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DPReview Digital Photography. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Deals and Shenanigans. Ring Smart Home Security Systems. For a while, until he found suitable quarters for his family, Fichte actually shared lodgings with Dorothea in the Ziegelstrasse, an act of kindness but also of some forbearance, for Fichte held strongly anti-Semitic opinions. Life returned to normal in Jena and Weimar. Other pressing plans, of which part two of the Athenaeum was but one, crowded in.
Schlegel took note of one thing.
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Under different circumstances, this had also been the pattern of Die Horen. Ein Roman von Friedrich Schlegel. Intellectually, philosophically, the novel belongs in the world that Schleiermacher, Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel himself inhabited, where history, science and nature Novalis , religion and morals Schleiermacher and love Schlegel were elevated to universals and absolutes. These novels had plots of a sort , whereas Lucinde was episodic and unsequent. The reader might be drawn inexorably to scenes where the newly emancipated flesh and sportive sexual encounters caught the attention, not the philosophical and Intellectual arguments.
Dorothea had given up everything for the man whom she adored and worshipped, her civil status, her reputation and her material security. Caught between her religion and his, she did not wish to affront further her family by baptism, the necessary step to marriage. Moreover her estranged husband demanded custody of both of their sons should she take this step. Both Caroline and Dorothea wished that the novel had never been published, setting out as it did what was intimate and private and beyond articulation.
This was the germ of the Jena circle. It was the Berlin fraction that was initially so much in favour of this togetherness, for they were already accepted in the circles that mattered to them and—not insignificantly—they were dealing with publishers there. Caroline, no doubt speaking for all in Jena, had no intention of removing to a city that she did not know, with her husband a professor in Jena, as was Schelling. They had their own circle of friends and acquaintances, the publisher Frommann and his open hospitality, or the Paulus family.
In Jena, one could meet Goethe, usually over from Weimar on visits of two weeks at a time. Friedrich entrusted the Athenaeum to Schleiermacher, and it is in letters to him that we learn the most of events in Jena. Nearly all of the number was ready by July of that year, and the rest, for the remainder of its short existence, was effectively edited from a distance. Religion was to be the keynote of Jena. Already in May of that year Friedrich had told his brother August Wilhelm that the time had come to found a new religion.
Schiller they did not visit, and they affected indifference to the first performance of his Wallenstein in Weimar, while the whole group fell out of their chairs with laughter at his Lied von der Glocke [Song of the Bell]. Everyone seems to have known except August Wilhelm himself. He maintained excellent outward relations with Schelling, the man who was in reality cuckolding him. What was one to expect when Friedrich Schlegel in a fragment declared nearly all marriages to be but concubinage? We need however to see all this in perspective.
The literary feuds of the years to about —and we are not concerned here with rehearsing all of their tiresome and repetitive details—were just that: literary. They were a Battle of the Books brought up to date. They bore only the most tenuous of links with those seditious political libelles that both scandalized and delighted pre-Revolutionary France or with the hurly-burly of Grub Street in London.
Goethe and Schiller in their Horen had wanted to be above the political fray. The Xenien waged war inside the Republic of Letters, while the Athenaeum steered clear of politics altogether, at most wrapping its historical and social discourse in poetry and myth. This was all to change once the Romantics had dispersed, the Schlegel brothers to France, and especially after , when poetry and art would be invoked to counter the humiliations visited by Napoleon on the German nation. The hack-writer Garlieb Merkel had spread a rumour that Duke Carl August had reprimanded the editors of the Athenaeum.
Already in the Romantics in Jena and Berlin had a foretaste of more scurrilous lampoons when Daniel Jenisch in his Diogenes Laterne , with singular nastiness, caricatured Friedrich and Schleiermacher for their association with Jewish women Dorothea and Henriette Herz, respectively. Kotzebue had a history of calumniations, and to these he now added Friedrich Schlegel. Friedrich Schlegel should of course never be quoted out of context, and this Kotzebue knew. At its best, it had a wide distribution 2, subscribers and had maintained high standards of writing, as opposed to specialised scholarly discourse; and it had been a major force in the dissemination of Kant.
Both he and Fichte came up with ideas, with slightly different emphases, for a so-called Kritisches Institut , a review journal that would reflect a more systematic ordering of knowledge and would accommodate the various encyclopaedic ambitions that the Jena circle entertained. Its editorial board was to consist of both Schlegel brothers, Schleiermacher, Schelling, Tieck, and August Ferdinand Bernhardi, the Berlin schoolman and husband of Sophie Tieck, who was proving himself useful as an editor and reviewer. The break-up of the Jena circle put paid to the project. It would in any case have been difficult to tie some of its editorial board down, notably Tieck, who had promised contributions for the Athenaeum and had never delivered.
Schlegel, for his part, was to find himself setting out the order and subdivisions of knowledge, not in a review journal, but in his lectures in Jena and Berlin. The last part of the Athenaeum appeared in March of Caroline then fell seriously ill. Dorothea, a shrewd, although hardly objective observer of humanity and its frailties, tried to be even-handed towards her sister-in-law.
Despite the differences in their personalities and backgrounds, Caroline had been the first to recognize Dorothea publicly and to ensure her acceptance in Jena circles. August Wilhelm, she continued, had not been an easy partner to live with, but he loved Caroline after his own fashion and in a way that she never did in return. She had never been open about her relationship with Schelling, who had kept up a front of politeness to August Wilhelm while disliking him in private.
Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, the great Jena doctor and father of macrobiotics, treated her according to his tried and conventional methods, but Schelling, who in addition to the nature philosophy that he professed also had some knowledge of medicine, insisted that Hufeland try the fashionable therapeutics of the Brownian method. Brownism or Brunonism, named after the Scottish doctor John Brown, saw health as the median state of excitability, based on the fundamental doctrine of life as a state of excitation produced by external agents upon the body, and perceived disease as consisting in excess or deficiency of such stimulants.
Novalis was also a Brownian. An elaborate charade was set up, with Schelling leaving first for Saalfeld, a convenient half-way house. On May 5, Caroline and Auguste left, accompanied as far as Saalfeld by Schlegel, after which they were to proceed independently to Bamberg. Schlegel returned to Jena, taking a detour via Leipzig, while Schelling, of course, was waiting in Saalfeld and saw Caroline and Auguste to quarters in Bamberg.
Early in July, all three of them were in Bocklet, the Paulus family from Jena also. There was no secrecy, for on 6 July Schelling wrote to Schlegel that Auguste had taken ill. Schelling apparently used Brownian methods, including the standard stimulant of opium, to try to bring her back to health. It was to no avail. On 12 July, she died, aged She was buried in the churchyard at Bocklet. She returned to Bamberg with Schelling, Schlegel hurrying there as soon as he heard the news.
The accident of this Franconian journey, calamitous for all who took part in it, had brought him to the same South German cultural landscape that Wackenroder and Tieck had already experienced in , both of them Berlin Protestants brought face to face with the aesthetic splendours of the rite. Auguste he had loved as his own daughter and it was to him that the extended Jena circle expressed their condolences.
Now was the time for his friends to recollect his genuine paternal affection, not to consider whether this had been on his side only. Yet this stiff, formal, professorial man loved children and wished to have children of his own. Caroline and Schlegel travelled to Gotha, where her close friend Luise Gotter took her in. From now on they journeyed together, even slept under the same roof. Their letters remained friendly and tolerant, as they had been all along; but the marriage was over. The Jena circle was effectively at an end. The Tiecks had left in June; Schelling continued as a professor, not in any close association with the Schlegel brothers, but not estranged from them either.
But Jena, as a metonymic association of minds as they had known it, was over. Yet it was only as Schlegel shook off these idle polemics, the irksome attendants of the Jena association that he could turn, symbolically as well as in reality, to face the challenges of that new nineteenth century. He announced, also in the same letter, the Ehrenpforte , of which he was to be so inordinately proud and which would go on to take pride of place in his Poetische Werke in In a sense that had its justification, for it showed what he could do, and all in a comic vein: sonnets, ballads, romances, epigrams, plus the parody of a sentimental comedy, and what not.
One senses his urge to display versatility and if need be virtuosity. It was part of a self-image that his autobiographical sketch of around sought to perpetuate. The Athenaeum , which, as we saw, was for August Wilhelm a joint enterprise and only one of several undertakings, contained some short and more ephemeral pieces of comment and criticism by him that had little sense outside of their original context, and these he never re-edited.
The lectures that he gave in Jena seemed to have served if anything as drafts for later series in Berlin; but most of this material was never edited in his lifetime. The edition of his poems was, however, different, those Gedichte von August Wilhelm Schlegel , that came out in April of Although the Athenaeum did contain certain of his more important poems, there was evidence that he was also writing poetry for a different audience, one more generally receptive and perhaps less aesthetically discriminating than the readership of an avant-garde periodical.
It may be significant that when his Gedichte first appeared in , copies were immediately sent to Duke Carl August, Goethe, and Schiller. First things first. These poets, too, were the names that his Jena lectures were beginning to enshrine and that his Berlin lectures were to canonise.
There was even a sonnet called Das Sonett that was both a poetic and also a prosodic demonstration of the Petrarchan form. The second of these poems they might know if they were also readers of the Athenaeum , but the other one was new. Who was Neoptolemus? Carl addresses his surviving younger brother, classical-style, from the land of the dead.
One may guess at its motivation: the desire to commemorate the brother whom he had last seen as a schoolboy of fifteen. Also perhaps the wish to show the world that the Schlegels were not all bookmen, but men of action as well. For the generally elegiac tone of the poem does not exclude a certain expansiveness of detail, the raising of the Hanoverian regiment, the touching farewell scene, with his only mention of both of his parents: Aber vor allem die Mutter, die liebende Mutter! My good pious father gave me his heartfelt blessing, Sisters crowded around, brothers embracing me.
But our so loving mother, I broke down in tears on her bosom, Only just tearing myself from her arms in confusion. How I reproached myself later, for a sixth sense foretold me Never again would I answer your dearest greetings. But our mother could not hold back the urge that possessed her Just to see her beloved son this once more. She made her way, her daughters came with her, Looked down on the square from the window, the ranks all assembled, I stood with my brothers in arms, and though I could see her, I never raised an eye, to preserve my composure.
I went through the lines and hurried them on, took orders, Passed them on, immersing myself in military business, Mounted my horse, taking the lead of the marching column, And only looked homeward when we were outside the gate.
Bothering the Infinite in: Studies in Early Greek Philosophy
The fifes and drums drowned out any sad thoughts that I might have And the song of the men who were greeting the morning. All this in verses of elegiac couplets. It is a good poem, almost the only one by him that breathes genuine feeling. Above all it had combined the poetic with the real and autobiographical. Carl Schlegel had died in the symbolic year , and Neoptolemus in the elegy recalled how the political turmoil and chaos of the revolutionary years had brought ever more dead to join him in the realm of the shades.
This, at least, would be a sentiment that could appeal to the Goethe of Hermann und Dorothea. In , in its reissue in his re-named Poetische Werke. Schlegel of course would never have begun an elegy seemingly in mid-sentence, as Euphrosyne does. That was the privilege of genius. Following the Odyssey the Iliad rather less , it was also private and domestic, with characters who displayed a heart-warming sincerity and directness. As a renewal of Homer, it had an unforced epic tone, and its rhythm was unconstrained by any too punctilious adaptation of the ancient hexameter.
They did not however represent the sum of the elegiac tradition, and so Friedrich Schlegel reminded him of the thematic variety of the much less-known and imperfectly edited Greek elegy all in extracts translated by August Wilhelm. These poems were learned and replete with allusions: both Schlegels were very much at home in this world, classical philologists in effect, ever so slightly parading their knowledge. It was that philological, learned side of the Schlegel brothers that has travelled rather less well.
Nevertheless it formed part of their sense of poetic continuities, their ultimately Herderian awareness of the historical rhythms and patterns of rise and fall, efflorescence and decay, that record the Alexandrian desiccations as here as well as the new risings of sap. Goethe had an explanation. Reflecting over twenty years later, in Campagne in Frankreich , he recalled the general laxity in the writing of hexameters when, as a distraction from the Revolutionary Wars of , he first sat down to retell the story of Reynard the Fox in classical verse, as Reineke Fuchs.
It is also certain that they disagreed on the extent to which metre may have priority over sense. Goethe where possible allowed himself to be guided by the natural rhythm of the language rather than its purely metrical patterns. He himself saw none of these activities in isolation.
He never put himself into compartments. All areas of endeavour had their place but were also interdependent: philology and antiquarian scholarship, the creative use of language in translation, art appreciation, the writing of poetry yes, even this. They could be expressed as a philosophical principle, referring all art forms to an original ideal or model, from which all else emanated, a neo-platonic or Hemsterhuisian notion of beauty, the outward manifestation seen as but a mirror image of the inner.
These notions informed the staid verses of those didactic or poetological poems, Prometheus or Pygmalion , of which Schlegel was so proud. This, too, would guarantee its autonomy and also the validity and truthfulness of human feelings. Schlegel had formulated these ideas in the lectures that he gave at Jena. His hearers may in any case not have been aware of the extent of his borrowings from existing material. An example was his use of his Horen essay as the source for his notions on language, not substantially altered.
His ideas on euphony and musicality in language drew on his opening contribution to the Athenaeum , Die Sprachen [The Languages]. Sections on Greek poetry had been copied straight from his brother Friedrich. The passage on Shakespeare was little advance on Eschenburg. All contain elements of the others. Take poetry. A didactic poem like Die Kunst der Griechen [The Art of the Greeks] was both a threnody for a lost past and also a statement positing the centrality of Greek culture for a post-classical age. Or criticism. Friedrich Schlegel, too, while editing the and numbers of the Athenaeum , had privately been catching up on his reading of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian and Spanish classics.
For August Wilhelm, Dante had seemed preferable, despite his eccentric theology. At least the characters in the Inferno had flesh and blood. True, much offended the sensitivities Ugolino, for instance , but it was preferable to the exsangious creations of Der Messias and by extension, his model, Milton. Its two major reviewers were, not surprisingly, Schlegel and Voss. For there were absurdities in Klopstock, not least his imagined link between Greek and German fanciful ideas involving the Thracian Getae.
This Schlegel could easily rectify. If one wanted brevity, better examples could be found in Aeschylus rather than in Homer, on whom Klopstock seemed to be fixated. True, English and French had their limits as poetic languages, but Italian certainly did not. Klopstock had also lived in an age unfazed by manifest improbabilities, happily linking druids and bards, German and Celt, Greek and Goth as one linguistic community.
This in its turn was an olive branch to the same Grimm whom Schlegel had exquisitely torn to pieces in his massive review of He would now learn that the great mother language, Sanskrit, followed Greek, Gothic perhaps as well had its poetry survived. In , but addressing the specialist audience of his fellow-Sanskritists and linguisticians in his Indische Bibliothek , Schlegel had been yet more even-handed towards Klopstock, to Goethe and Schiller also, knowing that neither Klopstock nor Schiller were alive to appreciate this irenic gesture.
It still had its gaze firmly fixed on the works of art themselves and the things to be observed as one stood in front of them. Only after this necessary analysis did the discourse merge into poetic utterance. But there were also immediate differences between the Romantics and Goethe. Their remarks reflected existing hierarchies within art discourse or engaged with these. Historical painting ranked as superior to landscape or seascape, genre or still life. Venetian, Bolognese, and French schools stood in that order of esteem.
Generally these connoisseurs followed their own dictates and looked or overlooked as they chose. If that meant more Venetians and almost no Dutch, well and good. The dialogue and the poems he had written, the descriptions of paintings were by the said lady. One can draw inferences from the respective contributions of the three interlocutors in the conversation: Louise, generally accepted as being Caroline herself, Waller, who is August Wilhelm, and Reinhold, a kind of collective figure for the remaining friends.
Waller summed up the general consensus—quoting Herder or Hemsterhuis in all but name—that statuary was not a mere question of shape or contour or mass or repose. The whole conversation was, however, called The Paintings , and so the visitors walked on towards the painting galleries, their real goal.
These were in reality scattered, but the essay conveniently assembled them, one Italian Salvator Rosa , one French Claude , one Dutch Ruysdael. Total coverage was not their aim. They were content to dispraise a Claudesque painting by Hackert as being essentially lifeless if it suited them. Instead they attempted a close, sometimes quite technical, analysis of the three paintings.
This could be seen increasingly in the accounts of Correggio, who was beginning here his advance in Romantic esteem to become the equal of Raphael. There were outright condemnations, too, that amounted to blanket rejections of schools or centuries: the Flemish Rubens , French neo-classicism Poussin , the eighteenth century in general Batoni, Mengs. Waller listed them: technically, the right balance of facial details formed a harmonious whole he never mentions the crown of thorns ; aesthetically, it produced repose, dignity, greatness, and serenity.
Louise confessed to tears. Was she in danger of becoming Catholic? But art never lost its autonomy. It was not so suffused with feeling as to become something vague and indefinable. It did not inhibit further analysis of the supporting figures , but it raised two important issues. The first was the close relationship of the fine arts to poetry. August Wilhelm saw the matter less extravagantly. This was also the uncle of Auguste von Buttlar speaking, displeased at her embrace of Rome.
