Letter 249b

249b. Wilhelm Schlegel to Christian Gottfried Schütz in Jena: Jena, 20 October 1799 [*]

[Jena, 20 October 1799]

It was only in Leipzig, my dear Herr Hofrath, that I learned that you honored Athenaeum by mentioning it in a prologue or prelude to a theatrical performance at your home. [1] May I take the liberty of soliciting from you the manuscript to keep for one or two days, since I suspect I and my friends will doubtless derive as much entertainment from a work of your wit as did your own guests. Surely you have no wish to keep such a pleasant jest secret, all the more so insofar as we will always openly acknowledge our own literary delights, just as, as I can assure you, we will similarly own up to various things we have in petto [2] concerning the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Hence I will in full confidence anticipate receiving from you the loyal and cordial communication of said prologue without any deletions or modifications.

I would be glad to send you the comedy about Athenaeum that was performed in Leizpig if I could not already assume without fail that you have already received a copy of it from the venerated author himself and will yourself be bestowing on us a preliminary review of same very soon in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. [3]

Jena, 20 October 1799

A. W. Schlegel [4]


[*] Sources (letters 249b, 249c, 249d): Originally published by Christian Gottfried Schütz in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1800) 62 (Saturday, 10 May 1800) 513–20. Reprinted in Christian Gottfried Schütz. Darstellung seines Lebens 2:428–31; Wilhelm Schlegel, Sämmtliche Werke 11:427–30; Fambach 385–86.

This letter was in some respects the beginning of the end of the relationship between Wilhelm and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, an end prefigured in his exchange of letters with Gottlieb Hufeland in late April 1799 and early May 1799 (letters 235a, 236a) and documented in countless letters during this period. See also, albeit by a resolute adversary of the early Romantics, Garlieb Merkel’s essay on Christian Gottfried Schütz, the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, and Wilhelm Schlegel; also Wilhelm Dilthey on the break between the Romantics and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (supplementary appendix 258a.1) — This quarrel will run largely concurrently and in part intersect with that between Schelling and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, which will be similarly documented in subsequent letters. Back.

[1] Cf. Wilhelm to Goethe on 5 November 1799 (Goethe und die Romantik 57–58; Körner-Wieneke 90):

Perhaps you have already heard about how Herr Hofrath Schütz took considerable liberties against my brother and me in a self-authored prologue on the occasion of a theatrical performance at his home, concerning which I exchanged a couple of rather lively billets with him. Back.

[2] Latin, “privately, secretly.” Back.

[3] August von Kotzebue, Der hyperboreische Esel oder die heutige Bildung. Ein drastisches Drama, und philosophisches Lustspiel für Jünglinge in einem Akt (Leipzig 1799); reprint: Deutsche Litteratur-Pasquille 3 (Leipzig 1907). See Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 21 October 1799 (letter 250) and, for further discussion and excerpts, supplementary appendix 250.1. The piece was performed during the autumn book fair in Leipzig, which began on the Sunday after 29 September (in 1799: 6 October, Michaelmas itself having fallen on a Sunday). Friedrich was present at the performance, but the mayor of Leipzig forbid a second performance. Back.

[4] See Schütz’s response on the same day (letter 249c). Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott