Novalis

1772-1801. Pseudonym of Friedrich Leopold Freiherr von Hardenberg, lyric poet and early German Romantic. Coming from a Pietistic background, he came under the influence of Goethe, Schiller, and Fichte at Jena, and became with Schlegel a spokesman for early German Romanticism. In Die Christenheit oder Europa (1799) he attacked both the Reformation and the Enlightenment, the first because it was responsible for what Novalis regarded as the fragmented character of present culture in comparison to the Middle Ages, the second because of its worship of reason. Novalis's own religion was that of a Romantic mystic with no clear distinction between finite and infinite, nor between immanence and transcendence. In his view poetry is an attempt to display the infinite, the source of the meaning of the universe, which cannot be conceptualized, only hinted at.