There was his Flaxman essay as well. The engravings, first produced by Tommaso Piroli in Rome in , were expensive and copies were initially hard to come by. Gone were the reservations that he had expressed but a few years ago. In those sections where Dante went beyond the powers of human expression, Flaxman used geometrical figures circle, triangle , themselves mystical symbols of the godhead, and passed beyond mere representation. In that sense, this Athenaeum essay was entering regions where Goethe already had reservations and later was to see merely superstition.
Their effect was of necessity limited, for students did not flock to Schlegel as they did to Schelling and as they had done to Fichte, and it is only through the initiatives of two promising and intelligent young men, Ast and Savigny, that we have any record at all. Even then they have only handed down to us those lectures now called Philosophische Kunstlehre [Philosophical Art Theory]. These contain sections dealing with German literature, but they are presumably different from the lectures on the history of German poetry now lost that he also announced.
In keeping with other German universities, Jena had been offering lectures on aesthetics not necessarily under this exact title for decades. Schlegel could therefore be seen as a versatile and reliable colleague in both classical and modern literatures and was also the man best suited to inject the central tenets of transcendental idealism into the academic teaching of aesthetics.
Aesthetics, as the philosophical study of human awareness of art and beauty, dealt with such absolutes, themselves the absolute aims of humanity. As man becomes aware of his ultimate purpose, so he grows in his awareness of art and beauty. Art is by this definition no mere accessory, has no ancillary function, is no frill or furbelow.
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These are ideas firmly rooted in Schiller or Fichte. On one level, this meant setting out the history of aesthetics from Plato and Aristotle to Baumgarten, Winckelmann and Kant. We study Homer, he said, because he was closest to this primeval poetry before it became the preserve of a chosen few and was changed into art.
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Although climate and physical or phonetic differences lead to disparity, all language is by nature rhythmical, musical or image-laden. Image is the essential of myth, and myth is the product of the powers of human expression. Here Schlegel first developed the basically anthropological ideas human figure, oracle, fate, belief in life after death, the golden age that were to form part of his Romantic mythology but also informed his later Bonn lectures on ancient history.
Again, there were many prefigurations here of his later Berlin and Vienna lectures. It was to be followed by another gap in the Romantic ranks when early in Novalis succumbed to the tuberculosis that had been undermining his frail constitution. Significantly, they did not include his radical Die Christenheit oder Europa [Christendom or Europe], a vision of history too controversial for readers in the new nineteenth century.
Despite differences, personal between Caroline and Dorothea, ideological between Friedrich Schlegel and Schelling, the former Romantic circle was nevertheless able to show a united front when it suited, as in the two volumes called Charakteristiken und Kritiken in During the Athenaeum years one would hardly have known that the map of Europe was being redrawn or that tumultuous events were happening, in the far-off Mediterranean or Egypt, so absorbed had these men and women of letters been with matters of the mind or wars with literary rivals. We hear much more now of the threats, real or imagined, of armies on the move, of real captures and quarterings imposed on the civil population.
In , Caroline experienced the political repercussions of the times at first hand in Harburg, with the cession of the Hanoverian lands to Prussia. Yet the postal service still functioned. During the peace interludes Friedrich and Dorothea travelled unhindered to Paris and set themselves up there, relying on the diligence to get letters, proofs and packets of books from one land to another.
It was in more ways than one a repetition of the journey in the same direction she had once made from Mainz. She was, as then, accompanied by August Wilhelm, now as ever linked by bonds of friendship and respect, devotion even. Their marriage was over. There remained still a strong residue of the affection, solicitude and camaraderie that had once been the mainstay of their relationship. He was still helping her financially.
She, as before, could still be relied upon to pass on her critical and practical insights and her encouragement, as Schlegel sought to forge for himself a career as a dramatist and as a public lecturer in Berlin. It was she who advised him not to break with his publisher Unger over a breach of contract with the Shakespeare edition, shrewdly noting that no-one else would take on this enterprise with a litigious translator.
It also represented a leave-taking from Jena and its associations. The Schlegel brothers wrote no novellas, but they knew that Goethe had consciously revived this Renaissance narrative form in , and they were to see its explosive expansion during their own lifetime. The essay is part of the Romantic discovery and rehabilitation of Italian and Spanish literature as sources of original, vital poetry, that saw Cervantes placed on the same scale of esteem as Dante and Shakespeare.
While going through the requisite rites of mourning he emancipated himself once and for all from mentoring and tutoring. This Johnson did with some nobility. The Germans, it seems, had been less generous to their downtrodden artists. Schlegel clearly did not wish to kick a fallen man, but neither did he wish to write a hagiography. His aim was to be fair, even if fairness involved the occasional severity. Thus his essay should not be read as a direct reply to the points raised by Schiller.
The times had not been favourable to him, says Schlegel, in that the period of his greatest influence was the immediate aftermath of the Sturm und Drang, in the s, not the high-pitched turbulence of the s. He was after all still close to Weimar. In , when reissuing the essay, he marred its generally even-handed tone with querulous and carping comments on Schiller, who was no longer able to answer. He sought for two things that in many ways cancelled each other out: popularity and correctness. Popularity was fine, but it could have the effect of depressing the level of quality, of being poetically all things to all men.
This paradox also contained a fatal contradiction. This service to poetry, says Schlegel the historian of the romance form, cannot be praised too highly. There had been great poetry nevertheless, such as that ballad Lenore , that Schlegel could not praise enough, that had taken the English by storm. Even if he never himself attempted a translation of this play, he was not willing to compromise the standards of Shakespearean rendition that he himself had established in theory and even more so in practice. One could not apply to him the high standards that the Berlin lectures were to require of great and lasting poetry, but he was accorded a place, more modest but not without its own honour, in the national literature.
