Howard Heck Dinkins Giuliani Debate Live

But what remains, the poets donate

For Friedrich Hölderlin's 250th birthday: What a life! According to bourgeois values, the life of this Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin was a complete failure: two years after his birth on March 20, 1770 his father died, seven years later his stepfather.

Thoughts for the day March 16, 2020 to listen to (until March 15, 2021):

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Later, in a letter to his mother, he will attribute his tendency to melancholy to the death of her second husband. The Swabian housewife and pastor's daughter first sent her firstborn to the convent school in Maulbronn and then to the Tübingen monastery. According to the family tradition, he should become a pastor. This training was supported by the Duke of Württemberg with a scholarship if the Studiosus is then available as a pastor.

Harald Klauhs
is literary editor of the daily newspaper "Die Presse"

A tower room in Tübingen

But that was exactly what young Friedrich did not want. After completing his theology studies, he spent years gently teaching his mother that he did not want to take over a parish. He first tries to succeed as a court master, that is, a private teacher. But his attempts at this point mostly end miserably. Again and again he is forced to beg money from his mother. At last he received a tailor-made post as court master in Frankfurt. And what does he do? He falls in love with the lady of the house, who is married to a respected banker. After a short period of luck, for understandable reasons, his lover's husband expelled him from the house.

Nothing comes of further career options either: Even Schiller does not manage to get Hölderlin a position at the University of Jena. A magazine project already fails in the planning stage. Finally, on the journey home from Bordeaux, his head becomes completely confused. He had received more rejection than he could handle. After a stay in a clinic, he spends the second half of his life in a tower room in Tübingen. Half a century after his death, however, a poet was discovered who had renewed the language, who had broadened the poetry thematically, and whom no one could get past who wanted to write a poem in German after him. Hölderlin's life thus vividly illustrates Karl Jaspers' sentence, according to which failure is not a counter-argument against the truth.


Rudolf Buchbinder / piano: "Moderato - 1st movement" from: Sonata for piano No. 6 in C major, Hob. XVI / 10 by Joseph Haydn
Label: Teldec 8357931

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