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Friedrich Hölderlin:

(1770 - 1843)

A Chronology of His Life

by Scott J. Thompson. <Added 2/25/99>

"I don't believe you have any notion of the pleasure that the arrival of the fourth volume of Hölderlin's collected works provided me. I had been waiting for it so long and so eagerly (you see, I had ordered the collected works in August(!) at a bookstore). Because of my excitement, I was almost incapable of doing anything else the entire day. I am now eagerly awaiting the sixth volume. After reading the Reich fragments, I must presume the sixth volume is also inordinately valuable. Another factor is that, at the moment, I need the broadest base imaginable for coming to terms with Hölderlin."

---Walter Benjamin, Letter to Gershom Scholem, December 23, 1917.


[in progress]


The following chronology is drawn from these German sources:

Friedrich Hölderlin, Sämtliche Werke, Bd. 6: Briefe, hrsg. v. Adolf Beck, Stuttgart, W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1969 [Complete Works, Vol. 6: Letters].

Friedrich Hölderlin, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Textausgabe, Bde. 2-6; 9; 10 - 15, hrsg. v. D.E. Sattler, Darmstadt, Hermann Luchterhand Verlag, 1979 - 1987 [Complete Works: Critical Text Edition--originally the "Frankfurt Edition" published by Roter Stern Verlag in Frankfurt].

Adolf Beck, Hölderlin: Chronik Seines Lebens, Frankfurt a.M., Insel Verlag, 1975. [Hölderlin: Chronology of His Life]

Hermann Hesse & Karl Isenberg, Hölderlin: Dokumente Seines Lebens, Frankfurt a.M., Insel Verlag, 1979 [Hölderlin: Documents of His Life, originally published by S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin, 1925---this has recently been translated into English by Scott J. Thompson and is forthcoming].




March 20: Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, the first child of Johanna Christiana Heyn (b. July 8, 1748), parson's daughter, and Heinrich Friedrich Hölderlin (b. January 25, 1736) is born in Lauffen-on-the-Neckar. A landowner, Heinrich Hölderlin is the successor of his father's position as "Steward and Clerical Superintendent" of the Regiswindis Cloister.

March 21: Hölderlin is baptized. His godparents all belong to the same elevated social stratum of the bourgeoisie.


April 7/9: Birth and baptism of a sister, who dies seven months later on November 16.


July 5: While visiting the Higher District Court, Heinrich Hölderlin suffers a stroke and dies at the age of thirty-six.

August 15/17: Birth and baptism of a sister, Maria Eleonora Heinrike (Rike).


October 10: In the nearby town of Nürtingen, Johanna Hölderlin remarries. Her new husband, Johann Christoph Gok (b. October 1748), is a friend of her late husband. An owner of a winery in Nürtingen, Gok pursues agriculture, acts as a city official, and becomes Mayor of Nürtingen in 1776. He is described by Johanna as an "active spirit."


Hölderlin begins school and private instruction.

October 29/31: Birth and baptism of half-brother, Karl Gok.


Continuation of private instruction in preparation for Latin school.

March 13: Second father, Johann Christoph Gok, dies of a "chest ailment" at the age of 30.


Hölderlin begins piano lessons and soon supplements these with flute lessons.


Receives private instruction from teachers Köstlin and Kraz in Religion, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Dialectic and Rhetoric. Köstlin's pietism awakens a sense of reverence and love in his student. In Latin school, Hölderlin meets the future philosopher, Friedrich Schelling (five years his junior), and protects him from the mistreatment of the other students. School and private instruction inspire Hölderlin with a lasting love for antiquity. He also acquires a love for travel literature: Georg Forster's Journey Around the World 1772-1775 and the Circumnavigation of the Globe by the English Admiral Lord Anson 1740-1744. Old Testament stories of the patriarchs inspire "sweet rapture."

September 9/11: Hölderlin receives grades of "quite good" in Latin and Rhetoric and "very good" on his written translations from Latin and Greek on the fourth and last state examinations.


April 18: Confirmation in the old city church.

May: Hölderlin and his brother Karl read Klopstock's bardic song Hermanns Schlacht" ["Hermann's Battle"] in a mountain cleft of the woods by Nürtingen.

October 20: Hölderlin enters the monastery of Denkendorf, seven kilometers north of Nürtingen. The lifestyle there, like the clothes, is monkish and opposed to "the arrogance of these times." The course of each strictly regulated day is divided into four devotions, with miserly portioned recreation and leisure. With the exception of Arndt's "Paradiesgärtlein "[Little Garden of Paradise] and Spener's Catechism, the reading of mystical and pietistic writings is discouraged, the reading of "harmful books and novels" prohibited by penalty of incarceration, and the ownership of books is strictly controlled. The prominent traits of the headmaster will later be described by Hölderlin's friend Magenau as "avarice..., maliciousness and insolence."


February 28/March 2: Receives the note of "good" on his examinations in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Poetry. His talents are noted "good", his manners, "polite" and he is placed 6th in his class on March 21.

November: Letter to his private instructor, Köstlin, the earliest of Hölderlin's extant letters. Its pietistic, confessional tone prefigures some of Hölderlin's characteristic traits in his relationship to God, nature and his fellows.


October 18/19: Hölderlin is promoted to the monastery in Maulbronn.

End of October/November: Makes the acquaintance of Luise Nast, the youngest daughter of a prominent clerical administrator.

Poems: "Die Meinige"["My Family"], "An Stella"["To Stella"], "An die Nachtigall"["To a Nightingale"], "An meinem B."["To my B." (Bilfinger)].


New Year's: Luise's cousin, Immanuel Nast, comes to visit her and becomes Hölderlin's close friend. During his visit, they discuss Schiller's play, Die Räuber [The Robbers].

January, 4 a.m.: Letter to Immanuel Nast lamenting his isolation in the monastery.

February 18: Another letter to Immanuel Nast criticizing Wieland and praising Klopstock, Schubart, and the "fiery Schiller's" plays Fiesco and Kabale und Liebe [Cabal and Love].

End of March: Enthusiasm for Ossian, "the bard without equal, Homer's greatest rival."

Middle of September: Autumn examinations. Hölderlin's grades in Greek, Poetry and Rhetoric are "quite good", in Mathematics "average" and his talents are judged "good".

November: Hölderlin confesses his love for Luise to Immanuel Nast.

Poems: "Klagen" ["Laments"], "An Stella" ["To Stella"], "An meine Freundinnen" ["To my girl friends"], "Auf einer Heide geschrieben" ["Written on a Heath"], and "Mein Vorsatz" ["My Resolution"].


Second Half of March: Makes the acquaintance of Rudolf Magenau. This discuss Hölderlin's poetry and Magenau lends him his copy of pseudo-Longinus's On the Sublime.

After the Middle of April: New reading of Ossian. First reading of Schiller's Don Carlos.

June 2 - 6: First travels outside of Swabia along the Rhein to Heidelberg and Mannheim: the Rhein "is a river three times wider than the Neckar where it's the widest- this river, over-shaded above on both banks by forests - and the view further down so lofty that it makes the head swim - that was a sight I'll never forget, I was incredibly moved. The boat finally reached the other bank. One crosses in boats that are so big that two carts with horses still leave enough room for more people. After an hour had elapsed, I was on the bank of Speyer." [Letter #23, to his mother]. First visit to the theatre. Stays at the inn Viehhof, where Schiller had stayed during his flight from Stuttgart and Duke Karl Eugen in 1782.