It was to be his base until A short exception was the brief return visit to Jena in the late summer of After a final journey to Berlin and Dresden where his sister Charlotte Ernst unwisely lent them money , Friedrich and Dorothea left in stages for Paris.
Wolfgang Kersting, First Edition
There was, he said, no chance of earning a living in Germany, with them constantly on the move—a wanderlust occasioned by his creditors, one might add. He would be able to use his writings in Paris and work from that base. The much-admired Georg Forster had existed in this fashion, an analogy that even Friedrich must have known to be unfortunate in all of its associations.
Yet the Schlegel brothers, while never agreeing on the subject of their respective partners or spouses, could in many ways not live without each other. A kind of exodus from Jena to Heidelberg did take place. Overtures were made to Tieck; Paulus eventually went there; Schelling at one stage showed interest the Schlegel brothers never. It might instead be fair to say that the content of the Athenaeum had been determined, dictated even, by the arguments of the s, by associations, like those with Fichte, Schleiermacher or Novalis, that no longer held in the new century.
Or that Goethe, and the desire to please him, had absorbed a disproportionate amount of its attention. If one were searching for a manifesto of things new, as opposed to the old order, one would not look to the artificial divide between Jena and Heidelberg, but to the works of the circle itself. This was where the future lay. Yet as other Romantics, his brother Friedrich, Schleiermacher, Ludwig Tieck among them, were removing themselves from Berlin, it seemed as if August Wilhelm was trying to reconstitute the Prusssian capital as a focal point for the movement. In this he also found himself being drawn into the turbulent affairs of the Tieck family, the three siblings, Ludwig, Sophie, and Friedrich.
Friedrich, in his turn, not always through his own fault, was at times reduced to a hand-to-mouth existence. He was no longer in Berlin, having spent himself in polemics and controversies directed at the anti-Romantic clique there. With the death of Novalis in March , a double memorialisation seemed called for. Tieck and both Schlegel brothers were to be the main contributors, but anyone capable of acceptable verse and of the right disposition might also be invited. As usual, it was Schlegel who saw the little volume through the press.
Schlegel and L. Title page. Ballads or religious verse stanzas from different traditions, Catholic and Protestant, were also prominent. Religious the almanac certainly was, with those extraordinary poems by Novalis as its centrepiece, a kind of ecumenical religiosity that took in elements of whatever provenance and reflected the sense, formulated by Schleiermacher, that all facets of intellectual and cultural life were subject to a spiritual dimension.
The Schlegels translated the swooning cadences of the medieval hymn and the devotional verse of the Spanish Baroque. The blessed feast never ends, Love is never sated. Still, it is noticeable, when at the end of Tieck showed all the signs of crisis and nervous collapse, that it was Friedrich Schlegel to whom he wrote a great confessional letter, not August Wilhelm. Whereas the Schlegels did not go in for sibling rivalry, with the Tiecks it assumed textbook dimensions. Those who defend Sophie mostly women point to her invidious position as the middle sibling between two brothers, hemmed in by domesticity, marriage and childbearing, disparaged and exploited by writers in her immediate entourage.
Those who do not defend her largely men find her neurotic, exploitative, rapacious, vampiric even, and these are the terms that one tends to hear in the Schlegel narrative not of course from August Wilhelm himself. Bernhardi, a classicist and schoolmaster at the Friedrichswerder Gymnasium in Berlin, was a friend of her brother Ludwig, and his marriage to Sophie in seemed a natural consequence. Their first child, Wilhelm, was born in , but the marriage failed. Bernhardi had few friends. He may have had an unpleasant and unattractive personality, but he surely does not deserve the demonisation visited on him by the Tieck-Schlegel circle.
Schlegel was to do a long review of his important handbook on language for Europa.
Bothering the Infinite
He needed no introductions to the world of the theatre: Madame Unzelmann was very glad of his company, more than glad, some alleged. He commemorated her acting in prose and verse. Through the Bernhardis, Schlegel found a lawyer willing to take the publisher Unger to court unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Perhaps also solicitude when this little mite died the following February. The letters that they exchanged from the period of his absence in Jena, from August until October , are, however, full of passion.
Bernhardi was of course to be kept in the dark.
So was Caroline: Schlegel still had too much affection for her. In the autumn of Schlegel waxed lyrical in a poem to Sophie with perhaps a veiled reference to a child that she was carrying, and when in November Felix Theodor Bernhardi was born, Schlegel had reason to believe that he was the father. Knorring, a Baltic nobleman, had been taking private Greek lessons with Bernhardi, perhaps a little more than that. Schlegel, it hardly needs to be said, made regular contributions to her exchequer. Friedrich had been absent from Berlin since Tieck also did busts of Goethe commemorated in a distich by Schlegel and of members of the ducal house and court.
Had Tieck possessed the determination of Schadow or Christian Daniel Rauch, his work would be more widely known. These showed the five main characters in different forms of Greek dress, the royal figures, the priestess, the old man, each in a symbolic colour relating to rank and status. Of course it is but one further example of those classicizing adaptations for which in the eighteenth century the English, the Italians, the French—and now the Germans—had such a weakness and in which those Schlegel uncles, Johann Elias and Johann Heinrich, had had a minor part, a footnote in the family chronicle.
He could hardly conceal his dismay that Goethe had translated Voltaire and was having him staged in Weimar, in order to train his actors in proper declamation and harmonious unity of movement, the kind of thing that Schlegel himself so admired in Friederike Unzelmann in Berlin. Schlegel did not wish to come over as a mere professor passing on insights, a kind of Euripides at the lectern, if one will. The two forums of public performance, the stage and the rostrum, therefore complemented each other.
Like Goethe, Schlegel has no chorus, but Ion sings a song the music by Johann Friedrich Reichardt to be accompanied by that most un-Greek of instruments, the pianoforte. The style was uniformly elevated, reinforced by the use of masks. He was therefore not present when it was duly performed on 2 January Even Schiller attended, despite his perennial illness. True, the great Weimar actress Karoline Jagemann was praised in the title role.
