1902)

External links

Media related to Ludwig Tieck at Wikimedia Commons

Quotations related to Ludwig Tieck at Wikiquote

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