Supplementary Appendix 210.1

Wilhelm Dilthey
The Relationship between
Friedrich Schlegel, Dorothea Veit, and Friedrich Schleiermacher
with regard to Dorothea’s Separation from Simon Veit and the Lucinde Scandal [*]

We earlier discussed the fermentation in our nation’s moral views that came to a head toward the end of the eighteenth century as well as the changes it effected in Berlin society. Although the resulting circumstances, grounded on the rights of passion and genius, intensified for a time the feeling of vitality and creative power of the younger generation, those circumstances were already carrying countless seeds of destruction. And now we can see these seeds begin to sprout. Anyone who reads the most important correspondence of this period at least in its unabridged manuscript form will discern in even the most varied groups of Berlin society the same hostile effects generated by unfettered subjectivity.

Were I not equally disinclined to discuss both the personal circumstances that emerged from that subjectivity as well as my own assessments of those circumstances, I could easily describe painful and embarrassing, even shocking images from the circles around Rahel Levin, August Ferdinand Bernhardi, Sophie and Ludwig Tieck, as well as around Wilhelm and Caroline Schlegel, and Schelling.

That notwithstanding, one among all these developments that comes to play a crucial role in our own story must not go unexamined, namely, the relationship between Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit. It is precisely this development that has been drawn into the light of public discussion in any case, and yet what has been said about it largely goes quite beyond the truth of the matter. It was here, in his own friend, that the fate of this new manner of thinking based on the rights of genius and passion unfolded before Schleiermacher’s very eyes, and here that Schleiermacher experienced the battle with the power of public opinion, the consequences of circumstances, and the disaster in the soul of his close friend — yet without being able to change or thwart the outcome himself. And in the resulting situation, his own grand, moral understanding of friendship victoriously passed its most difficult test. . . .

Henriette Herz relates how within the circle of young girls with whom she grew up, one surpassed all the others in intellectual capacity, knowledge, and a fiery imagination, namely, Dorothea, the daughter of Moses Mendelssohn. In her father’s house, amid modest circumstances and together with her five siblings, she was surrounded by rigorous order, clear, sober thinking, a beautiful family life, noble hospitality, and an atmosphere of distinguished intelligent conviviality. Although all the powers of her rich and varied nature were stimulated within this atmosphere characterized by reasoned understanding, they were just as quickly repressed when rapturous enthusiasm and a vehement sense of independence developed and found fertile ground for growth among her female friends. “My fate,” she later laments, “has always been to be condemned to torment myself amid the disharmony with which I was born and which will never leave me.” [1]

Her father must have sensed very little of her inner life when, without even inquiring concerning her own inclinations, he married her off to the banker Simon Veit, whose nobility of character had not yet fully developed and whose restricted education and charmless personality repelled Dorothea. Such as she was, however, she wasted away in this relationship despite seeming to be surrounded by good fortune and happiness. Even so, when Henriette Herz once mentioned the possibility of a separation, Dorothea resolutely dismissed the notion out of consideration for her father. Then, however, she met Friedrich Schlegel, probably shortly after his arrival in Berlin during the summer of 1797.

It likely quickly became clear that the intellectual bond that was developing between these two would take a considerably more passionate turn than did, for example, that between Schleiermacher and Henriette Herz or between Schiller and Caroline von Wolzogen. With the uncompromising, tempestuous inwardness peculiar to her, Dorothea wholly embraced the hope of finally bringing peace to this restless, perpetually unsatisfied personality — a possibility the mere mirage of which has repeatedly deceived precisely this sort of noble woman. He in his own turn, for the first time following the ruinous circumstances and events of the earlier years of his youth, found a noble, emotionally mature, intellectually highly gifted woman who was prepared to surrender her entire soul to him.

And such was precisely what his own personality — itself both infinitely needy and infinitely incapable of true surrender with respect to love — demanded, and both his yearning and — sad to say — his pride were satisfied once this woman resolved to ally her fate with his own. What then happened painfully surprised even their closest friends. When as early as the autumn of 1798 a separation from Simon Veit was imminent, Caroline Schlegel, too, strongly advised against it. Henriette Herz and Schleiermacher, deeply disturbed by the events and wholly unanimous in their condemnation of them, had made every effort to conciliate and arrange things. But in vain. In mid-December 1798, Dorothea left her husband’s house.