There were however elements in the audience inimical to both Goethe and Schlegel. These centred on Kotzebue, and they planned mischief. There were titters and whisperings, then jeers. So strong was the anti-Goethe and anti-Romantic faction in both Weimar and Berlin that Schlegel wished to preserve his anonymity, at least until the play was performed in Berlin. Friedrich Schlegel unwisely told Dorothea, and then the secret was out. Hearing of this, Goethe confronted Bertuch, threatening to go to the duke with his resignation as director of the court theatre if he proceeded.
Bertuch backed down. It was remarkable what one could achieve if one was the major name in a minor ducal residence. Iffland had shown far less enthusiasm for the play than Goethe. He did nevertheless have it performed twice in May, taking himself the role of Xuthus, with the celebrated Friederike Unzelmann in the title role.
Nor could the book edition of rescue its reputation; printing the play in his poetic works in did not help either. Ion remained a dismal flop. It is fair to say that in this intervening period those Romantics still actively involved were subjected to a barrage of polemics—lampoons, parodies, caricatures—that threatened to consume their energies. Ludwig Tieck had actually withdrawn from Berlin to Dresden and then to remotest Ziebingen partially to escape from this tiresome business. Friedrich Schlegel had not helped matters by persuading Goethe to have his tragedy Alarcos performed in Weimar in April, There were scenes similar to the Ion fiasco, Goethe as then prompted to Olympian pronouncements.
There are those who defend Alarcos in preference to Ion , but the choice is essentially one between two evils. The Weimar audience took itself less seriously than its authors. The duke had had a good laugh. Were one even to list the titles of all the anti-Romantic ephemera and squibs many of them damp from to one would fill several pages. His links with the English literary scene enabled him to achieve an even wider circle of dissemination. The artists involved were no Gillrays or Rowlandsons, nor would German censorship have permitted such excesses.
On Parnassus itself Kotzebue, modishly dressed in the new pantalon , is wielding a flail in defence. But Die neuere Aesthetik [The New Aesthetics] is altogether more entertaining, not least for having affinities with a French carnival print. These engravings have maintained their wit, which cannot be said for the other polemical ephemera of the period. The Romantics could not respond in kind. Courtesy of Wallstein Verlag, image in the public domain.
Eine Zeitschrift. Herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel Frankfurt am Main, , Frontispiece and title page. As said, by late , Friedrich and Dorothea were in Paris. It was in some measure a parting of the ways for the two brothers. Im Herbst [To Friedrich Schlegel. In the Autumn of ], but not published until when the brothers were together for a brief time in Vienna, seemed to suggest a common purpose, a conjoint effort, but with a division of labour.
The poetic images speak of one brother Friedrich putting down roots, steering the course, delving in the innermost parts of the earth, the other August Wilhelm as rising sap, trimming the sails, tending the products of the soil. Both, in the terms of the poem, would return to their homeland to enjoy the fruits of their labours. It was not to be. Does this poem not confirm what so many have since maintained: that the younger brother had the ideas mined the ores while the elder merely gave them formulation reaped the harvest , the one a thinker, the other a mere translator in all senses of that word?
These are ultimately sterile debates, and above all they do not reflect what the brothers thought. In an image reminiscent of Goethe, he saw himself as the unruly element, the wild stream, his brother the broad reflecting surface of the lake into which it flows. Needing money and seeing publishers somewhat grandly as mere commodity suppliers, he harried Wilmans for cash on the nail. Alexander Hamilton, a Scotsman formerly in the employ of the East India Company and caught by the accident of war in Paris, was teaching him Sanskrit.
Would August Wilhelm not join them? Of course money was the problem. Were someone to give him a thousand francs per annum for two or three years, all would be well. These three young gentlemen were receiving private lectures from Schlegel on the history of literature and art and paying well , balancing in some respect the public lecture course that August Wilhelm was delivering in Berlin.
There was of course nothing new in Germans coming to terms with themselves and their culture in a great foreign city, be it Rome or London or Paris. Berlin, where his brother was lecturing, was, despite being a major city, only A capital, not THE capital. First, there was the theme of loss that formed the immediate historical background to Europa. France, with Paris as its centre, was a nation forged by the French Revolution.
Germany by contrast, lay in ruin: the Principal Resolution of the Imperial Deputation Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of , spelled formally the end of the old Holy Roman Empire, the final push that Bonaparte had given to the tottering edifice. The emphasis was therefore on Europe, but on the Europe that once was. In the important introductory section, Friedrich recorded his real and symbolic journey from Berlin to Paris. The subsequent interruptions and losses of continuity, whether caused by the downfall of the old Holy Roman Empire or by the Reformation, or the much-hated Enlightenment and its child, the French Revolution, had left the Germans with a past and its poetry and painting, an uncertain present, and an even more dubious future.
The tone was also aggressive, adversarial and triumphant. The one-sided deference to Goethe was now a thing of the past, and there was much in Europa that Goethe would find unappealing Schiller, predictably, was mentioned just once. Europa was nevertheless also a prophetic text: in the present state of separation the seeds of a unity—yet to be regained— might be discerned. Cultural and artistic manifestations—in France or Germany—that did not measure up to these standards were to be exposed and identified.
It was to him that Friedrich wrote, urging the widest possible distribution of Europa : to Copenhagen, to Stockholm, to St Petersburg. There, his discussion of the theories of the origin of language was intended to merge into an account of the human urge for rhythm and poetry and the different manifestations, historical and cultural, that these may take. Whereas the first part of the periodical had contained a generally upbeat account by Friedrich, simply called Literatur , essentially setting out the achievements in poetry, philosophy and science of the Romantic school not forgetting Goethe or even Schiller , August Wilhelm offered a tabula rasa of the century that had so recently ended.
