Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Tieck, Johann Ludwig

(1773-1853) German writer, one of the primary figures of Romanticism. Fascinated by medievalism and initially influenced by the Gothic movement, JLT produced a bloodthirsty Horror novel, Abdallah, oder das furchtbare Opfer ["Abdallah, or The Dreadful Sacrifice"] (1795) in the style of William Beckford's Vathek (1786), but soon developed a more moralistic interpretation of Folktales with Der blonde Eckbert (1796; as "Auburn Eckbert" in Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations anth 1823 ed anon; vt "Fair-Haired Eckbert"; vt "Eckbert the Fair"), in which Eckbert's guilt for his misdeeds haunts him through Illusions. This story was treated by the Romantics as a model of the novellen-märchen, the type of tale developed by Goethe where the supernatural was deployed to explain otherwise irrational events. It was adapted as an Opera, Blond Eckbert (1994), by Judith Weir (1954-    ). "Auburn Eckbert" was included in JLT's Volksmärchen (omni 1797), which also contained Ritter Blaubart ["Sir Bluebeard"] (1797) and Der Gestiefelte Kater ["Puss-in-Boots"] (1797), two ingeniously contrived plays within plays that utilized the fairytale motifs of Bluebeard and Puss-In-Boots for Satires on the literary and social scene. These established JLT's reputation. He continued to develop his own wonder tales, including: Der Getreue Eckart (1799; trans as "The Faithful Eckart and the Tannenhäuser" in The German Novelists anth 1826 ed Thomas Roscoe; vt "Loyal Eckart"), about a valiant Knight who sacrifices himself so that his Spirit can remain a guardian (see Liminal Beings); Sehr wunderbare Historie von der Melusina ["The Wonderful History of Melusina"] (1800), about a nobleman who marries Melusine but loses her when he discovers she is a Mermaid; Der Runenberg (1804; trans as "The Runenberg" in German Romance anth 1827 ed Thomas Carlyle; vt "The Runic Mountain"), in which a Lamia in a ruined castle lures a traveller first to riches and then to ruin; and Die Elfen (1811; trans as "Elfin-Land" in Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations anth 1823 ed anon; vt "The Elves"), an early example of the Into the Woods motif and of Time in Faerie. JLT produced a new fairytale almost annually, many showing the power of Illusion over people. He collected these with earlier works as Phantasus (omni 1812-1817 3 vols; trans J C Hare as Tales from the Phantasus 1845 UK). He was one of the primary movers in the creation of Supernatural Fiction based on folk roots as distinct from Gothic Fantasy, which was developing in parallel. JLT wrote little in the second half of his life, preferring to translate and edit the works of others; in 1841 he became the reader to Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. [MA]

other works: Die verkehrte Welt ["The Land of Upside Down"] (1797), a satire; Anti-Faust, oder Geschichte eines dummen Teufels ["Anti-Faust, or The Story of the Stupid Devil"], (1801), a spoof on Faust.

further reading: Ludwig Tieck, the German Romanticist (1935) by Edwin H Zeydel; Reality's Dark Dream: The Narrative Fiction of Ludwig Tieck (1979) by William J Lillyman.

Johann Ludwig Tieck


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.