In so doing, she put herself into an extraordinarily and painfully awkward situation, one that grievously transgressed against custom. Given the circumstances and laws governing marriages between Jews and Christians, there could initially be no thought of marriage. Dorothea would have had to convert to Christianity, and the daughter of Moses Mendelssohn resisted taking such a step against her conscience. Her mother, moreover, was still alive, for whom such a step would have caused tremendous pain and grief. And finally, she would have had to separate herself from the one son Veit had allowed her custody of, namely, Philipp Veit, who would subsequently become a famous painter, and surrender any direct influence over the other son as well, something she could as little bring herself to do.

Hence while the matter of the divorce was being settled [11 January 1799], she moved into a solitary apartment in what at the time was a remote part of the city, on Ziegelstrasse.

[Grundriss der Königl. Residenzstädte Berlin Im Jahr 1786 von neuen zusammengetragen und gestochen durch D. F. Sotzman (Berlin, Stettin 1786), on which the French Theater is the rectangular edifice labeled “vvv” at the lower right (the Tiergarten begins at the left of the map); note also the Charité hospital complex to the west, where Friedrich lived with Schleiermacher:]



[Here Dorothea’s apartment at no. 4 in an excerpt from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin (1810):]


In Berlin itself, of course, this whole affair caused a considerable stir. Only a few friends stood by her in her decision; though unable to approve of what she had done, they did understand her motivation and thus stood by her. Henriette Herz declared to her husband, who was insisting on a complete cessation of any contact with her, that she could not possibly abandon her old, beloved friend in such circumstances. Rahel, too, remained loyal. Despite the potential repercussions with respect to his own position, Schleiermacher openly supported her, eating with Friedrich Schlegel at her apartment daily, as did Fichte after his relocation to Berlin. [2] After the possibility of marriage moved ever further into the future, Dorothea accepted Caroline Schlegel’s invitation to come to Jena.

The motives guiding Friedrich and Dorothea over the course of these events were quite different. Dorothea’s memory and Schleiermacher’s own participation demand that such be fully disclosed.

Friedrich Schlegel’s motives deserve severe and unconditional condemnation. Here the full duplicity of his character emerges, a character that from the earliest years of his youth focused in an unbridled fashion solely on importance, fame, and the complete development and enjoyment of all his powers, and a character willing to use everything and everyone as a means to achieve this goal in the struggle of life. For a time, Schleiermacher and Fichte saw only his objective goals, his efforts to attain them; thus did he gain the friendship of the former and the respect and interest of the latter. “He is,” Fichte wrote to Reinhold after a lengthier, more intimate acquaintance, “an essentially good person who is striving indefatigably for what is best.” [3]

But with respect to this entire matter, especially in his letters to Caroline, a similarly disposed personality to whom he thus tended to open himself up without shyness — suddenly the dishonest and selfish elements of this personality emerge quite unadorned, elements lurking behind those grand objective goals, and one is shocked to see the same personality emerge — in which that particular confusion of passion emerged during his youth — unchanged and untouched by any preoccupation with “higher” ideas or by friendship with noble human beings. In a letter of 27 November 1798 [letter 210], shortly before Dorothea’s separation from Veit, that particular attitude emerges with which he will accept the greatest sacrifice a woman can bring:

A civil union has never really been our goal even though for some time now I have considered it impossible that anything short of death itself could separate us. — It does, I acknowledge, run wholly contrary to my own feelings to balance and calculate the present and future in such a way; and if the hated ceremony (something neither appropriate nor possible) were to become the only condition of that inseparability, then I would act according to the exigencies of the moment and destroy my most cherished ideas. — But even if I look past that consideration and everything else as well, the age difference alone would be reason enough militating against it for me. Just now, when we are both still young, it does not really make any difference at all that she is seven years older.

