Johann Gottfried Herder
Name at birth
Johann Gottfried von Herder
Johans Gotfrīds Herders
was a teaching assistant in Riga at the Dome School (1764-1769), an
assistant to the city librarian (1764-1769) and an assistant pastor
in the churches of Gertrude and Jesus (1767-1769). Herder came to
Riga at the invitation of Johann Gotthelf Lindner, the Rector of the
Dome School, who moved to Königsberg. At the suggestion of his
fellow student and friend Hamman, Herder met with patricians and
merchants in Riga and became friends with the Berens family, and
became part of the German intellectual circle of Riga. Herder formed
a close friendship with the publisher Johann Friedrich Hartknoch and
later his son. The Hartknochs published almost all of Herder's works
from the Riga period and continued to publish Herder's manuscripts
until the end of Herder's life in 1803. In 1766, in Riga, Herder was
admitted to the Masonic Lodge Zum Schwert ("At the Sword").
With his works on German literature in Riga, Herder gained
recognition in German-speaking Europe and began correspondence with
the German poet Johann Ludwig Gleim (1719-1803) and the German
writer, publisher and literary critic Friedrich Nicolai (1733-1811).
1769 Herder left Riga with Gustav Berens (1725 - 1792). On
the way to Nantes, aboard a ship, Herder Journal
meiner Reise im Jahr 1769
("My Travel Journal", publ.1846) and never returned to
has made a special contribution to folklore studies, incl. in the
actualization of folk songs in Europe. Herder’s interest in Latvian
folk seems to have been stirred by the tradition of celebrating
Midsummer in the suburbs of Riga. Herder focused on collecting and
systematizing folk songs since Riga period. He stimulated Baltic
German interest in Latvian folklore. August Wilhelm Hupel, Herder’s
associate and collaborator, sent him at least 78 lyrics of Latvian
folk songs, with and without translations into German, and one
musical notation for the tune. Hupel obtained them mainly from his
German colleagues in Vidzeme - pastors in Latvian churches. Along
with songs from other nations, Herder included eleven Latvian folk
songs translated into German, along with commentaries, in
(Folk Songs, 1778-79); a reprint of which was published under the
der Völker in Liedern
(The Voices of the People in Songs, 1807). This is the first work
that introduces the European German-speaking reader to Latvian folk
songs. Today, Latvian folk songs sent to Herder are stored in the
Herder Archives in Berlin. It is an important testimony of the
Latvian folk songs and their traditions in the 18th century.
develops a close and lasting friendship with the Hartknochs, a family
of publishers, when in Riga. Its importance can be measured not so
much in terms of the exchange of ideas as it is in financial
assistance. For some time, Herder was staying at the Hartknochs’
house, often plays musical instruments, while the Hartknochs hope
that Heder will be their home tutor, which never happens. Not only do
the Hartknochs pay Herder the highest royalties, but also
occasionally manage Herder's correspondence, incl. Herder’s letters
to his mother, and financially support his travels, incl. from Riga
to Nantes in late spring of 1769. On the recommendation of Herder,
Hartknoch publishes the works of the French philosopher Rousseau.
became acquainted with Garlieb Helwig Merkel from Vidzeme already in
Germany. Merkel stayed in Germany from 1796 to 1806. Herder also
wrote a review of G.Merkel's "Latvians" (Erfurter
1797) and, following Herder's recommendation, Merkel went to
Copenhagen in 1797 to be a secretary of the Minister of Finance,
Count Schimmelmann. After Herder's death, Merkel developed close
friendship and correspondence with Herder's wife, Caroline Herder
was appointed to the nobility in 1802, after which he was given the
before the surname.
"Das Herdersche in Herder ist in Riga gewachsen" [Herderiskais Herders ir izaudzis Rīgā].
Kurt Stavenhagen. Herder in Riga. Riga: G. Löffler, 1925, S.13.
King of the Spirits, rich in Grace,
for "mischief", that can enchant you;
love to ring the Latvian poetry clock.
voices are heard - heard at the ends of the world."
Translated from: Auseklis.
To Herder. Ozolu
Collected works by Auseklis. Riga: Gulbis
even more excitement for the younger generation was in Herder’s
imaginative and enthusiastic writings and his persona. For Goethe,
meeting Herder in Strasbourg was, as he himself acknowledged, the
most important event that determined the trajectory of his spirit and
character. Herder was only five years older than Goethe, but
experienced and self-reflective, with wide and new views on poetry,
art, history, philosophy. Herder opened with his writings an
understanding of true poetry, showing that poetry is not only the
property and accessory of the so-called educated classes, but of all
and every nation and nationality; that its source is in the views and
feelings of the people, and that true poetry is natural and full of
character; he glorified natural folk songs in contrast to art poetry
(..) nature is superior to art, primordial to unnatural! (Urnatur
same: "retourner à la nature" as in 1793, only a quiet
sidewalk. "wider Unnatur), same: "retourner à la nature"
as in 1793, only a silent ripple. "
Translated from: Rainis.
