- Paperback: 129 pages
- Publisher: Archipelago (June 13, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0974968056
- ISBN-13: 978-0974968056
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 5.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Novices of Sais: With illustrations by Paul Klee Paperback – Deckle Edge, June 13, 2005
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The Novices of Sais is a kaleidoscope of interpretations, visions and allegories of nature . . . a transfiguration of the commonplace, giving "the ordinary a mysterious countenance, the known the dignity of the unknown. —Ross Benjamin, The Nation
There are two poets at work in the body of this mysterious and transporting book, one using language, the other line. And what an intriguing, epoch-spanning duet they form . . . Klee’s complex, lovely, whimsical, and enigmatic drawings evince a profound affinity for Novalis and add dimension to the intricate text, while Novalis’s fable provides a provocative context for Klee’s images. —Donna Seaman, Speakeasy
In his brief 29 years on earth, Novalis asked the questions heard in age- old mystery schools and his poems and poetic thinking lifted the inner life of the modern soul to new dominions. He is a founding spirit for the works of the likes of Rilke, Hesse, Heidegger and Celan, among many others, and this grand meditation on Nature reveals him at his finest. —Jack Hirschman
About the Author
Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) is one of the great pillars of German Romanticism. He is perhaps best known for his volume of poetry Hymns to the Night and his novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen —where his elusive "blue flower" was planted. He died at the age of 29 in 1801. Ralph Manheim was one of the great translators of the 20th century. He translated the works of Günter Grass, Bertolt Brecht, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and Hermann Hesse, among others. The PEN/ Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation is a major lifetime achievement award in the field of translation.
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The drawings by Klee are masterful, making the slightly depressing turn of the narrative and dialogue ultimately compensated-for.
I would advise reading the first half of the book, and then just 'reading the artworks'.
The first half of the book---indeed, the whole book, is inventive and original. But I was most impressed with the earlier part of the writing. However, the drawings are impressive throughout.
To give you any idea, I have used a logo based on some small details in one of the drawings as my motif for the Dimensional Encyclopedia.
Novalis' writing is, in my opinion, not as philosophical as Philosophical Writings (by Novalis), but definitely worth-owning for those that like his particular brand of intelligence.
The translation is obviously not bad, and must be doing some kind of justice to the original.
I was aware of *The Novices of Sais* long before it was published in translation by archipelago. I vainly searched for out of print translations. I e-mailed someone at Dedalus, asking them to publish a translation. (Dedalus does much important German lit.) So, as I've liked to claim about other German works that appear in print now in the U.S., I feel I conjured this translation.
The work is poetic. It goes into the difficult, antithetical aspect of human reason, and how to deal with that problem. Both naturalism and antinaturalism are embraced.
There is a passage that could very well have inspired Wagner's notion of gesamptkunstwerke. "...he heard, saw, touched and thought at once."
He is fleshing out Goethe's naturalism. As God mellows with time (and disappears); nature mellows--
"...then the sun will lay down her harsh scepter."
Caves are important in *The Novices*, as they are in *Heinrich von Ofterdingen*. They are tranformation places; alchemical transformations take place there. (In Hermann Broch's *The Spell*--the mine) Metals were thought to grow underground through "telluric forces". (Alchemy is about human transformation.)
Novalis' mention of the "world soul" reminds us of Fechner, who may have been influenced by Novalis as he developed a conception of the earth that is along the lines of what we now call "gaia".
The last admonition is great advice for anyone, especially artists:
"...he who feels an inner calling to impart the understanding of nature to other men, to develop and cultivate this gift in men, must first give careful regard to the natural causes of this development and endeavor to learn the elements of this art from nature. Having thus gained an insight he will devise a system based on experiment, analysis and comparison, whereby these means may be applied by any individual; this system will become like second nature to him and then he will embark with enthusiasm upon his rewarding task."
While we Americans usually are quite satisfied with the first raw improvisations that we spew forth.