I confess I myself am loath to peer more deeply into this admixture of ridiculous hatred toward church marriage and pathetically selfish sensuousness. He wants to possess without having to limit himself. Out of the reputation, honor, and inner peace of the woman he loves, he wants to construct a life happiness of precisely the sort he thinks he needs — to write his books. “Rejoice,” he writes to Caroline after everything has indeed come about, “that my life now has a firm grounding and footing as well as a center and distinct form. Extraordinary things can happen now!” [letter 212]. Nemesis, however, playfully shattered his illusions, for from this step onward, his life was to remain perpetually unstable.

Assessing Dorothea’s behavior in this affair with respect to the general mode of thinking and morals of the time and of her circle, with respect also to individual morality, on the one hand, and the inviolable commandment of the moral order elevated above every instance of personal fate, on the other — is an insoluble task. Doubtless no judge of moral motivation at the time was more resolutely severe than Fichte. Given Dorothea’s own passionately open personality, the sort of error Friedrich Schlegel committed was not even remotely possible. Fichte in his own turn commended Dorothea with the following words to his wife when Dorothea was about to move to Jena:

I really do owe it to both you and Madam Veit urgently to commend this woman to you. Although it may sound odd to hear me praising a Jewess, this woman has altered my earlier belief that nothing good could come of this nation. She possesses both intellect and knowledge to an uncommon degree amid little, or actually no external attractiveness, yet with an utter lack of pretention and considerable good-heartedness. Although it is only little by little that one grows fond of her, one then does so all the more ardently. I hope you two will become good friends. . . .

Although she is not married with Fr. Schlegel, nor will she likely every be, the tenderness with which she is nonetheless taking care of him is truly touching, and I myself consider this choice the very best thing that could have happened to Schlegel — considering he is, after all, this particular Schlegel. [4]

And so also, does she appear to us today in her letters, which reflect her inner life with animated expression. The loose morals of the time were repugnant to her serious disposition, which emerged within the beauty of true family life. She would have been incapable of such deception, and she remained faithful to her spouse over the entire course of their marriage. [5]

When in the circle in which she lived she came to view as a prejudice in its own turn the inviolability of the social order in which the objective and true existence of individual morality is to be found, that is, when her own objective moral understanding became confused despite her noble will — a fate to which in decadent societies it is precisely sincere and searching personalities who so easily succumb, since those who acquire the power to intensify the moral disposition of society through convictions based on ideas also easily fall prey to the fate of disastrously disrupting that same moral disposition through their own errors — but when Dorothea did dare to follow her own misled heart alone, she at once also sacrificed to this deceptive dream her reputation, prosperity, and peace of mind — moreover, quite consciously — all in order to provide peace for the man she loved. Nor did such take place without her female sensibility suffering profoundly and painfully. After making Fichte’s acquaintance during the summer of 1799, she writes to Caroline [letter 241a]:

It is simply that I still have a certain fear with regard to Fichte, though such is caused less by him than by my own circumstances with the world and with Friedrich — I fear — — but perhaps I am mistaken.

A strange contradiction, and yet none at all given her personality. Even while she herself was transgressing against custom and morals, the most beautiful sense of family comes to expression in all her statements. Quite in a similar vein did she approach Wilhelm and Caroline with the seriousness of sisterly affection. She saw the similarly disposed members of the circle united into a single family in spirit, and believed in the more lofty moral order that was to develop from all the various hurt and injury.

Here, too, she differed from many of the other much-renowned women of the time, and not least from Friedrich himself. Precisely the fact that the path she had chosen would be full of privation and would require tremendous effort gave her a sense of security and serenity. She wrote to earn money for Friedrich, and never is she more charming then when she is speaking about these works. She worked on translations, descriptions of paintings, and on the first volume of the novel Florentin, whose continuation was prevented by her own ill health. [6] It has quite justifiably been pointed out that this particular novel is probably to be reckoned among the “very best that Romanticism produced in the genre of the novella.” [7]