October 21: Enters the Tübingen Seminary, where he first meets Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

November/December: Quarterly examination. Hölderlin is still 6th in his class and "very good" in Greek. On December 3, he is awarded his Baccalaureate and is entered into the "Album Facultatis Philosophicae" on December 11. Active correspondence with Luise Nast.

Winter: The confederates Hölderlin, Magenau and Ludwig Neuffer meet regularly to discuss aesthetics and poetry.

Poems: "Männerjubel" ["Rejoicing of Men"], "Die Bücher der Zeiten" ["The Books of the Ages"]


Around March 20: Neuffer visits the poet and musician C.F.D. Schubart (1739 - 1791) in Stuttgart, and also meets Gotthold Friedrich Stäudlin (1758 - 1796), who will later be the first to publish Hölderlin's poetry, and will introduce him to Schiller.

March/April: Hölderlin breaks off his engagement to Luise Nast.

April 20/21: Hölderlin becomes acquainted with Stäudlin and Schubart while visiting Neuffer in Stuttgart.

April 23: Hegel and J.F. Märklin oust Hölderlin from 6th to 8th place in his class.

Summer: Flute instruction with the famous virtuoso Friedrich Ludwig Dulon.

July 14: Storming of the Bastille.

October 20: Hölderlin returns to the Tübingen Seminary to study Greek, Hebrew, Logic, Physics, Metaphysics and Morals.

November 16: The headmaster of the Seminary punishes Hölderllin with 6 hours "lock-up" for uncivil behavior towards an instructor on a public street. Hölderlin had knocked off his hat when the teacher had demanded a formal show of respect.

Middle of November: In a letter to his mother, Hölderlin expresses his wish to leave the seminary and study juris prudence.

Poems: "Einst und Jetzt" ["Once upon a time and Now" ], "Die Weisheit des Traurers" ["The Wisdom of the Mourner" ], "Kepler" ["Kepler" ], "An die Ruhe" ["To Peace" ], "An die Ehre" ["To Honor" ], "Burg Tübingen" ["Castle Tübingen" ].


March 9: First of the meetings ['Aldermannstage'] between Hölderlin, Neuffer and Magenau. Modeled on Klopstock's "Republic of Letters." Three such meetings will bring them together to read aloud and criticize their poetry and to discuss aesthetics.

Summer: Hölderlin meets Elise Lebret, daughter of the Tübingen Seminary's Chancellor.

End of August: Awakening of Hölderlin's love for philosophy, especially Kant's. Writes the two essays "History of Fine Art Under the Greeks" and "Parallels Between the Sayings of Solomon" (Ecclesiastes) and Hesiod's "Works and Days." Along with three of the Seminary's best students, Hegel, Fink and Autenrieth, Hölderlin begins his Magisterium with a defense of the thesis of A.F. Boek [Prof. of Morals & Eloquence], "De limine officiorum humanorum seposita animorum immortalitate."

September 22: Ceremonial bestowal of the title of Magister.

October 1: During autumn vacation, Hölderlin visits Neuffer in Stuttgart where he also visits Stäudlin and discusses working with him on his journal "Musenalmanach" [Poetry Annual] for 1792.

October 20: Returns to the Tübingen Seminary. Hölderlin, Hegel and the newly matriculated Schelling share living quarters in the Augustinerstube.

End of October: Hölderlin meets Elise Lebret again at an auction and his growing infatuation for her is reflected in his poems "Meine Genesung" ["My Convalescence"], "Melodie" and "An Lyda" ["To Lyda"].

Beginning of November: Under the influence of Leibniz, Hölderlin writes his "Hymn auf die Wahrheit" ["Hymn on the Truth"].

End of 1790: Hölderlin reads and is greatly excited by F. H. Jacobi's letters "On the Teaching of Spinoza." He translates Lucan's "Pharsalia" into hexameters.

Poems: "Hymne an den Genius Griechenlands" ["Hymn to the Genius of Greece"], "Hymne an die Muse" ["Hymn to the Muse"], "Hymne and die Freiheit" ["Hymn to Freedom"], and one of his greatest hymns, "Hymne an die Göttin der Harmonie" ["Hymn to the Goddess of Harmony"].


February 12: Hölderlin's entry in Hegel's album "Delight and Love are the wings to great deeds" (From Goethe's Iphigenie), to which Hegel adds the Greek watchword "Hen kai Pan" (One and All).

February 14: In a letter to his mother, Hölderlin sketches his path to knowledge of God and briefly explains the philosophies of Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff and Kant. His writing here is said to reveal the supernatural dogmatism of his Tübingen instructor, Gottlob Christian Storr.

April - May: With his school comrades, C.F. Hiller and F.A. Memminger, Hölderlin travels through Switzerland, where they visit the Swiss physiognomist Lavater on April 19. Inspired by this journey, Hölderlin will write "Kanton Schweiz" and dedicate it to Hiller.

Beginning of September: Stäudlin's "Musenalmanach" appears with four of Hölderlin's poems: "Hymne an die Muse" ["Hymne to the Muse"], "An die Freiheit" ["To Freedom"], "An die Göttin der Harmonie" ["To the Goddess of Harmony"] and "Meine Genesung" ["My Convalescence"].

End of September: Beginning of autumn vacation. Neuffer becomes a vicar in Stuttgart.

October 10: Death of the poet, musician Schubart.

November: Hölderlin spends a few happy weeks with Elise Lebret. Bad health and depression. Writes his "Hymne an die Menschheit" ["Hymn to Humanity"]; reads Rousseau's Social Contract and becomes attracted to the study of astronomy.


February: With the enacting of new restrictions on personal liberty, Hölderlin decides to leave the Seminary. His writings echol the ideas of the French Revolution on human rights and freedom. Austria and Prussia form a coalition against France.

Middle of April: Hölderlin attends a concert of the virtuoso oboist Giuseffo Caffro.

April 20: At the instigation of the Girondists, France declares war on Austria, and Prussia immediately joins the conflict.

June: Hölderlin follows the ensuing events with avid interest, siding with the French as "the champions of human rights" against Austria's "misuse of sovereign force."

Summer: Becomes acquainted with the law student Leo von Seckendorf and a revolutionary-patriotic student group which brings ideas of the French Revolution to Germany. French newspapers are read with great interest. Hegel, also a member, is the "most enthusiastic speaker of freedom and equality." He and Hölderlin are called "uncouth Jacobins." With a group of other students, they study Plato, Kant and F.H. Jacobi.

September: Hölderlin's "Kanton Schweiz" and his second group of Tübingen hymns appear in Stäudlin's Poetische Blumenlese fürs Jahr 1793 (Poetic Anthology for the Year 1793).

October 21: Mainz is occupied by the French, who threaten to occupy southern Germany.

November 6: Battle of Mons. The Austrian-owned Netherlands are lost to France. In its Decree of the Assembly on the 19th, France offers fraternity and help to all people who want liberty.

End of November: Hölderlin tries to reassure his mother about the war: in Germany, "the good citizens have lost little or nothing, and have won a great deal, a great deal."


Early Part of the Year: Takes an active part in Stäudlin's project for a new literary journal.

May: During Stäudlin's visit to Tübingen, Hölderlin reads from drafts of Hyperion.

June: Final examinations. Hölderlin, Hegel and seven others are required to defend Lebret's dissertation "De ecclesiae Wirtembergicae renascentis calamitatibus."

