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Pitt Press Series.
EDITED WITH NOTES
A. SCHLOTTMANN, PH.D.
EDITED FOR THE SYNDICS OF THE UNIVERSITY PRESS,
[All Rights nerud
WILHELM HAUFF was born at Stuttgart, Nov. 29th, 1802. Like many men who distinguished themselves in after-life, he did not betray any prominent talents when at school. But he was an insatiable reader of novels and historical works. This passion no doubt interfered with his regular school-work; but on the other hand it supplied him with a vast amount of useful knowledge and developed those powers of observation which are apparent in his writings. After having gone through the usual course of philological and theological studies at Tübingen, he accepted a place as tutor in a nobleman's family, spent a short time in travelling and then settled in his native town as editor of a literary magazine, the Morgenblatt, but died before he had completed his 25th year, Nov. 18th, 1827. His short life was indeed, as Uhland says, “a rich spring which had no autumn allowed it.” During the three years preceding his death he developed an extraordinary fertility. His works comprise poems, an historical novel, Lichtenstein, several shorter tales (Novellen), of which two particularly deserve mention : Die Bettlerin vom Pont des Arts and Das Bild des Kaisers, Märchen, and an excellent humorous story (Heyse calls it “a classic capriccio”), Die Phantasien im Bremer Rathskeller. Hauff belongs to the so-called Romantic School. As a lyrical poet he does not occupy a prominent place; but two of his songs at all events, Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht and
Morgenroth, are still known and sung all over Germany. His talent as a narrator is of a very high order. Without being distinguished by great originality-Lichtenstein, for instance, is confessedly an imitation of Walter Scott's historical novels—he commands our interest by a rich imagination, by vivid descriptions and a careful delineation of character, which, however, at times betrays his rather limited knowledge of the world. Speaking of the Märchenalmanach, the first collection of stories and fairy tales, G. Schwab, Hauff's biographer, says: “None of his later productions bear so distinctly the impress of a genuine poetical talent as these Märchen. The material of most of them is not his own; but his imagination moulds this material with perfect freedom and yet remains always under the control of his artistic feeling. In this respect the Märchen occupy the very first place among his works.” But what pleases us still more is a certain youthful freshness and an amiable, cheerful view of life, apparent in all his writings, especially in his Märchen. His style is correct on the whole, though now and then rather weak and diffuse, and not free from little inaccuracies. The Märchen abound in excellent idiomatic expressions and phrases, many of them of a conversational or familiar character ; they are therefore particularly useful to the foreign student of the German language.