Although at the time Dorothea herself was surrounded by worry and care, she was nonetheless able to fill this story with the spirit of the brightest, most beautiful joy of life. And although she possessed far more immediate artistic talent than Friedrich, she nonetheless felt herself to be a mere “tradeswoman” compared with him. “What I can do, however, can be found within the following parameters: provide him with peace and quiet, and myself earn bread by engaging in a humble trade until he can do so. And I have sincerely resolved to do exactly that.” [8]

And she did exactly that, from Berlin to Paris, from there to Cologne, from Cologne to Vienna, from the convictions of the young Jena school to those of Catholicism, all the while sharing privation, disappointment, and a perpetual struggle with life. Alongside the judgment of the world, she soon also had to bear the feeling that her sacrifice had been in vain, and likely also had to bear the pain concerning Friedrich’s own personality as it gradually unveiled itself before her. There was something heroic in her. Even when things failed, she did not find that it was his fault; no, “I have become convinced that I only hinder his moving forward . . . I firmly believe that after my death things will go quite well for Friedrich.” [9]

To the extent one is able to assess Schleiermacher’s behavior amid all these entanglements, one cannot but admire the grandeur of his self-enclosed character. Every moral view is always associated with action in him, never merely with an idea or thought. Every word, every deed is permeated and as if sated by the ideas sustaining it. He truly is a practical thinker quite after the model of antiquity; thought and act constitute a single, trenchantly articulated shape, which is why it is always a joy to see him act.

Even the weaknesses of his virtues present themselves with such simplicity, lacking any dissimulation of nature, which in its own turn likely conceals the weaker elements of his character at the cost of its grander interrelationships. Even at that time, those in his immediate surroundings marveled — and were occasionally shocked — at the audacity and blindness of his idealism. Perhaps such occurred for the first time precisely with respect to his relationship with Friedrich as it had now developed, which was indeed the conscious expression of the entire, grand, one-sided way he understood people.

From the very outset, he disapproved of and lamented what was happening. For a time, he was so upset by these entanglements that he was unable to write anything genuinely coherent even to his sister. In vain did he attempt, together with Henriette Herz, to mediate and prevent the worst from happening. It is certain that Friedrich was by no means as open with him concerning his own motives as he was with Caroline. Friedrich Schlegel was one of those human beings who expose quite different sides of their personality to their various friends.

In these particular entanglements, however, their differences were so great that for the entire, decisive winter [1798–99] they merely lived and spoke externally alongside each other. Schleiermacher was equally resolute and frank in disapproving of the next step Friedrich took along this steep downward path, namely, when Friedrich began portraying his relationship with Dorothea in Lucinde in the wholly transparent guise of fiction. Drawing on an incisive but devastating turn of phrase, he told Friedrich that this portrayal was little more than a “public exhibition.” [10]

When the disaster could no longer be prevented, namely, neither the unbridled novel itself nor its even more unbridled portrayal, he resolutely insisted on the only possible remaining choice, namely, that Friedrich and Dorothea should marry. Friedrich for his part had in the meantime reacquired a more noble and stable attitude and urgently wanted the marriage. Hence Dorothea turned in this matter to the friend from whom she had regularly sought comfort and advice with regard to her “most important concerns.” [11] She writes to Schleiermacher on 11 April 1800:

You say you have no respect for my reasons for not being baptized and getting married. How is that? If the goal of maintaining at least an indirect influence on the upbringing of my children does not deserve respect, then I know not how else I might attain such from you, especially considering what happiness I forego solely for the sake of that goal. . . .

We would probably also come to a better understanding with you and with our best friends were it to happen; after all, all of you are in favor of it! – Well, if you think it right and the best thing given our situation, then let it happen! But only under the condition that you yourself perform both ceremonies, since it must absolutely be kept secret and revealed only at the proper time. Apart from you, I consider Fichte and Alexander Dohna to be my best friends, so you can relate everything to them and consider with them how best to arrange these things.