From Goethe for new days. Literary review. Collected papers. Volume
18, Riga: Zinātne, 1982, 274.
Latvians also have to mark this noble spirit rich in ideas, who, with
a deeper understanding of poetry than his predecessors, has
contributed to the development of literature worldwide, especially,
of course, in his fatherland Germany, and as a result has found our
partially strewn creek."
Translated from: Ludis Bērziņš. Greznas dziesmas. Riga: Zinātne, 2007, 89.lpp.
cries (..) She can get to the fence of Herder's monument. At least
there is a place to grip at and support her head. A pair of barely
lit school windows illuminated by a single lamp are seen from across
(..) Bille has to deal with it herself. She takes a deep breath,
tries to compose herself and when ready lifts her eyes. Herder looks
at her. Again, the boys turned the broken head upside down.
are not doing well eiter, old man," Bille sighs. There are a few
short gasps, and she can finally release her grip on the cold grid.
If only her legs were not so terribly painful."
Translated from: Vizma
Riga: Jumava, 1999, p. [episode from study time at the 2nd Riga
Polygraphy Vocational School, 1946-1948].
Alexander von Freytag-Loringhoven. Herder
in Riga: Festspiel in einem Aufzuge zu Herders 100jährigen
[Paly. "Herder in Riga: Festive performance in One Act for the
100th Anniversary of the Death of Herder" - stamped copy,
transcript. National Library of Latvia RXA 422, 25].
K.Walter. Herders Wirken und Wachsen in Riga. Baltische
No. 57, S.28-49. [extensive publication dedicated to Herder's work in
Georg Berkholz. Festvortrag
bei Enthüllung des Herder-Denkmals, Geschichte des Wortes
Arend Buchholtz. [Herder in Riga]. Ostsee
und Ostland. Hrsg.von
Dr.Otto Grautoff. I
Die Baltischen Provinzen. Bd.
aus baltischer Vergangenheit. Berlin:
F.Lehmann, S. 77-83. [general insight into Herder’s Riga period].
Walter Dietze. Johann
Gottried Herder: Weltbild, Menschbild, Wirkung.
Weimar: Ständige Kommision für Kultur bei der
Stadtverordnetenversammlung der Stadt Weimar. [Monograph on Herder's
Life and Activities, Second Edition, 1980]
Bultmann, Christoph. Herder als Schüler des Philologen Michaelis.
Zur Rigaer Erstfassung der »Archäologie« Bückeburger
Gespräche über Johann Gottfried Herder 1988: Älteste Urkunde des
Menschengeschlechts. Hrsg. v. Brigitte Poschmann. Rinteln,
64-80. [the article looks at a particular aspect of Herder's views,
his concept of "archeology", the development of which began
in Riga, and the influence of Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791) on
Menze, Ernest A. Königsberg and Riga: the genesis and significance
of Herder’s historical thought. Herder
today: contributions from the International Herder Conference, Nov.
5-8, 1987, Stanford, California / edited by Kurt Mueller-Vollmer.
BerliN; New York: W. de Gruyter,
S. 90-107. [Herder's ideas on the historical perspective in
Königsberg and Riga periods].
Johann Gottfried Herder. Selected
early works, 1764-1767: Addresses, essays and drafts; fragments on
recent German literature. Ed.
Ernest A.Menze, Karl Menges. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State
University [selection of Herder's articles, drafts, excerpts with
commentaries of Riga period].
Gisela von Busse. Herder
auf Reisen: drei Kapitel aus seinem Leben: seinen Briefen,
Tagebüchern, Schriften und nacherzählt. Hans-Busso
von Busse. [Monograph on Herder's travels, beginning with a sea
voyage to France from Riga].
Paul Mitzenheim. Herder und Riga. Europa
in der Frühen Neuzeit,
ed. Erich Donnert, Vol. 5. Weimar: Böhlau, S. 495-503.
Couturier, Daniel. Herder
à Nantes et à Angers en 1769. Longué:
Vieux Logis [includes Herder's sea voyage from Riga to Nantes in
Tadeusz Zubiński. Herder
w Rydze i inne szkice bałtyckie.
Toruń : Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek [Herderu Rīgā un Baltijas
the nations: Herder`s legacy.
Ed.Dace Bula, Sigrid Rieuwerts. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher
2013: John Vivian. Herders “weltmännische
Bildung” in Riga 1764-1769. In: Triangulum 19
(2013), S. 87-118. [Riga period in Herder's Life as the time of
evolvement of "Citizen of the World"].
