The Diaries of Paul Klee Analysis

Paul Klee

Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Paul Klee’s diaries actually consist of four notebooks which he carefully maintained, even edited and revised, throughout the twenty years of his apprenticeship until full maturity. Strictly speaking, they are not diaries but journals containing materials of various kinds, sometimes more revealing for what they do not tell than for what they do tell. Weeks go by with no entry at all; sometimes successive days are covered by one-sentence notes notable only for their banality. There are sharply described vignettes of events, usually involving social activities with friends. There are poems, lists of words that make the end rhymes for unwritten poems, thoughts on random matters, comments on musical events (Klee was an accomplished musician and music critic), and copies of a few letters received, one or two letters he sent, even letters received by other people. In Klee’s mind, the diaries clearly have a coherence that is not always evident to the reader.

Klee was a very private, reticent man. Very few entries fully reveal his private feelings. He makes discreet reference to behavior that he considered less than admirable, but does not describe it. For example, there is one reference to a mistress when she tells him that she is pregnant and another mention when she notifies him that the child has died—and that is all. He obliquely tells the story of his future father-in-law’s opposition to his marriage but only hints at his own deep resentment. The painter Franz...

(The entire section is 606 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Arts Magazine. September, 1977. Special Klee issue.

Dixon, John W., Jr. “The Optics of the Modern Imagination,” in Art and the Theological Imagination, 1978.

Giedion-Welcker, Carola. Paul Klee, 1952.

Grohmann, Will. Paul Klee, 1954.

Haftmann, W. The Mind and Work of Paul Klee, 1954.

Ponente, Nello. Klee, 1960.