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Yesterday afternoon in Sever 11, Professor Francke began the course of lectures which the instructors of the German department will deliver to the freshman during this and next month.
Professor Francke divided German literature into three Epochs which group themselves about the dates 600, 1200, 1800, marking respectively the period of migration, the age of chivalry, and the troublous times of the French revolution. The migration of the Germanic tribes brought about a great increase of race feeling; and a corresponding decrease of moral sentiment; it is a time of rapid expansion, and of unscrupulous accumulation. Out of such experiences the great epic traditions of a nation were born. These epics are not left intact. The Germans in the midst of this period adopted the Christian religion, and abandoned their own religious ideas; with the religious ideas went the poetic ideas, too. But the Icelanders preserved the old traditions better, and Professor Francke analyzed the Elder Edda, and showed how it is a reflex of the time of migration.
The second epoch groups itself about 1200. The European nations were then settled in almost the same bounds as today; The Catholic religion was established, and the feudal system evolved order out of the social chaos. Under the union of the papacy and the empire men as men did not exist; there was no such thing as individual liberty; a man existed only as a member of a body. And yet it was through these institutions that the nations breathed their sincerest faith and highest aspirations. The great epic of this period is the Nioelungen Leid, and it is as characteristic of this epoch as is the Elder Edda of the first.
In the third epoch it is the ideas of personal liberty and individual development which animate the literature. The religious and political movements toward freedom which are characteristic of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries influence the literature. Two immortal men, Goethe and Schiller, both working for the same end, an ideal humanity, are the central figures of this last epoch.
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