Guntis Šmidchens. Herder`s discovery of Baltic Songs. The
power of song: nonviolent national culture in the Baltic singing
Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Renner. Herder in Riga. 1764-1769: Quellen zur
für Germanistik 26
(2016), 118-133. [Herder's Riga period: source studies aspect].
Bellmann, Tina. Die
Interdependenz von Selbst- und Gotteserkenntnis: Herders Rigaer
G. HERDER: FROM COGNITION TO CULTURAL SCIENCE / VON DER ERKENNTNIS
ZUR KULTURWISSENSCHAFT. Contributions based on the 2014 Conference of
the International Herder Society at Purdue University, West
Lafayette, Indiana. Edited by Beate Allert. Heidelberg: Synchron, S.
includes analysis of Herder's Riga sermons].
der Antikolonialismusdebatte in der europäischen Aufklärung. Hrsg.
von Zorl-Gothart Mix, Hinrich Ahrend in Zusammenarbeit mit Kristina
Kandler [Insights into the European Enlightenment Polemics Against
Colonialism among Rainal, Heder and Merkel].
Kaspar Renner. Herder und die gelehrte Öffentlichkeit in Riga. Eine
Relektüre der "Publikumsschrift" von
Kulturbeziehungen vom 16. bis 19. Jahrhundert: Medien, Institutionen,
Akteure. Bd, 2 Zwischen Aufklärung und Nationalem Erwachen.
Hrsg. von Raivis Bičevskis, Jost Eickmeyer, Andris Levans.
Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, S.217-235.
worked in Riga as a teaching assistant in the Dome School, as
assistant librarian for the city library and as assistant pastor for
suburban churches. In Riga, Heder also wrote a lot about pedagogical,
linguistic, religious, philosophical, etc. issues and composed
occasional poetry, literary critical articles. Herder's list of works
contains the most important works of the Riga period, as well as
those that were first published in Riga during Herder's life.
most important works of Riga period
"The Sound of Songs at the Consecration of the Bikernieki St.
Catherine's Church" is the only Herder’s work published in
Latvian. This is a German translation of Christian Ravensberg, pastor
of St. John's Church in Riga.
die neuere Deutsche Literatur: Fragmente, als Beilagen zu den
Briefen, die neueste Literatur betreffend
A collection of literary-critical articles in 3 volumes, more
commonly known as
über die neuere Deutsche Literatur
or "Fragments of the latest German literature. With this work,
Heder becomes widely known in the German-speaking European
environment and acquires his correspondents, the most prominent
Wälder. Oder Betrachtungen, die Wissenschaft und Kunst des Schönen
betreffend, nach Maasgabe neuerer Schriften
or "Critical Forests. Or Reflections on Science and the Fine
Arts," which puts an important emphasis not only on aesthetics
but also on the philosophy of language.
editions of 11 Latvian folk songs sent to Herder
"Folksongs", the collection consists of two parts,
organized according to the thematic principle, 11 Latvian folk songs
and comments are included in Part 2 (pages 87-92 and 111-113) .
der Völker in Liedern
or "Voices of the People in Songs", is a collection that is
published after Herder's death. In Johann von Miller's arrangement,
it acquired a new geographical principle. Miller starts with the
introduction of Nordic (Scandinavian) songs and soon reaches the
Baltics. Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian songs are published at the
beginning of the collection (Latvian songs from pages 94 to 96).
and religious treatises
his last sermon at the Church of Jesus, Heder emphasized that his
sermons are for listening, but not for reading. Thus, some of the
sermons, although preserved, were first published in Herder's
collected works (33 vol., Berlin, 1877-1913) by Bernhard Suphan in
the late 19th century, such as
die Göttlichkeit und Gebrauch
After leaving Riga, in the last two decades of the 18th century,
Herder still published his biblical and religious essays at
Hartknoch’s publishing house in Riga.
pedagogical and philosophical essays
collected works are published in Herder's lifetime, they are
incomplete and many, including essays and speeches, fragments and
drafts from the Riga period remain unpublished. A great deal of work
in this regard is done by Herder's son Emil Gottfried von HERDER
(1783-1855), who publishes Herder's manuscripts and letters in 1846
in 3 volumes (Volume 1 in 3 books; Volume 2 and Volume 3 in 2 books).
Lebensbild. Sein chronologisch-geordneter Briefwechsel, verbunden mit
den hierhergehörigen Mittheilungen aus seinem ungedruckten
Nachlasse, und mit den nöthigen Belegen aus seinen und seiner
Life of J.G. Herder. His chronologically arranged correspondence is
published together with his writings from his unpublished heritage
and the respective supplements from the articles written by him and
his contemporaries”). This valuable publication is in the
possession of the National Library of Latvia.
in the 19th and 20th centuries, when publishing Herder's collected
works, new manuscripts previously unknown to the general public are
often found. Herder's foundation at the Berlin State Library is
crucial for studying his life and activities.