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Title: Am Rande des Sagbaren: Rainer Maria Rilkes Sonette an Orpheus, Hugo von Hofmannsthal und der deutsche Stimmungsbegriff
Authors: Hadley, Spencer
Advisors: Wegmann, Nikolaus
Department: German
Class Year: 2018
Abstract: The concept of “Stimmung” is a singularly German concept, famously untranslatable. There are three aspects of this untranslatability: 1) “Stimmung” contains a multitude of meanings that no single word in any other language can adequately express; 2) “Stimmung” has been a central subject of discourse in Literature, Art, and Philosophy in the German-speaking world over the past two centuries, and as such, is a uniquely German cultural product; 3) “Stimmung” is a phenomenon concerned with aesthetic experience, a phenomenon that cannot be seen, but felt, and therefore resists distillation into theoretical language, or language in general, for that matter. “Stimmung” can be broadly defined as a significant feeling evoked by a work of art that cannot be condensed into one single feeling, in the sense of a vibe, a mood or an atmosphere. Historically, “Stimmung” has been linked to the unseen and the inconcrete, generally, and music, meteorological atmosphere and natural landscape, particularly. Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus will serve as the focal point in this essay in order to understand the phenomenon of “Stimmung” and its potentiality in works of art. This essay makes the claim that “Stimmung”, especially “Stimmung” as understood by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in his late 19th and early 20th century writings, is absolutely central to Rilke's Sonnets, a claim that has until now been absent from both the scholarly discourse about “Stimmung” and the critical literature about Rilke, both of which has previously only discussed “Stimmung” in conjunction with Rilke's earlier work. This essay therefore postulates a sort of symbiosis between the Sonnets and the concept of “Stimmung”. In this spirit of symbiosis, this essay investigates a number of intersecting relationships: Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus and “Stimmung”, Hofmannsthal and “Stimmung”, Rilke and Hofmannsthal, and finally, “Stimmung” in the Sonnets to Orpheus and the reader.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: de
Appears in Collections:German, 1958-2022

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