Monday, July 12, 2010

Wanderer between worlds ?

Recently I ran across the familiar German expression Wanderer zwischen den Welten in several different contexts. I would go so far as to say that it's a rather hackneyed expression, used to attribute cross-cultural moxie to anybody and everybody who has owned a passport.

Be that as it may, where does it come from ? Is there a "wanderer between worlds" original ? The expression is now so trite that any internet sites that might identify its origin are swamped by the ones where it is merely used.


MMcM said...

Perhaps Matthew Arnold via Walter Flex?

Stuart said...

Thanks. Definitely Flex after Arnold. It's been a long time since I read the Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse. Just above it, in the collection of his poems I found in the net, is Heine's Grave. That really surprised me, but what did I know about Arnold until now ? A little poetry, Culture and Anarchy ... Having flitted through the bioWiPe for Arnold, I get the sense that he was a kindred spirit:

In his writings, he often baffled and sometimes annoyed his contemporaries by the apparent contradiction between his urbane, even frivolous manner in controversy, and the "high seriousness" of his critical views and the melancholy, almost plaintive note of much of his poetry. "A voice poking fun in the wilderness" was T. H. Warren's description of him.

I see now that I would have found Flex and Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten in Büchmann , but my copy is still in storage. Flex may well have known Arnold's poetry.