Beginning of July: Political and military events become tense. The fate of France, whether it "will collapse or become a great state, is hanging by a hair."

July 14: Hegel, Hölderlin and Schelling, who had just translated "The Marseillaise" into German, plant a liberty tree on a meadow near the Tübingen Seminary.

August: The Duke of Württemberg demands an investigation of the "alleged Demokratismus " in the Seminary, where "the French anarchy and King's execution are openly defended without temerity."

September: Hölderlin becomes acquainted with the staunch democrat Isaak von Sinclair.

September 4: Stäudlin praises the "beautiful language" of Hyperion, but urges Hölderlin to insert "hidden passages about the spirit of the age," particularly the republican spirit of freedom.

September 20: Stäudlin recommends Hölderlin to Schiller as a tutor for the son of Charlotte von Kalb.

October 1: Half-hour visit with Schiller in Ludwigsburg.

December 28: Accepting the von Kalb's appointment, Hölderlin arrives at their estate in Waltershausen to everyone's surprise, since Charlotte had forgotten to announce his acceptance.


Spring/Summer: As a tutor of Fritz von Kalb, Hölderlin describes his life as "without any compulsion" and works on Hyperion.

August 21: In a letter to his brother, Hölderlin expresses his agreement with the decision to behead Robespierre.

Middle of August: Charlotte von Kalb receives a work of Fichte's, probably The Science of Knowledge [Wissenschaftslehre ], which Hölderlin reads at once.

October: Plans a drama on the death of Socrates and an "Essay on Aesthetic Ideas." Charlotte von Kalb begins to doubt Hölderlin's performance as a tutor. Annoyed with Fritz von Kalb's lack of attentiveness, Hölderlin describes the boy in a letter to Neuffer as having "very mediocre talents."

Beginning of November: Hölderlin and Fritz von Kalb travel to Jena. While visiting Schiller, he ignores one of the other guests who has been perusing his newly published "Fragment from Hyperion," only to discover that the guest had been Goethe.

First Half of November: Fascination with Fichte. Daily visits to Fichte's lectures and occasional conversations with him.

November/December: Frequent visits with Schiller. Becomes a closer friend of Immanuel Niethammer, Hegel's friend. Rapid deterioration of the relationship between Hölderlin and his pupil, Fritz von Kalb. At the end of December, Hölderlin pays a visit to J.G. Herder and is warmly received.


Beginning of January: Hölderlin is finally introduced to Goethe. In a letter to Neuffer, he describes him as "Quiet, a great deal of majesty in his glance, and love too....You often believe that a downright good-hearted father wre standing in front of you."

Middle of January: Hölderlin quits his position with the von Kalb family. Charlotte von Kalb gives him money to live for a quarter of a year. He returns to Jena to attend Fichte's classes in the evening. Visits Schiller frequently. Reads Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and is deeply impressed.

January 18: Conversation with Goethe and Maler Maier at the Professor's Club.

End of January: Schiller invites Hölderlin to work with him on his journal Die Horen [The Horae] and the Musenalmanach [Poetry Annual].

January 26: Letter to Hegel about his separation from the von Kalb family, and about Fichte's philosophy.

March 9: Schiller recommends Hölderlin's Hyperion for publication to the famous publisher J.F. Cotta. On the 20th, Cotta agrees to publish the book. On the 27th, he offers Hölderlin the negligible honorarium of 100 Gulden.

March: Friendship develops between Hölderlin and Isaak von Sinclair.

April: At Schiller's suggestion, Hölderlin translates Ovid's "Phaethon" into stanzas.

April 13: Important letter to his brother Karl in which he discusses Kantian ethics and Fichte's Science of Knowledge.

May 8: Writes a letter to console Neuffer, whose wife had died on April 25th.

Early Summer: Hölderlin, Fichte and Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) gather for an evening in Niethammer's house. "A good deal was spoken about religion and revelation, and there are still questions here which remain an open question for philosophy."

June 13: Sinclair introduces Hölderlin to Dr. Johann Gottfried Ebel in Frankfurt, who will become a lasting friend and will introduce Hölderlin to the Gontard family.

Summer: Having left Jena abruptly, Hölderlin sends an apology to Schiller, who remains silent until November 24, 1796.

End of July: Meaningful philosophical discussions with Schelling.

August: Dr. Ebel offers Hölderlin a position as tutor with the Gontard family in Frankfurt.

September 2: Hölderlin accepts the offer and begins to draft an educatinal program modeled after ideas in Rousseau: "the history of better times" will have a beneficial effect upon children.

End of September/Beginning of October: Meets Neuffer in Stuttgart. They discuss Schiller's poem "Das Reich der Schatten" ("The Empire of Shadows"), which excites Hölderlin to the point of "drunkenness." Meets the merchant Christian Landauer, who will become a good friend, and visits the poet Karl Phillip Conz, a friend from the Tübingen Seminary.

Middle of December: Schelling visits Hölderlin in Nürtingen and the two resume their philosophical discussions.


January 10: Begins his position as a private tutor for the Gontard's children in Frankfurt. He gives lessons in the morning and receives a salary of 400 Gulden.

February 11: Writes to his brother requesting his flute so that he can play music with Frau Susette Gontard and her friends.

February: Plans a project for Niethammer's Philosophical Journal entitled "New Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man," but never puts his ideas onto paper.

April: Schelling visits, and the two continue their philosophical discussions, which results in what will later be called "The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism."

July 10: With Frankfurt under siege, the Gontards and Hölderlin flee to Kassel. Herr Gontard stays behind in Frankfurt, which capitulates under heavy bombardment to the French on July 14th.

July 14 - August 9: Hölderlin and the Gontards stay in Kassel, where they meet the poet Wilhelm Heinse (1749 - 1803), author of Ardinghello, a "Sturm und Drang" novel about a philosophical artist's creation of Utopia on a Greek island. They visit Wilhelmshöhe Park, and in its art gallery and the Museum Friedericianum, Hölderlin discovers the great painters Rubens, Rembrandt, Claude Lorraine, and Greek sculpture. "The art gallery and some of the statues in the Museum made my days there truly happy ones."

July 24: Sends another letter to Schiller and encloses the poems "An die Unerkannte" ["To the Unrecognized"], "An Herkules" ["To Hercules"], "Diotima," and "An die klugen Ratgeber" ["To the Clever Givers of Advice"], but he fails to meet the journal's deadline.

August 9 - 11: Hölderlin and Heinse ride to the spa at Bad Driburg, near the site where "Hermann slew the legions of Varus" and the ruins of the Roman fortress Iburg. Hölderlin enjoys the baths and drinks the "exquisite, rejuvenating and purifying mineral water."

August: Hegel dedicates his poem "Eleusis" to Hölderlin. [1]

September 8: Evacuation of Frankfurt following the victory of Archduke Karl.

September: An enthusiastic republican partisan for the revolution, Dr. Ebel travels to Paris to observe events at first hand.

September 17: Stäudlin takes his own life by drowning in the Rhine near Kehl.

End of September: Hölderlin and the Gontards return to Frankfurt.

October: Writing to Hölderlin from Paris, Dr. Ebel expresses deep dismay with the course which the Revolution has taken and says that he has been deceived in all in his expectations.

October 13: In a letter to his brother, Hölderlin, too, begins to doubt the goals of the French Revolution: "You will find me in a less revolutionary state of mind. . . I don't want to say much about the political wretchedness. I've become quite still with regard to the latest events. . ."