Apart from a few notable exceptions—and they, Winckelmann, Lessing, Hemsterhuis and Goethe, were very few indeed—Schlegel found no modern literature to speak of and—not surprisingly—no satisfactory national traditions of poetry or criticism. But like Friedrich, August Wilhelm also perceived signs of regenerating processes, mostly among the like-minded Romantic poets to whom he belonged. Spain had what many other literatures French and German among them no longer had: the magical and imaginary, the fiercely patriotic, the deeply religious.
But it is also true to say that no other single work by Schlegel went through so many later editions but with different publishers , including three different Viennese pirates. Not for long, as the story of their slightly stormy relationship was to show. It did not sell well although Schlegel received over talers for it , and the whole enterprise ended in acrimony.
This was almost the last area in which their interests fully coincided before irreconcilable differences obtruded. Goethe was delighted, amazed; Schiller, despite his dislike of Schlegel, similarly. High praise indeed. There were even fragments of a religious drama in the Calderonian style. There were to be later recantations notably by Tieck himself. The genie was however well and truly out of the bottle, and the mode for Calderonian drama in the nineteenth century stems from this generation. Public lectures were a source of emolument, and an independent writer and scholar had to be both astute and versatile.
With Berlin still without a university, and with few German universities situated in large towns, there was a need for this form of public discourse. There was an international aspect to this desire for public lectures. They coincided with his last burst of poetic writing, up to , when he was still seeking to demonstrate an undiminished belief in his own poetic powers or his powers of versification , whether in original form or in translation. When they heard the section on sculpture in the first series, the audience might know that the lecturer had also reviewed the latest art exhibition in Berlin and had discussed the respective merits of Schadow and Friedrich Tieck.
All this is by way of saying that the Berlin Lectures should ideally be read as a continuum with Die Horen , the Athenaeum and, to some extent, the Jena lectures, for these are often the spoken or unspoken authorities to which he refers. They stand for attitudes that he presupposed even as the audience changed from students in Jena, who were supposed to be learning something, to a Berlin monde , generally receptive to literature and culture, but who wanted their instruction admixed with a little pleasure.
From the Berlin cycle he selected only relatively small extracts for publication, proof that they were in his eyes not yet ready for wider distribution. Their inner relationship with the later series in Vienna is complex and will occupy us in due course. In some cases—the fine arts are one—he went on to frame things more systematically in a different context. In others—Dante for instance—different and more pressing needs crowded in and caused a project to be left effectively in an abandoned state.
Yet we also see him moving away from this eurocentric view and seeking increasingly to accommodate Sanskrit into his general scheme of things. These readings—we unfortunately no longer have all of his versions — were a concession to a more popular, non-academic style. Unlike the Vienna cycle of , which were followed almost immediately by publication and translation into French and English , the Berlin Lectures had their greatest effect on those who were actually there.
Antiquarian endeavours by others, too, played their part in evoking and rediscovering this past poetic age, its magic and charm and its occasional barbarities. One example: his remarks on the history and theory of language in two of the Berlin cycles and in Europa draw heavily on material from Die Horen and the Jena lectures and have a certain finality. Then there are nearly two decades of silence on the subject until he starts corresponding with Wilhelm von Humboldt in the s.
Sometimes the emphasis in Berlin is different from what went before. His successive remarks on Dante in the s had been a semi-biographical account, then translations in extract mainly from Inferno , with his remarks in the Athenaeum tending more towards the religious content. Aristophanes, deftly characterised in the Parny review in the Athenaeum , but perfunctorily dealt with in Berlin, would similarly have to wait until Vienna for a fuller treatment. With his accustomed meticulousness, Schlegel planned his four lecture cycles, three in public and one in private, well in advance.
These were not idle considerations, for Schlegel went to considerable pains to make his offerings rather better than those of some professor or other from a Gymnasium or academy. We hear of two Polish counts. The publisher Reimer attended. Schlegel sent a transcript of his first lecture cycle to Schelling in Jena, who used it for his own lectures on the philosophy of art in No-one would have expected absolute originality from his remarks his section on music is largely taken from Rousseau, for instance.
The more academically inclined were also catered for. Readers of the writings of the Romantics would be aware that Fichte, Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, Schelling were aiming at an encyclopaedic encompassment of knowledge. There were of course differences. Schlegel is concerned that theory what should be is always linked with history what was.
It is history that imposes a system on the chaos of individual manifestations. Above all, poetry—the real subject of these lectures—cannot exist unless language and imagination come together in mythology, that state where reality is suspended and human intuition recreates a new unity of nature and mind, a sense of the essential and ultimate truths of human existence.
Without mythology—and each lecture cycle states this categorically—there can be no poetry. The Greeks had it, the Middle Ages knew it, we must recapture it through the creative imagination in poetry. For poetry in its true sense brings together in a synthesis philosophy, moral awareness and religion. There were clear examples to be cited and distinctions to be made. When he spoke of the pure and ultimate forms of art, unattainable in imitation, he invoked the ancient world of the Greeks, their language showing the highest development, their mythology predicated on the noblest ideals of humanity.
Their art forms had each a distinct purpose, without admixture or contamination. It is the statement that comes near the end of the first cycle, before it abruptly ends, and it is one that Schlegel develops into a principle in his Vienna Lectures. All was not lost: translations, properly conceived, especially those into German, might retrieve some of the texture of past cultures. Here Schlegel breaks off and launches into that philippic on modern German literature, a version of which was to feature so prominently in Europa. One can only guess at the motives behind the scission of his lecture course into two disjunct sections.
It was time to tell some home truths, to set out positions, to distinguish the excellent from the mediocre. But Schlegel also reminded his hearers that there were, and always had been, higher universal principles of renewal, the phoenix arising from the ashes, ebb and flow, expansion and contraction, and that is why he could end this section with the names of Winckelmann, Lessing, Hemsterhuis, and Goethe.
