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Stefan George
(1868 - 1933) Germany

Stefan George

Poet and translator

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Stefan was a gay poet born in Büdeshem, Bingen, into a family of wealthy wine merchants. In his young years he wandered abroad, to Paris where he associated with the Symbolist poets, and to London where he made contact with the Pre-Raphelites. Back to Germany, he assembled a school around him, the aim of which was to revive standards of pure beauty in poetry and art. He was an authoritarian personality, a natural leader.

George was a closeted homosexual but some of his work betrays a gay sensibility. His books were embelished by photographs of many handsome young men. Until he was thirty-three he seems to hae looked for an older man as a father figure. His most famous volume of poetry, Das Jahr der Seele (1897) contained a cycle of poems telling a homoerotic tale of love between men (Sieg des Sommers).

But he found no friend to fulfil the deeper needs of his heart and soul (i.e. sex and body), until in Munich a revelation occurred. Here in 1902 Stefan George met with Maximilian Kronberger, the gifted and beautiful youth who he worshipped as a god, a revelation of divine beauty in human form.

But only after a couple of years, in which they were inseparable, they went for walks and talks together, the boy died on April 15, 1904, a day after his sixteenth birthday. Their relationship would seem to have been a Platonic one. George left Nazi Germany to live in Locarno, Switzerland, where he died.

R. W. Fassbinder's 1976 comedy Satan's Brew featured a delusional man who believed himself to be Stefan George. Both Arnold Schönberg and Anton von Webern used verses from George's poems in their songs.

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