October 22: With Hölderlin's help, Hegel accepts a position as tutor for the wine merchant Gogel, a friend of the Gontards.

November 20: Refusing a position in Nürtingen as "Präzeptor," Hölderlin announces to mother his vocation as poet.

November 24: Schiller finally replies to Hölderlin's letters. He suggests that Hölderlin give up philosophy and pay closer attention to the world of the senses.


February 16: Hölderlin writes to Neuffer full of joy about his growing friendship with Susette Gontard, his "Diotima."

Middle of April: Book I of Hyperion appears.

May: The Gontards move to a country home near Frankfurt where the relationship between Hölderlin and Susette Gontard becomes more intimate.

June 27: Schiller sends Goethe Hölderlin's two poems, "Der Wanderer" ["The Wanderer"] and "An den Aether" ["To the Aether"]. Without telling Goethe the name of their author, he asks Goethe whether they are worthy of his journals Die Horen [The Horae] and the Musen-Almanach [Poetry Annual]. Over the next month, they occasionally discuss the poems in the correspondence. Though Goethe's verdict is less than enthusiastic, he suggest that "An den Aether" be published in Die Horen and "Der Wanderer" in the Musen-Almanach.

August: Hölderlin begins a detailed plan for his tragedy Der Tod des Empedokles [The Death of Empedocles].

Poems: "Diotima," "Die Muse" ["The Muse"], "Buonaparte," "Die Völker schwiegen. . ." ["The People Kept Quiet. . ."], "Empedokles."


Around New Years: In a letter to his mother, Hölderlin confesses to having faith in "a good, all-sustaining spirit of peace and order" which guides "all of life's dissonance toward a higher harmony."

February/March: France overruns the Swiss Confederation, preparing the way for the Helvetian Republic. In Southern Germany, there are revolutionary intrigues with the goal of establishing an Alemannic Republic with a Directorate and leaders chosen from Württemburg's legislative assembly. Hölderlin, who greets the republican administration in French Mainz and the end of "military despotism," reassures his mother about political unrest in Württemberg. Suffering from tension headaches, Hölderlin begins to feel healthier with the approach of spring.

June/August: Hölderlin sends Neuffer 18 epigrammatic odes for his Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer von Bildung [Pocketbook for Cultured Ladies] in 1799. During the summer, he complains of feeling too sick and exhausted for any activities besides teaching.

End of July: Hölderlin sends Schiller the poems "Dem Sonnengott" ["To the Sun God"], "Der Mensch" ["Man"], "Vanini," "Sokrates und Alcibiades," and "An unsre grossen Dichter" ["To our Great Poets"]. Schiller accepts the last two.

September 25: Hölderlin is forced to leave the Gontard family after exchanging sharp words with Herr Gontard, who accuses the poet of spending too much time with his wife, Susette. At Sinclair's suggestion, Hölderlin lives with him in Homburg.

End of September: Pays a visit to Hegel in Frankfurt, and avoids visiting his "Diotima" despite the sadness of being separated from her.

October 4/5: Hölderlin and Susette meet secretly at the theatre and begin a secret correspondence.

Middle of October: After reading Hyperion, the deeply religious 21 year-old Princess Auguste becomes enthusiastically drawn to Hölderlin.

November 13: Sinclair rides to the Rastatt Congress as a representative of Homburg, where he has been working as a jurist in the service of the Landgrave of Hessen-Homburg. At Sinclair's invitation, Hölderlin joins him there on the 21st. They meet like-minded democrats and engage in heated political discussions.

December: Reads the chapter on Empedocles in Diogenes Laertius, the primary historical source for his drama. Writes the poems "Da ich ein Knabe war" ["When I was a Boy"] and "Achill" [Achilles].


Middle of February: Sinclair returns from Rastatt. Hölderlin, Sinclair and Friedrich Muhrbeck engage in numerous political discussions concerning political problems and social reform.

March 2: In a disparaging critique of Neuffer's journal, the Romantic scholar and critic August Wilhelm von Schlegel praises Hölderlin's contributions to the journal as "full of spirit and soul."

End of March: Hölderlin is troubled by gall-bladder ailments, which his doctor attributes to excessive "hypochondria."

March 11/ April 5: Secret meetings and correspondence with Susette.

June: the first version of Der Tod des Empedokles is completed.

June 4: Writes to Neuffer of a plan to start a literary journal called Iduna . Neuffer's publisher, Steinkopf, expresses interest, but only if Hölderlin can promise well-known contributors. Hölderlin writes to Schiller, Goethe and Schelling, all of whom fail to respond. The plan is finally abandoned in the autumn.

July 3: Sends Neuffer the poem "Emilie vor ihrem Brauttag" ["Emily before Her Bride's Day"]. The accompanying letter discusses the relation between form and content in poetry. The poet searches for a path "between the two extremes: absence of all rules and the blind subjection to old forms."

Second Half of July: Sends Neuffer the poems "Diotima," "Die Launischen" ["The Bad-tempered"], "Der Tod fürs Vaterland" ["Death for the Fatherland"], "Der Zeitgeist" ["The Spirit of the Age"].

August 24: Schiller declines Hölderlin's invitation to contribute to Iduna.

September/October: With the failure of his journal project, Hölderlin considers traveling to Stuttgart or Jena with the hope of obtaining a teaching position with Schiller's assistance.

End of October: Book II of Hyperion is published.

November 9/10: Napoleon becomes First Consul after a coup d'etat, becoming "a kind of dictator" according to Hölderlin.

Second Half of November: Hölderlin sends the poem "The Princess Auguste von Homburg" to the Princess for her 23rd birthday on November 28th, along with the poem "Gesang der Deutschen" ["Songs of the German"] and Book II of Hyperion.

December 6: The last letter to Neuffer, and the last sign of their friendship. Their estrangement is said to have been due to Neuffer's "frivolous" remarks about poetry during the summer.

Poems: "Götter wandelten einst. . ." ["Gods once wandered. . ."], "Abschied" ["Departure"], "Abendphantasie" ["Evening Phantasy"], "Des Morgens" ["Of the Morning"], "Der Main" ["The Main" (river)], "Mein Eigentum" ["My Own"], "Palinodie."


January 29: Refuses his mother's advice to seek a public post, explaining that such employment at this time would not be reconcilable with his present pursuits, "which demand such concentrated and undivided disposition."

February 6: Secret meeting with Susette Gontard.

March 2: Death of his brother-in-law, Chr. M. Th. Breunlin (1752 - 1800), Professor at the Blaubeuren Cloister and husband of Hölderlin's sister, Heinrike. Hölderlin closes his letter of condolence to her with: "And so I truly believe that all is well in the end, and that all sorrow is merely the way to truer, holier joy."

May 8: Hölderlin and Susette Gontard say their last good-bye.

June 20: Journeys on foot to Landauer's home in Stuttgart to find a summer's respite to work on his poetry. Landauer finds the poet in an irritated state of min and is struck by how Hölderlin's inner turmoil has adversely affected his physical appearance.

June/July: Cease-fire in Italy and Germany. Hölderlin regains his strength and writes high-spirited letters to his mother and sister. He dedicates the elegy "Der Gang aufs Land" ["The Path by Land"] to Landauer.

End of September: While visiting his family, he tells them that he has decided to look for another position as private tutor in Switzerland.