It should not be forgotten that he was also reading out extracts in translation to his audience, not all of whom would be conversant with Greek. Thus his relatively short section on Aeschylus presupposes his quoting aloud of a passage from the Eumenides. When explicating Greek metres, he could read his own examples. He had of course already stated unequivocally in the previous cycle that the Greeks were unsurpassable, so that when he went through their achievement, genre by genre, and compared it with what had come since, no further elucidation was necessary.
By excluding oratory, rhetoric and historiography, he may have been unfair to the Romans. Only Horace and Propertius emerge really unscathed. By contrast, he had praise for their didactic poetry, but of course he was himself a practitioner of the genre. There was little hope for Virgil, not to speak of later aberrations like Milton or Der Messias. Tragedy is based on the conflict of these principles, but—here again the recreator of Ion speaks—it need not end in unhappiness. The essentials were, however, there.
Greek mythology expressed the force of higher necessity; it involved human sacrifice; its beginnings were darkly orgiastic. It was this mythology that informed Greek tragedy, in conflict with human striving. The section on Sophocles makes it clear where his preferences in tragedy lie. The renewer of Ion does not see only starkness and bleakness. The things that he was doing as a sideline to the lectures now found their way into his general definition of Romanticism in the preamble of Romantic poetry arose out of the fusion of the Romance and the Germanic, the interaction of the North and South pagan and Christian, if one will.
It reflected his interest in both the Nordic and Germanic and the southern Romance. His correspondence with Tieck in these Berlin years speaks of studies of the Nibelungenlied —Tieck was preparing an edition—and the need to procure copies of Icelandic sagas for comparison and collation, or of the Latin Waltharius epic. His remarks on the Nibelungenlied , kept accessible to the needs of the audience, were to be backed up privately by a battery of notes and collations towards the establishment of a definitive text.
It was yet another project that was destined eventually to fall by the wayside. Rather it is disjunct and often repetitive, overlapping with earlier sections. Romantic poetry did not emerge as some gathered, phalanx-like entity, somemasswith but a few national divergences. Its terms of reference were still very wide. It encompassed the Middle Ages. That was itself a period of time that extended from the migrations and Late Latin until in Germany at least the late sixteenth century.
It was subject to all manner of incursions and influences and coincidences. Genres, like the romance and the chap book, extended beyond any linguistic barriers. The Middle Ages, as Schlegel conceived them, were the synthesis of many disparate forces. They were Christian, chivalrous, monastic. The Crusades brought in the Orient. The feudal system fostered a code of honour, of courtly love, of pious devotion to the Virgin. It is crucial for the later development of Italian and Spanish and to some extent Middle High German.
In contrast with the querulous tone of his previous cycle, Schlegel is prepared, in this his last one, to be more conciliatory and more even-handed. In his short conspectus of older German literature, he already retracts the assertion, made in , that German literature as such is hardly more than seventy years old. For he now gives an account of older figures who in would not be household names if indeed they ever were. Like his brother Friedrich in another context, he is mapping out lines of continuity in German poetry, not registering its breaks such as the Reformation.
Thus his audience could hear praise for the old poeta doctus Martin Opitz, the founder of modern German poetics, and would note less familiar names like Weckherlin, Fleming, Hofmannswaldau, Lohenstein, even the Jesuit poet Spee, for the Romantics are among the first to point out that German religious poetry is not all Protestant.
The answer to this is to be found in the important lecture on the Nibelungenlied. It is mythical, Christianising older myths and legends and weaving several historical strands into one. It is ancient, drawn from a putative Latin original, linguistically archaic possibly translated from older sources ; like Homer, it is co-authored.
It combines the moral sense of justice done and the Christian notion of divine retribution. This was heady ideology indeed, significant when but a few years ahead cultural rallying-points were needed amid national downfall and national renewal. Schlegel is still, perhaps faute de mieux , prepared to praise the Heldenbuch , for these attenuated heroic lays did not yet have to face the competition of Wolfram von Eschenbach, Hartmann von Aue or Gottfried von Strassburg, whose Grail cycles were far less known at the turn of the century. Dante was supremely the Christian, Catholic poet, ethereal, mystical, arcanely symbolic.
The Inferno , like Greek tragedy at its starkest, no longer formed part of the narrative. It is fair to say that, had this text been available during the nineteenth century the twentieth took almost no notice of it , we might have been spared much idle theorizing and symbol-hunting. The novella recounts a real happening, factual, everyday, but also out of the ordinary, tragic even.
No more is necessary. How many of his audience sat it out to the very end, attended every lecture, we do not know Bernhardi springs to mind. And yet this being the Schlegel that he was, he could not leave these matters hanging in the air, unjoined and unconnected. They point, not to Vienna, as the main Berlin cycle does, but much further forward in time, to Bonn, to the professor who seemed to have put so much of Romanticism behind him. They are not for the uninitiated or the faint-hearted, which is not to say that everything that they contained was original—far from it—but there were no concessions made for those not prepared for a heavy dose of philosophy, history, and philology.
A much more useful mode of explanation for the processes in history can be found in nature, in antagonism and cohesion, pull and thrust, forces that produce an inner unity. More concretely: only nations that combine mythology and poetry with their oral traditions deserve that name in its full sense. Greek, of course, enjoys a superiority above all others in this family. Before such notions could become reality, there must be criticism, grammatical study, hermeneutic endeavours, the processes that Winckelmann once had used for the study of art, and in our day Friedrich Schlegel was applying to poetry.
It was not unlike the culture of the Brahmins that he was later so to admire. Berlin had not been conducive to such self-abnegation, such anchorite retreat from the real world, nor could it be said that the next decade and a half were any more amenable to this ideal life of scholarly contemplation.