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A SERIES OF MONOGRAPHS
EDITED BY JULIUS GOEBEL, Ph.D.
A STUDY OF GERMAN MYSTICISM IN
MARGARET LEWIS BAILEY, PH.D.
Sometime Fellow at the University of Illinois
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LONDON, TORONTO, MELBOURNE, AND BOMBAY
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The present study is the first of a series of monographs on Germanic literature and culture. As the title indicates, the plan of the series does not limit its scope to German literature, but includes also the literatures and civilizations of the peoples of kindred origin.
While literature is usually considered the most perfect expression of national genius, it is, after all, but a portion of that full, pulsating life of a people which manifests itself in the entirety of their civilization. To understand literature one must take into account not only the resolves and innermost strivings of the intellectual leaders of the time, but also the immediate and permanent effect of their work upon the life of the people. Nowhere does the close relationship between literature and culture present itself more clearly than in the great intellectual movements which weave, like the Earth Spirit in Faust, the living garment of Teutonic civilization. The present monograph is an attempt to trace one of these mighty though little noticed movements, which, starting in Germany during the seventeenth century, subsequently, by devious ways, returns to its source.
The science of literature should strive to comprehend and appreciate human life both present and past. Moreover, a general and live appreciation of literature is essential to progress in higher civilization. Or, as Carlyle has it, "to apprehend the beauty of poetry clearly and wholly to acquire and maintain a sense and heart that sees and worships it, is the perfection of all human culture." America's joint heritage of English and German culture
would seem to make this country a particularly suitable one in which to study sympathetically and broadly, but without national bias, English and German literature in their multiple and complex relations. Certainly it is in this field of comparative literature that American scholarship may hope to develop independence and originality.
The following pages contain the dissertation offered for the doctorate at the University of Illinois in June, 1912, and the results of the work accomplished under the Illinois Traveling Research Fellowship, 1912-1913.
Through a study of the part played by Gottfried Arnold's Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie in Goethe's intellectual life, my interest in mysticism and the Neoplatonic movement was aroused. I found that in the mysticism of Goethe I was considering only one slight manifestation of a tremendous world-power reaching far into all the spiritual realms open to the mind and heart of man. The conclusion seemed forced upon me, however, that the grave importance of the relation of the Neoplatonic movement to literature had been decidedly overlooked in our literary histories, both English and German. Especially did it seem incomprehensible that a mystic who had such ardent admirers and so pronounced a following as did Jakob Boehme, from the time of the first appearance of his writings down to the new edition that is even now being published, should have had practically no accredited influence on the literary life that mirrored the great spiritual movements rising about the time of his activity.
During my work in England, I found that the relationship of mysticism and literature had not been so unnoted as I had thought. I found Miss Spurgeon's illuminating chapter on "Law and the Mystics" in the Cambridge History of English Literature (chap. xii, vol. ix), published in the autumn of 1912. Miss Spurgeon herself called my atten