Beginning of December: In Thurgau, Hölderlin meets Emanuel von Gonzenbach, who is looking for a tutor for his younger sister. On the 12th, the merchant Anton von Gonzenbach offers him the position for 30 Louis d' ors (approx. 400 Gulden).

December 25: The cease-fire following Austria's defeat at Hohenlinden bodes well for the eventual peace which Hölderlin senses: "the calm, but inexpressible joy that our time is approaching..., that peace will at once bring what it alone can bring..., that egoism in all its forms will submit to the holy reign of love and goodness, that a public spirit will permeate everything, and that the German heart will blossom in such a climate and, like growing nature, will noiselessly unfold its secret, far-reaching powers."

Poems: 1800 is a year of astounding creativity for the poet Hölderlin: the odes "Der Frieden" ["The Peace"], "An die Deutschen" ["To the Germans"], "Rousseau," "Heidelberg," "Die Götter" ["The Gods"], "Der Neckar" ["The Neckar" (river)], "Die Heimat" ["The Native Land"], "Die Liebe" ["Love"], "Lebenslauf" ["The Course of Life"], "Ihre Genesung" ["Her Convalescence"], "Der Abschied" ["The Departure"], "Diotima," "Rückkehr in die Heimat" ["Return to the Native Land"], "Das Ahnenbild" ["The Ancestral Image"], the elegies "Menons Klagen um Diotima" ["Meno Lament for Diotima"], "Der Wanderer" ["The Wanderer" (2nd version)], "Stuttgart," "Brot und Wein" ["Bread and Wine"], "Der Archipelagus," "Wie wenn am Feiertage" ["As if on Feast Days"], "Mutter Erde" ["Mother Earth"].


January 15: Hölderlin arrives at the Gonzenbach house in Hauptwyl to tutor the two 14 and 15 year-old daughters.

February 9: Treaty of Lunéville, which inspires Hölderlin to write his hymn "Friedensfeier" ["Peace Celebration"]. The scenery of the Swiss Alps in Hauptwyl inspire the ode "Unter den Alpen gesungen" ["Sung under the Alps"] and the beginning of the elegy "Heimkunft" ["Return Home"].

Second Half of February: Writing to Landauer in high spirits, Hölderlin claims to have liberated himself from long-held self-delusions and says that he feels at peace with the world: "I finally feel that only where there is complete strength is there complete love." He declares that politics hs finally played out its overemphasized rôle, and expresses optimism about the emergence of a kinder society.

Second Half of March: A second, shorter letter to Landauer indicates a swing in his disposition: "Is it a blessing or a curse, this loneliness to which I'm driven by my own nature. . .?" In a pensive letter to his brother, he says that his thoughts are especially preoccupied with religion.

Middle of April: Hölderlin is politely dismissed from his post by Herr Gonzenbach. Hölderlin leaves Hauptwyl, crossing Lake Constance to Lindau. Riding through upper Swabia in the valley of the Lauter river, he ends up in the Neuffener Valley. The trip inspires the completion of the poem "Heimkunft" ["Return Home"].

May 15: After reading Hyperion, Charlotte von Kalb tries in vain to renew her friendship with Hölderlin.

June 2: Last letters to Schiller and Niethammer, who are asked for assistance in helping Hölderlin to obtain a teaching position in Jena to lecture on Greek literatue. Neither of them answer.

August: The publisher Cotta prepares to publish Hölderlin's poetry around Easter. There are to be 1000 copies in the first printing. Although the poems "Der Wanderer," "Heimkunft," "Die Wanderung," "Dichterberuf" ["Poet's Vocation"] and "Stimme des Volks" ["Voice of the People"] will appear in Cotta's journal Flora in 1801 and 1802, the book is never published.

Autumn: Hölderlin's friend in Stuttgart, Prof. F.J. Ströhlin, offers him a tutoring position in Bordeaux with the Hamburg consul Daniel Christoph Meyer. He is to receive a salary of 50 Louis d' ors (about 450 Gulden) and 25 Louis d' ors for traveling expenses.

December 4: Farewell letter to his brother Karl: "I will admit this much, never in my life was I so rooted in our nation, but I believe that it would be better for me to stay outside of it." There is a similar tone in his letter to Böhlendorff: "...leaving my fatherland, perhaps forever, ... has cost me bitter tears. For what else in the world do I love more? But they have no use for me. I will and must remain German, even when circumstances drive me to Tahiti." The primary thrust of this important letter concerns the relationship between Greek and Occidental art. "Though there is validity in adopting the foreign, it is dangerous to abstract the rules of art exclusively from the models of Greek excellence."

December 10: Hölderlin departs on foot from Nürtingen to Bordeaux through the Black Forest.

December 15: In Strasbourg, Hölderlin is temorarily detained and kept under surveillance by the French authorities. On the 30th, he is allowed to continue, but not through Paris as planned. Instead, he is required to go through Lyon, where he must again register with the police.

Poems: "Dichterberuf" ["Poet's Vocation"], "Stimme des Volks" ["Voice of the People"], "Der blinde Sänger" ["The Blind Singer"], "Chiron," "Tränen" ["Tears"], "An die Hoffnung" ["To Hope"], "Vulcan," "Dichtermut" ["Poet's Courage"], "Blödigkeit" ["Reticence"], "Der gefesselte Strom" ["The Fettered Stream"], "Ganymed," "Ermunterung" ["Encouragement"], "Natur und Kunst oder Saturn und Jupiter," "An Eduard," "Heimkunft" ["Return Home"], "Am Quell der Donau" ["At the Source of the Danube"], "Friedensfeier" ["Peace Celebration"], "Der Wanderung," "Der Rhein" ["The Rhine (river)], and "Germanien."


Beginning of January: Cold weather, "flooding and other unavoidable circumstances" make for an "arduous" and "eventful" journey to Lyon.

January 8/9: Entering Lyon, Hölderlin registers with the police, who ask for more detailed personal information. On the police form, Hölderlin writes down his occupation as "homme de lettres."

January 10- 28: Continues toward Bordeaux, on foot most of the time. He travels westward over the mountains of Beaujolais and through the lowlands of the upper Loire towards Clermont, north of the Auvergne mountains. From there, over Mt. Dôme: "on the feared and snow-covered heights of the Auvergne, through storm and wilderness in the ice-cold night with the loaded pistol by my side. . ." From here he travels to Périgueux on the Isle river which opens into the warm Atlantic winds of the southwest.

January 28: Hölderlin arrives in the morning at the elegant, classical house of consul Meyer on the Allées de Tourny.

Early Part of the Year: Travels with the Meyer family to Blanquefort in the Médoc, where the Meyers have a vineyard.

April 16: In his letter to his mother, Hölderlin declares that he is doing "as well as I could ever have wished."

May 10: The Bordeaux police grant Hölderlin a passport to travel to Strasbourg.

Middle of May: Hölderlin quits his position with the Meyers for reasons which still remain unclear. It is speculated that unreasonable demands made upon him to become minister to the German colony there forced his departure. There is no formal break with Herr Meyer, who retains his high regard for the poet. Hölderlin decides to visit Paris, traveling through Angoulême, Poitiers, Tours and Orléans.

End of May: Arrives in Paris. Little is known about his visit, but he does spend time in the Musée Napolean: "The sight of the antique makes not only Greek art, but fine art as a whole more comprehensible."

