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Famous Like Me > Writer > L > Nikolaus Lenau

Profile of Nikolaus Lenau on Famous Like Me

Name: Nikolaus Lenau  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 13th August 1802
Place of Birth: Csatád, Temesvár, Hungary [now Romania]
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Lenau in 1839

Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch von Strehlenau (August 25, 1802 - August 22, 1850), an Austrian poet.

He was born at Csatád near Temesvar in Hungary, now Lenauheim in Romania. His father, a government official, died at Budapest in 1807, leaving his children in the care of their mother, who in 1811 married again. In 1819 Nikolaus went to the University of Vienna; he subsequently studied Hungarian law at Bratislava and then spent the best part of four years in qualifying himself in medicine. Unable to settle down to any profession, he had already begun to write verse; and the disposition to sentimental melancholy inherited from his mother, stimulated by disappointments in love and by the prevailing fashion of the romantic school of poetry, descended into gloom after his mother's death in 1829.

Soon afterwards, a legacy from his grandmother enabled him to devote himself wholly to poetry. His first published poems appeared in 1827, in JG Seidl's Aurora. In 1831 he went to Stuttgart, where he published a volume of Gedichte (1832) dedicated to the Swabian poet, Gustav Schwab. Here he also made the acquaintance of Ludwig Uhland, Justinus Kerner, Karl Mayerl and others; but his restless spirit longed for change, and he determined to seek for peace and freedom in America.

In October 1832 he landed at Baltimore and settled on a homestead in Ohio. But the reality of life in the primeval forest fell lamentably short of the ideal he had pictured; he disliked the Americans with their eternal English lisping of dollars (englisches Talergelispel); and in 1833 he returned to Germany, where the appreciation of his first volume of poems revived his spirits. From then on he lived partly in Stuttgart and partly in Vienna. In 1836 appeared his Faust, in which he laid bare his own soul to the world; in 1837, Savonarola, an epic in which freedom from political and intellectual tyranny is insisted upon as essential to Christianity. In 1838 his Neuere Gedichte proved that Savonarola had been the result of a passing exaltation. Of these new poems, some of the finest were inspired by his hopeless passion for Sophie von Löwenthal, the wife of a friend. In 1842 appeared Die Albigenser, and in 1844 he began writing his Don Juan, a fragment of which was published after his death. Soon afterwards his never well-balanced mind began to show signs of aberration, and in October 1844 he was placed under restraint. He died in the asylum at Oberdöbling near Vienna.

Lenau's fame rests mainly upon his shorter poems; even his epics are essentially lyric in quality. He is the greatest modern lyric poet of Austria, and the typical representative in German literature of that pessimistic Weltschmerz which, beginning with Lord Byron, reached its culmination in the poetry of Giacomo Leopardi.

Lenau's Sämtliche Werke were first published in 4 vols. by A. Grun (1855).


  • This entry incorporates public domain text originally from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Nikolaus Lenau