I think all of you would get on better with us if we were married; also Hardenberg and Charlotte. Who would not do out of love for such friends what one might otherwise perhaps not have done? [12]

“Your reasons for advising against secrecy,” she write shortly thereafter, on 28 April 1800, “are sound; I myself immediately felt rather anxious regarding it, and indeed was thinking of it only in my anxiety.” [13] Henceforth one hears not a single word more on this matter. Here, too, Schleiermacher had to silently do without seeing his friends act in accordance with his convictions. . . .

And yet Schleiermacher did not withdraw from his friends regardless of how far their behavior deviated from his moral ideas. These same ideas, and his own character to the extent it was shaped by those ideas, prompted him quite to the contrary, once he was persuaded concerning the nobility of their volition, to defend with his own person and moral validity their actions from the attacks of the world, trying as well, through every sacrifice available to him, to turn their fate for the better.

It was to Schleiermacher, with his meager income at the time — not an inconsiderable portion of which he was already sending to his sister — that Dorothea trustingly turned with her request that he continue to help Friedrich for the next few years until Friedrich could find a better situation. He and he alone among Schlegel’s friends, many of whom did genuinely share much of the moral sentiment expressed in Lucinde, which was not the case with Schleiermacher himself — he alone undertook in his Briefe über Lucinde [14] to explicate his friend’s way of thinking and mediate it to the world. Indeed, in so doing he even risked his entire external existence. [15] It was through his hands that his friends’ countless business matters passed, which he had to take care of once they had left Berlin. It is inexpressibly painful to watch, even if just in his correspondence, the parade of misery into which he was entangled in this regard. Dorothea writes on 14 February 1800:

Oh, my good friend! I am so ashamed I am giving you so much to do and think about for me; how can I every repay you? When will my letters bring you simple, straightforward joy? Without requests, errands, and worries? What will your reaction be to this enormously long, gossipy letter? Since I was unable at any cost to deal with the loose and boisterous world of the novel today because of all these worries coming from the real world, I resolved instead, lest I fall into stupid melancholy, to write you as much as possible and to chat with you a bit, as it is called.

In that sense I am sitting on your yellow sofa, my feet comfortably up, you are sitting next to me and making jokes and mocking all my worries and my sad countenance! Friedrich looks over at us and thinks about what we are saying, but with such a profound expression that one would swear he is thinking of his new mythology. [16]

The most difficult thing for Schleiermacher, however, was that he remained loyal to his friendship with Friedrich despite their profound differences of opinion and the resultant, painful friction between them. That friendship, however, now acquired a completely different character. Friedrich’s behavior increasingly destroyed the former element of complete understanding between them, and as early as the summer of 1799 a break seemed unavoidable.

It was during the second half of June; they had eaten together at Dorothea’s, were taking a walk in Bellevue, and had a “wonderful conversation” in which, as was often the case in such conversations, they “probably did not understand each other.” [17] Friedrich was searching for Schleiermacher’s “center” for his own review of the Reden, [18] and they were, not surprisingly, unable to come to any agreement.

As insignificant an episode as this was, it nonetheless prompted mutual remarks about how they simply no longer understood each other. “Nor,” Schleiermacher wrote to Henriette Herz, [19] “does he understand my relationship with him, and interprets my humility and reverential consideration incorrectly, on the basis of which I really do deny myself a great deal.” While Schleiermacher was waiting for the right moment to speak with his friend, already worried that the latter’s vehemence and impatience would confuse everything beforehand, Friedrich himself sent a “farewell” message that he allegedly had been ready to deliver for months. [20]

It was during precisely this period that Friedrich cultivated more intimate contact with Fichte along with the resulting self-deception concerning that relationship, both of which could not but distance him even further from Schleiermacher. And thus did they part when Friedrich moved to Jena, but without opening up to each other again. . . .