June 7: Back in Strasbourg, Hölderlin is granted a visa to travel back to Germany. His friend Matthison desribes his appearance as "pale as a corpse, emaciated, with wild and hollow eyes, long hair and beard, and dressed like a beggar." After a short stay in Stuttgart, he returns to his family in Nürtingen, exhibiting what his stepbrother Karl Gok describes as the "clearest traces of his mental and spiritual disorder." Having hardly recuperated at home, Hölderlin returns to Stuttgart with the intention of working further on his poetry. On June 30th, he receives a letter from Sinclair informing him of Susette Gontard's death on June 22nd. Deeply disturbed by the sad news, Hölderlin returns to his family in Nürtingen and is placed in the care of a Dr. Planck. During his outbreaks of anger, he is pacified by a Latin student who calms his nerves with readings from Homer.

September 29/ Middle of October: After numerous invitations to visit Sinclair in Regensburg, Hölderlin finally accepts. Sinclair later says that he "has never seen him so full of mental and spiritual energy."

December 30: Hölderlin's mother writes to Sinclair expressing her anxiousness about her son's state and thanking Sinclair for all his help. This is the first of nine letters written by Hölderlin's mother to Sinclair between 1802 and 1804.

Poems: "Der Einzige" ["The Single One"], "Patmos," "Der Ister" ["The Ister" (river)], "Mnemosyne."


January 13/30: In a letter to Sinclair, Hölderlin sends the poem "Patmos" with a dedication to the Landgrave of Homburg. Sinclair presents the poem to the Landgrave on his 55th birthday. The Landgrave is deeply moved and expresses his interest in meeting the poet.

March 14: Death of the poet Klopstock.

June 3: The publisher Friedrich Wilmans in Frankfurt decides to publish Hölderlin's Sophocles translations, and announces the good news to the poet on June 6th. Hölderlin does not respond until September 28th.

Beginning of June: Hölderlin walks to Murrhardt to visit Schelling. Looking back on the incident 40 years later, Schelling remarks: "I was soon convinced that this delicate, highly strung instrument had been destroyed for good. . . .but I discovered how great his power of native and original graciousness was." Schelling then writes to Hegel on July 11th, describing Hölderlin's condition and asking Hegel if he will take care of the poet in Jena. Hegel's reply is non-committal.

June 22: The poet Wilhelm Heinse, still claimed by Hölderlin as "my true master," dies in Aschaffenburg.

End of September/End of the Year: Correspondence with Wilmans concerning the publication of Hölderlin's translation of The Tragedies of Sophocles. Wilmans also requests poetry for his journal. On December 8th, Hölderlin sends his manuscript of the translations, but at first refuses to send any poetry. His nine "Nachtgesänge" ["Nightsongs"] will later be published in Wilmans' journal in 1805.


January 22/29: Hölderlin's mother thanks Sinclair for his "great gift," a sum of money, which Hölderlin believes is from the Landgrave of Homburg. The mother tells Sinclair that Hölderlin "has been tormenting himself for over 3 weeks" on a poem for the Princess Auguste, and that "he's presently completely exhausted and has nearly lost his power of consciousness." The doctors "have little hope for his recovery."

March: Convocation jof the Provincial Diet against the wishes of Elector Friedrich. A conflict arises between the Elector and the assembly.

Beginning of March: In Stuttgart, Hölderlin tries in vain to contact Leo von Seckendorf, a government councillor there.

April: Appearance of Hölderlin's translation of The Tragedies of Sophocles.

May: Sinclair arranges to bring Hölderlin to Homburg to become the Landgrave's Court Librarian. Hölderlin's mother expresses her worry and concern about the plan, fearing that her son's inevitable failure and dismissal would be too damaging a jolt to his self-respect.

June 11: Sinclair arrives in Stuttgart and meets with Homburg Court Commissar and adventurer, Alexander Blankenstein. In Stuttgart, the Elector takes measures against the oppositional members of the district commissions. There is worry that the princes will instigate a coup d'etat against the commission. Sinclair meets with like-minded political comrades, esp. the radical district assessor and mayor, Baz von Ludwigsburg. Sinclair, Leo von Seckendorf and Blankenstein dine with Baz. Amid heated political conversation, they discuss the possibility of a revolutionary coup d'etat and the elimination of the hated, absolutist Elector and his Minister, Count von Wintzingerode.

June 12/13: Sinclair brings Hölderlin to Stuttgart for a day.

June 19: Hölderlin's last departure from Nürtingen. Sinclair rides with him to Tübingen and Stuttgart. Dining with Blankenstein and Dr. J.F. Weishaar, Sinclair heatedly discusses politics.

June 21: The Elector announces the dissolution of the Provincial Diet.

June 22: Early morning departure of Sinclair, Hölderlin and Blankenstein. Riding through Würzberg, Hölderlin visits Schelling for the last time. In a letter to Hegel, Schelling says that Hölderlin is "in a better state of mind than the year before, but still noticeably disturbed." Schelling considers Hölderlin's Sophocles translations to be a reflection of the poet's disturbed state.

June 26: Arriving in Homburg, Hölderlin lodges near Sinclair in the home of a French clockmaker, C.F. Calame.

July 7/ Beginning of August: Sinclair requests that his own salary increase of 200 Gulden be given by the Landgrave to Hölderlin as a salary for Court Librarian. Hölderlin is never really given complete charge over the 16,000 volume library.

Second Half of September: Sinclair is officially present in Mainz for Napoleon's entry on the 20th. He asks in vain for permission to join in the undertakings against England.

November 2: Riding to Paris as a delegate from Homburg, Sinclair participates in the negotiations and the crowning of Napoleon on December 2nd.

Sometime in 1804: The Landgrave of Homburg presents Hölderlin with Wakefield's edition of Virgil, and Princess Auguste presents him with a piano.


January: Shortly after New Year, Sinclair returns from Paris to discover Blankenstein's corrupt practices as Adviser for the Landgrave Friedrich Ludwig von Homburg's State Lottery, a position which Sinclair himself had authorized on the Landgrave's behalf. Sinclair brings the lottery to a close. In turn, Blankenstein goes to the Elector of Württemberg with the accusation that Sinclair has been plotting revolutionary subversion in Stuttgart.

February 7: The Elector's Minister, Count von Wintzingerode further questions Blankenstein, who declares: "There can be no doubt that Sinclair and Baz intend to foment disorder in Swabia, fanning the flames into a conflagration which will stop at nothing short of overthrowing the State." He also names Hölderlin as an accessory, adding that the poet has "fallen into a kind of madness," "continually disparages Sinclair and Jacobins and continually shouts 'I don't want to be a Jacobin, Vive le roi !'."

February 26: Escorted by soldiers, A Württemberg official arrests Sinclair at 2 o'clock a.m., charging him with plotting against the Elector's life and the peace of the province. Sinclair is taking away in a coach. He tells his mother, who believes that he is innocent, "I am certainly innocent, but I have been very imprudent." The incident makes Hölderlin very agitated.

March 5: Having recently returned to Homburg, the Landgrave Friedrich Ludwig dictates the following: "The friend of Sinclair, M. Hölderlin from Nürtingen, has been in Homburg since the month of July last year. As of a few months ago, this same man has fallen into an extremely sorrowful state of mind, so that he should really be treated as a raving madman. He yells almost without interruption, 'I don't want to be a Jacobin, away with all Jacobins! I can stand before the eyes of the gracious Elector with a clear conscience.' It is the Landgrave's wish that the extradition of this man, should the investigation require it, be avoided. But if it is necessary, the unfortunate man must be completely accapted and cared for, for his return to Homburg cannot be permitted."

