Christian Morgenstern - Essays, Reviews and Aphorisms

Essays, Reviews and Aphorisms

In his early years Christian Morgenstern wrote a considerable number of essays and reviews for various German periodicals. They have been collected together and published in Volume 6 (Kritische Schriften, 1987) of the German collected works of Morgenstern. His philosophical and mythical works were largely influenced by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the Austrian educationalist Rudolf Steiner (the originator of anthroposophy and the Waldorf school movement), and the Russian writers Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy.

Perhaps Morgenstern's most philosophical volume is a collection of aphorisms published posthumously in 1918 entitled Stufen: Eine Entwickelung in Aphorismen und Tagebuch-Notizen (Stages: A Development in Aphorisms and Diary Notes). It has given rise to a number of celebrated quotations. These include:

  • "Home isn't where our house is, but wherever we are understood."
  • "I shall excavate the strata of my soul."
  • "I’m a man of limits: forever physically, emotionally, morally and artistically on the brink of plunging into the abyss. Yet I manage to keep my balance and possess presence of mind."
  • "I bear no treasures within me. I only possess the power to transform much of what I touch into something of value. I have no depths, save my incessant desire for the depths." (Translated by David W. Wood)

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