[And yet Schleiermacher] saw how much of this impetuous and coarse behavior on Friedrich’s part was caused by the painful struggles and disappointments of this period in Friedrich’s life. . . . And thus Schleiermacher forgave. Dorothea’s own open trust, including concerning Friedrich, mediated between them. “My dear friend,” she wrote on 28 October 1799 from Jena, “do be kind to Friedrich, for no one is so tormented as he in the face of his lack of success . . . ” She can see now with her own eyes that he was not born to be a writer, and dreams about the time when he will find another career. “So, please, soon, my dear friend, before it is too late for us.” [21]

But from this point on, a profound feeling of sympathy colored Schleiermacher’s attitude toward his former housemate and friend, along with pain at the distortion of Friedrich’s rich, imaginative disposition and character by his circumstances, and finally the intimation of a tragic ending. . . .

Editor’s note: Wilhelm Dilthey drew some material for this essay from the following section of Henriette Herz. Ihr Leben und ihre Erinnerungen, ed. J. Fürst, 2nd ed. (Berlin 1858), 112–15:

Mendelssohn, an otherwise excellent person, did nonetheless commit the injustice of not inquiring concerning his daughters’ own inclinations when they got married, though neither did he really coerce them in this respect. Dorothea had been my childhood playmate. She married a year before I myself did, but also — like me as well — extremely early. Mendelssohn’s keen eye already saw in this man he had chosen for her, namely, the banker Veit, the excellent character traits in the embryo stage, as it were, that would later emerge; for the daughter, however, it was not enough merely to point to the future, and her father was quite mistaken when he believed she would recognize the man’s potential just as Mendelssohn himself had.

But how is an ardently imaginative, vivacious seventeen-year-old, schooled by such a father, — for he had written his Morgenstunden [Morgenstunden oder Vorlesungen über das Dasein Gottes (1785)] specifically for her and her eldest brother — and reared in a house frequented by the most refined and intellectually distinguished persons, — how could such a girl love a man who at the time had a very limited education and to her seemed to be little more than a philistine merchant, nor even possessed any externally advantageous features, being instead of a rather ugly countenance and with an unappealing build?

Only later would this man’s lofty morality and his truly noble disposition emerge, and only later would he himself make a concerted effort to become intellectually cultivated as well, something he pursued to the end of this life. She did not love him when she gave him her hand, nor did she ever come to love him, and even after she became better acquainted with him, she merely came to respect him. Her own young life had been nipped in the bud.

I lost sight of her after her wedding. Then a few days after my own I encountered her on the street. We spoke a great deal in but a few minutes, and afterward I knew, much to my dismay, that she was not happy.

The presumption would be quite off the mark, however, that despite how little internal satisfaction she found in her marital circumstances she might have entertained an inclination for another man, and just as little did the couple’s external life lead one to suspect any disagreement. But she was languishing, and I perceived that she was so unhappy that I myself later spoke with her about separating from her spouse. She, however, resolutely rejected the suggestion, being unwilling at any price to inflict the pain such a step would inevitably cause to her family, and especially to her father. — Yet not even the birth of two sons, the later painters Johann and Philipp Veit, could bestow a higher consecration on the circumstances of the marriage.

Then, however, Friedrich Schlegel came to Berlin. Reichardt had directed him to me, and it was at my home that he saw his later wife for the first time. And even at this first, chance meeting, the impression she made on him was so powerful that even I noticed it. It was not long before the feeling was mutual, for Schlegel could indeed be called a charming man, able to please any woman he chose to please.

Now, however, a separation in her marriage did indeed become necessary. With her heart filled by another man, one who presented a so much more imaginative and radiant appearance than her husband, whom she had never loved in any case, any continuation of her marital alliance would in the long run have been a torment for Dorothea. Nor was the hindrance that had originally prompted her to reject any notion of separation now a factor, for her father had long since passed away [1786]. As an intimate friend of both marital partners, I was best suited to conduct the attendant negotiations, and I engaged in this enterprise, one that was indeed quite critical, on behalf of both partners.

Veit initially wanted to hear nothing of any separation. Amid the externally completely harmonious, indeed cordial circumstances between the two spouses, he hardly suspected how dissatisfied his wife really was. I was constrained to open up to him a view into her inner life, and this finally prompted his consent. He acted quite magnanimously toward her, for she was without paternal fortune, and he was able to act thus without really assuming the appearance of magnanimity by granting her custody of the eldest son and paying a generous pension for him.