March 4/11: the investigation commission requests background information from officials in Nürtingen concerning Hölderlin. The Nürtingen officials "biography" of Hölderlin blames the "very unhealthy activity of his fantasy" for his "failure" to become a vicar.

April 9: Conluding that Hölderlin has become insane, the commission drops its investigation of him.

Early Summer: Hölderlin is forced to move from his lodgings with the watchmaker Calame to the harness-maker Lattner.

July 9/10: Having failed to uncover any convicting evidence against him, the commission drops the charges against Sinclair and releases him. He returns to Homburg and meets Hölderlin, who is in a calmer mood.

July: Hölderlin's final work on the translation of Pindar. Nine odes with commentaries are the outcome.

September 13: Sinclair rides to Berlin and stays near Charlotte von Kalb. They talk of Hölderlin. On January 18, 1806, she writes to Jean Paul: "This man is now raving mad; nonetheless, his spirit has attained a height which only a visionary animated by God could attain."

November 24: Leo von Seckendorf visits Hölderlin, and presumably takes some of Hölderlin's poetry, which he publishes shortly afterwards in 1806 and 1807.


January 14: Hölderlin's mother requests of the Konsistorium (the Lutheran Church Council) a gratuity for her son, and on October 12th, the King grants a yearly sum of 150 Gulden.

July 12: In accordance with the Rheinbund-Akte (a contractual alliance of the Princes, 1806-1813), the state of Homburg is annexed by the newly established Grand Duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt.

August 3: Sinclair writes to Hölderlin's mother that the political changes, which also have an immediate effect upon his own fate, no longer make it possible for Hölderlin, "whose insanity has reached an advanced stage," to draw a salary and stay in Homburg. His mother is to come to Homburg to retrieve him. "His erroneous ideas have infuriated the populace against him so much that the most harmful mistreatment is to be feared should I not be present."

Beginning of September: Friedrich Schlegel visits Homburg. Along with Sinclair, Schlegel, Ludwig Tieck and Clemens Brentano count themselves among the greatest admirers of Hölderlin, who they consider one of Germany's finest poets.

September 11: Resisting with all his might, Hölderlin is taken by coach to the Autenrieth Clinic in Tübingen. Believing that his is being kidnapped, the poet attempts to jump from the coach.

Middle of September: Arriving at the clinic, Hölderlin is given various sedatives and stimulants, such as digitalis, and the deadly nightshade, Belladonna. During the first part of his stay, he is required to read the Bible, which has a considerably negative effect upon him. Though the clinic is considered to be "humane" in comparison with other clinics, Hölderlin is nonetheless kept under strict observation, and during his outbreaks of madness is presumably forced to wear the facial mask designed by Autenrieth.

Autumn: Without Hölderlin's knowledge or permission, Leo von Seckendorf publishes the poems "Stuttgart," "Die Wanderung," and "Die Nacht" (the first strophe of "Brot und Wein") in the Musen-Almanach for 1807. Hölderlin is outraged, considering it an unwarranted infringement of his civil rights.


February 7: Writing to the Romantic poet Justinus Kerner (1786 - 1862), Seckendorf says of Hölderlin: "the deadly solitude, the eternal brooding have ruined him so!"

Beginning of May: Unable to cure the poet, Autenrieth places Hölderlin in the care of the prosperous and intellectual cabinet-maker Ernst Zimmer and his wife. The doctors give Hölderlin "three years at best" to live. In 1835, Zimmer will write: "His state of mind was much worse in the clinic. . .At that time, I was reading Hyperion, which I found uncommonly delightful. I visited Hölderlin in the clinic and deeply regretted that such a beautiful and lordly spirit should go to ruin. Since the clinic could do nothing more for him, Autenrieth suggested that I take him into my custody, for he knew of no better place for him. Hölderlin was and still is a great friend of nature, and his room has a view of the whole Neckar valley, including the Steinlacher valley." With the exception of some moments of lucidity, Hölderlin's state of mind does not greatly improve. During the first years, he has numerous outbreaks or "paroxysms," which leave him so fatigued that he must stay confined to his bed. He has occasional visits from former friends Karl Philipp Conz and Friedrich Haug, from the poets Justinus Kerner and Ludwig Uhland (who with Gustav Schwab will publish Hölderlin's Selected Poetry in 1826). In the presence of thesse men, Hölderlin remains "mostly cold and monosyllabic." With the Zimmers he is allowed to wander around the inside and outside of the house, and the Zimmers take him with them during their strolls. Such a stroll is the source of the poem "Das froehliche Leben" ("The Happy Life").

Autumn: Seckendorf risks displeasing Hölderlin a second time with the publication of the poems "Der Rhein," "Patmos," and "Andenken" ["Remembrance"] in his Musenalmanach for 1808.


Hölderlin spends much of his time playing piano and flute.

December 29: Varnhagen von Ense and Justinus Kerner visit Hölderlin. "The noble author of Hyperion did not rave. . .but spoke uninterruptedly from his own imagination, believing himself to be surrounded by visitors paying him homage, arguing with them, refuting them in a most animated manner, making references to great works which he has written and to others which he is still writing."


September 8/October 20: Conz offers the editor of Die Zeitung für die elegante Welt [Newspaper for the Elegant World] many of Hölderlin's unpublished poems, essays and the first two acts of The Death of Empedocles. The author is to remain anonymous, since Hölderlin still talks about his own edition. The editor, Mahlmann only wants works from Hölderlin's "healthy period," considering "the first part of Hyperion" to be the "blossom of his genius, then he declined in form to an incomprehensible depth." The plan justifiably comes to nought.


January 21: Clemens Brentano confesses to Philipp Otto Runge that he is deeply moved by Hölderlin's poems in the Musenalmanach: "Lofty, contemplative sorrow has perhaps never been expressed so magnificently."

January 1811: Hölderlin plans a new journal and spends most of each day writing for it.

May: Kerner's novel Reiseschatten (Travel Shadows) appears with a semi-realistic portrait of an insane poet, Holder, whose fantastic monologues bear a striking resemblance to Hölderlin's.

October: Strolling with Zimmer, Hölderlin encounters Conz, who addresses him as "Herr Magister" and hands him a copy of Homer. Hölderlin search for a passage which Conz then reads aloud to Hölderlin's complete delight. Three days later, however, Hölderlin has a tantrum over it: "I am not a Magister, I am the the Sovereign Bibliothekarius."


April 1: While attending the Vienna Congress, Sinclair suddenly dies at the age of 40. The Romantic poets, Brentano and Arnim try to broaden Hölderlin's audience.


May 10: Justinus Kerner publishes a collection of Hölderlin's poetry: "It is truly sinful to allow this poet, unique to Württemberg for his elegies, to be forgotten."

August 29: Karl Gock visits Hölderlin, finding that he is "looking good for his age," "very friendly and calm," but still so absent of spirit that he no longer recognizes his own half-brother.


May 30: the poet Ludwig Uhland tells the young student Wilhelm Waiblinger about his visits to see the madman Hölderlin. Of the Swabian poets associated with the University of Tübingen, Ludwig Uhland, Justinus Kerner, Gustav Schwab, Eduard Mörike, and Wilhelm Waiblinger, it is Waiblinger who will become Hölderlin's real friend and will subsequently have the most penetrating insight into the poet's predicament.

