Ludwig Tieck Analysis

Other Literary Forms

Ludwig Tieck is best known for his novels Geschichte des Herrn William Lovell (1795-1796) and Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (1798) and for his numerous short stories, fairy tales, and poems. His important critical works are collected in a four-volume set, Kritische Schriften (1848-1852), and in a recent selective edition, Ausgewählte Kritische Schriften (1975). Another of Tieck’s major contributions is his publication of editions of his contemporaries’ works, including Heinrich von Kleists hinterlassene Schriften (1821), Lenz Gesammelte Schriften (1828), and Novalis Schriften (1802; Novalis: His Life, Thoughts, and Works, 1891).

Tieck published translations of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare (Don Quixote, 1799-1800, four volumes; Shakespeares dramatische Werke, 1825-1833, nine volumes), and of other English plays (Alt englisches Theater: Oder, Supplement zum Shakespeare, 1811). He edited German medieval works including Ulrich von Lichtenstein’s Frauendienst (1810) and plays of the Baroque, which appeared in Deutsches Theater (1817).


Ludwig Tieck’s achievements are the more remarkable because they were made at a time when it was difficult for a member of the lower classes to gain access to a university education and to make the social connections necessary for success. Tieck, an indefatigable worker, began to write while still at school and sold his stories to paying journals. In 1797, he published the Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders (The Outpourings of an Art Loving Friar, 1974), written with his friend Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, who died the following year. This and similar stories established his literary connection with the early Romantic school. In 1799, he joined the circle of the brothers Schlegel (August Wilhelm and Friedrich) in Jena, where he also became a close friend of Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg).

Tieck exemplified the Romantics’ interest in medieval literature, in contrast to the classicist tradition, which attempted to emulate the ancients. Like the Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm), Schlegel, Sophie Mereau, and Achim von Arnim, Tieck contributed to the immense surge of philological activity at that time, which made long-forgotten medieval works accessible to the public in linguistically modernized, printed versions. Therefore, Tieck published an edition of Ulrich von Lichtenstein’s Frauendienst in 1810; his interest in the theater is reflected in a collection of older German plays, Deutsches Theater, containing works by Hans Sachs, Martin Opitz, Andreas Gryphius, and others. In addition, Tieck shared the Romantics’ interest in Shakespeare and Cervantes, whom they considered to be ideological and literary forerunners of their own school of thought. Tieck translated Cervantes’ Don Quixote into German, but his chief interest remained the theater. Tieck’s translations in the two-volume Alt englisches Theater, published in 1811, introduced pre-Shakespearean drama to German readers. Also significant was his publication of a Shakespeare translation by August Wilhelm Schlegel, Tieck’s daughter Dorothea, and Count Baudissin, which quickly superseded Johann Heinrich Voss’s translation. Among Tieck’s other Shakespearean works are his translation of The Tempest as Der Sturm (1796), prefaced by the important essay “Shakespeares Behandlung des Wunderbaren,” his “Briefe über Shakespeare,” and Shakespeares Vorschule (1823-1829).

No less notable was Tieck’s effort to publish editions of his contemporaries’ works. Among these were Novalis, Friedrich Müller, Heinrich von Kleist, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, and the collected works of Friedrich August Schulze.


Birrell, Gordon. The Boundless Present: Space and Time in the Literary Fairy Tales of Novalis and Tieck. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. This study examines how old fairy tales and folk tales featured in the works of Novalis and Tieck.

Klett, Dwight A. Ludwig Tieck: An Annotated Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1993. This reference guide provides extensive bibliographical material. Index.

Paulin, Roger. Ludwig Tieck: A Literary Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. A critical look at the life and works of Tieck. Bibliography and index.

Sullivan, Heather I. The Intercontextuality of Self and Nature in Ludwig Tieck’s Early Works. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Sullivan examines the self and nature in Tieck’s earlier writings. Bibliography and index.

Yee, Kevin F. Aesthetic Homosociality in Wackenroder and Tieck. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. This study looks at Romanticism and patriarchy in literature in the works of Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder and Tieck. Bibliography and index.

Zeydel, Edwin H. Ludwig Tieck, the German Romanticist: A Critical Study. 2d ed. Hildesheim, N.Y.: G. Olms, 1971. An update of the classic 1935 study on the German writer. Bibliography.