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« Tuna 4 / 2018

Between Adaptation and Resistance.
The Enlighteners from Königsberg in Livland: Hamann, Lindner, Herder

The Riga patrician Berens was the mentor of these three Königsbergians. He was impressed by the ideas of the Enlightenment but at the same time deeply embedded in his old class system. So he represented in his person the chances and limits of the Enlightenment in Livland. Hamann’s modern pedagogical ideas were not accepted by the Baltic gentry. However, his leaflet proclaiming the superiority of the man of commerce in comparison with the nobleman was welcomed by the patricians in their struggle with the nobility. The position of the patricians was also supported by headmaster Lindner in his school performances. The way in which they praised the czars was meant to emphasise Riga’s loyalty compared with that of the knighthood. Lindner’s patriarchal pedagogics also received a high degree of approval in Riga. Herder, however, had to live a double life. His literary activities had to remain anonymous because they had a negative effect on his position as a clergyman in Riga’s corporate society. Berens was still alive when the new municipal constitution was enacted by Catherine II, which threatened to undermine class privileges. But he was still uncertain whether to be in favour of the abolition of serfdom or of the maintenance of German landownership. Czar Paul’s cancellation of Catherine’s acts cemented corporate thinking in German-Baltic society. So the Königsbergian impulses faded away. The Königsbergians initiated the Storm and Stress movement in German literature, while German Baltic literature remained stagnant for nearly a hundred years.