July 3: Waiblinger visits Hölderlin for the first of many visits.

August: Uhland loans Waiblinger his copy of Hyperion, which impresses the young poet so much that he writes his Phaethon (1823) based on Hölderlin.

October 24: Waiblinger visits Hölderlin again, "the first words made sense, the rest was frightful nonsense."


Early Part of the Year: Hölderlin visits Waiblinger on numerous occasions at Waiblinger's garden house on the Österberg. Hölderlin reads from Hyperion and appears to be noticeably improving.

June/July: Frequent visits to Waiblinger's garden house. Reads from both Hyperion and Waiblinger's Phaethon, writes poems and has an unbelievable trust in the young poet, who calls Hölderlin "mein liebster Freund!" ["my best friend"].

July: The poet Eduard Mörike, his friend Rudolf Lohbauer and the portrait artist J. Georg Schreiner visit the poet. Mörike considers Schreiner's charcoal sketches of Hölderlin to be quite accurate.


Sometime during the year, the Professor of Aesthetics in Stuttgart, Friedrich Theodor Vischer (1807-1887), visits Hölderlin. When the poet is requested to play the piano "suddenly he realized that we were observing him, he fell into a frightful rage, his features became distorted, and we were inundated with a flood of southern French curses and invective."


Hölderlin writes the alcaic ode "An Zimmer" ["To Zimmer"] in honor of his kind-hearted benefactor, Ernst Zimmer.


Beginning of June: Uhland and Schwab's compilation of Hölderlin's Selected Poetry is finally published by Cotta.

July 25: Karl Gock sends Hölderlin a copy of the book. Hölderlin is not happy with it, saying that he does not need the help of Uhland and Schwab and can make his own selection.


Winter 1826/1827: Waiblinger completes his essay "Friedrich Hölderlin's Life, Poetry and Madness," which appears in 1831.

Early Part of 1828: The Romantic poet Achim von Arnim (1781-1831) publishes his essay "An Outing with Hölderlin" in the Berliner Conversationsblatt. He expresses his regret that Uhland and Schwab have excluded some of Hölderlin's great poems, esp. "Patmos" and "Chiron."

February 17: Hölderlin's mother dies in Nürtingen. Her death appears to have little effect upon the poet.

August 25: Immanuel Nast, a friend from adolescence, visits Hölderlin. "Hölderlin did not want to acknowledge him and continued to play the piano. Nast cried like a child, and touched by love and sorrow, he embraced Hölderlin around the neck and said: 'Dear Hölderle, don't you recognize me anymore?' Hölderlin was blessedly absorbed in his harmony and simply nodded with head in response to Herr Nast's question."


July/August: Neuffer has some of Hölderlin's unpublished Tübingen hymns printed in Die Zeitung für die elegante Welt.

November 27: The Swiss composer, Theodor Fröhlich sets to music Hölderlin's two poems, "Rückkehr in die Heimat" ["Return to the Native Land"] and "Hyperion's Schicksalslied" ["Hyperions's Song of Fate"].


January 30: Twenty-five year old Wilhelm Waiblinger dies in Rome. In a letter to Henrike Breunlin on the same day, Ernst Zimmer tells the sister that Hölderlin still retains "his love of music, his sense of natural beauty, and a feeling for graphic arts."

March 6: Princess Wilhelm von Preussen invites Hegel to dinner, and when she brings the conversation to Sinclair, Hegel recalls Hölderlin: "then he began to talk about Hölderlin, who is lost to the world, and his book Hyperion--all of this had been epoch-making to me during my childhood because of my sister, Auguste, and I experienced true joy at the sound of this name -- it opened up an entire past. . .I at once saw the book Hyperion lying with its green binding on Auguste's window sill, the pretty vines at the window, the sunshine streaming in, the cool shade in the dark Kastanienalle outside the window, I heard the birds singing, in short -- the whole past came back to me with this friendly name."


November 14: G.W.F. Hegel dies of cholera in Berlin.


January 21: Zimmer writes of Hölderlin: "He spends most of his winter days at the piano, which affords him much recreation. He often sings in accompaniment, though his songs don't have the pleasant quality which they had in former days; when he is not sitting at the piano, he is in constant movement all day long, and he only sits down for a little while in the evening before dinner."

July 18: Hölderlin writes the poem "Der Frühling" ["The Spring"], the first of 21 poems written to the seasons between 1832-1843. Sixteen of the 21 poems are signed "mit Untertänigkiet ["with humility"], Scardanelli.." The dates are often imaginary: 1648, 1940, 1676, 1748, etc.


November 18: Ernst Zimmer dies at 68. The effect of his death upon Hölderlin is not known. Zimmer's daughter, Lotte, now takes charge of Hölderlin's care.


January 14: Gustav Schwab's son Christoph, a student at the Tübingen Seminary, visits Hölderlin for the first of six visits. After Waiblinger's essay, Schwab's diary entries and later biography are the most accurate portrait of the aged Hölderlin: "if one's question is directed to him quietly and in a completely ordinary tone of voice, then one eventually receives an answer which does make sense." Schwab will visit the poet again on January 17, 21, 26 and February 12 and 25.

February 26: Cotta proposes to publish a short biography of Hölderlin written by Christoph Schwab.


Autumn 1842: Cotta publishes the second edition of The Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin.

January 27, 1843: J.G. Fischer, Christoph Schwab, and Karl Auberlen visit Hölderlin, who drinks coffee and smokes cigars with them: "...despite his disturbance, he still has a spirited appearance," and still shows "traces of his former beauty." Hölderlin admits tht he is the author of his poetry, and that Schiller had been a good friend. Schwab gives the poet a copy of the second edition of his poetry. Hölderlin thanks him and thumbs through the book, saying: "Yes, the poems are genuine, they are from me, but the title is false; never in my life was I called Hölderlin, but rather Scardanelli or Salvator Rosa or the like." Fischer to Hölderlin: "Your Diotima must have been a noble creature," to which Hölderlin responds: "Ah, my Diotima, don't talk to me about Diotima. She bore me thirteen sons; one is Pope, the other is Sultan, the third is the Czar of Russia." In a shrill Swabian accent, he suddenly says: "and do you know what happened to her? She went crazy! Crazy, crazy, crazy!"

June 7, 1843: Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, Germany's greatest lyric poet, dies at 11 o'clock p.m.


1. In his book, Hegel's Development: Toward the Sunlight 1770 -1801 , H.S. Harris has remarked on the Masonic imagery in Hegel's poem, as well as the possible Masonic connections behind the private tutoring position, which Hölderlin helped Hegel to acquire : "Jacques D'Hondt has recently pointed out [Hegel secret, pp. 227-81] that the Gogel family were well-known Masons and that the whole poem ["Eleusis"] is full of the sort of imagery that freemasons habitually employed. He also argues very plausibly that Hegel's conception of the reverent silence of those initiated in the Mysteries derives from Lessing's 'Dialogues for Freemasons' Ernst und Falk. He underestimates Hegel's own historical concern with Greek religion; but his arguments and interpretations deserve careful study in themselves, and they provide a plausible reason for Hegel's sending of the poem to Hölderlin as part of his indirect correspondence with the Gogels. What was sent, if anything, was a revised fair copy, which Hölderlin or the Gogels did not preserve. What we have is an early rough draft.(Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1972, p. 244, note #4).

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