Beauty, creativity and social reality in the works of Ludwig Tieck
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Three defects of Tieck criticism are: excessive use of biographical-psychological information; excessive use of contemporary cultural evidence to deny Tieck's originality* and the divorce of characters or motifs from their contexts. A new interpretation of Love11 shows Tieck's reaction to his intellectual environment. Many lesser works are shown to have strong connections with Love11. The works of the 179°s contain both advocacy and fear of the ideals of beauty and of ordinary life; some works show unconvincing attempts to equate these ideals. Tieck's skill as a psychological writer is demonstrated. A common belief in Tieck's nostalgia for the Middle Ages is disproved. It is shown that the extent of several alleged influences on Tieck - BtJhme, Solger, Raumer and the Gothic novel - has often been exaggerated. Tieck's original reaction to the AufklMrung and his comprehensive view of it are emphasised. • I ' Shakespeare and Cervantes are revealed as the most important influences. The value of Phantasus is limited to its indication of Tieck's increasing socio-economic interests and its adumbration of his novella-theory. The latter is shown to be didactic, superficial and relatively unimportant. The novellas generally show the same combination of advocacy of beauty as an ideal and suspicion of its distorting influence if misused. Tieck's dislike of industrial society, of the mass-production of literature, of ideological interference with literature, and of totalitarianism is shown to have a mainly aesthetic basis. His greatest characterisations show that he equated the search for ideological truth with the search for an aesthetic ideal. The independence of his creative force from his more conscious interests is demonstrated. It is suggested that his politico-social views were more radical than often supposed. Vittoria Accorombona is shown to be the culmination of many of his ideas and of his art.