Later, at the urgent requests of the mother, he also granted her custody of the second son as well, I believe when she was in Bonn. — He never slackened in his active concern for his earlier, genuinely highly gifted spouse. He saw her often afterward, once, among other places, in Dresden, and when the Schlegel couple was not doing so well, as was the case, for example, even in Vienna, she received generous support from him without even knowing whence it came.

The new marriage could not immediately follow on the dissolution of the first. Dorothea took an apartment on Ziegelstrasse, in what at the time was a rather isolated part of the city, since the area around this street was still almost completely undeveloped; there she set up her own household. I do not recall that Schlegel lived with her, but he ate with her and was almost always with her; he was engaged in important literary work at precisely that time, and he liked to work in her presence, and indeed also with her advice.

The elements of this relationship that transgressed custom could not be denied. And just as in general in the case of a woman any transgression against custom is almost always virtually equated with one against morality, so also is the malicious world only too eager to presuppose immorality in such cases given even the slightest occasion to do so. The relationship undeniably created a considerable stir. My own husband would have preferred that I break off all contact with this childhood friend. I explained to him that although he was certainly master of his own house, I nonetheless requested that he allow me to continue to follow my own views with respect to my contacts outside his house, and also explained that I would never abandon such a dear friend in so difficult a situation. —

Nor did Schleiermacher take offense at maintaining contact with them. At precisely this time, he had considerable contact both with Dorothea as well as with Schlegel, with the latter of whom he was at the time working on a translation of Plato, which he later completed alone. He had had absolutely no objections to Dorothea’s divorce from Veit, since in his view at the time such a marriage in fact constituted a desecration of marriage.

Such cohabitation between Schlegel and Dorothea, however, did indeed make their relationship with their friends rather difficult insofar as it was precisely at this time that Lucinde was published. For now everyone who was not that closely acquainted with the couple maintained that in this book, which was immediately decried as being immoral even though it was meant simply as a transfiguration of physical love, Schlegel had essentially described his relationship with Dorothea, and be that portrayal ever so veiled.

This was simply ridiculous. Nothing about Dorothea was sensually attractive, nothing beautiful about her except her eyes, out of which admittedly her amiable disposition and lightning-quick intellect radiated — but otherwise absolutely nothing, neither her face nor figure, not even her hands and feet, which, after all, are often quite handsome even in otherwise plain women.


[*] Wilhelm Dilthey, Leben Schleiermachers (Berlin 1870), 468–77; 3rd ed. (1970), 480–86. — Dilthey’s pronounced moral position comes to trenchant expression in this section. — Footnotes by the present editor. Back.

[1] From Paris in 1803 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:344; Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:115). Back.

[2] In July 1799. Back.

[3] Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s Leben und litterarisches Wirken: nebst einer Auswahl von Briefen Kant’s, Fichte’s, Jacobi’s und andrer philosophirender Zeitgenossen an ihn, ed. Ernst Reinhold (Jena 1825), 220. Back.

[4] Letter of 13 September 1799 from Berlin (Fichte Briefwechsel (1930), 2:154–55; Gesamtausgabe 4:4:78). Back.

[5] Later correspondence suggests Dilthey had a rather naive understanding of Dorothea with respect to these points. Back.

[6] Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Lübeck 1801). More than her health was responsible for Dorothea’s decision not to continue the novel; see letter 393i. Back.

[7] Julian Schmidt, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im 19. Jahrhundert, 3 vols., 2nd ed. (Leipzig 1855), vol. 1: Weimar und Jena in den Jahren 1794 bis 1806, 408. Back.

[8] Letter of 14 February 1800 (letter 258m). Back.

[9] From Paris in 1803 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:344; Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:115). Back.

[10] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:113. Back.

[11] 28 April 1800 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:172). Back.

[12] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:168; for full text see supplementary appendix 263.1. Back.

[13] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:172. Back.

[14] Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde zur richtigen Würdigung derselben (Lübeck, Leipzig 1800). Back.

[15] Schleiermacher was employed by the church. Back.

[16] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:155–56; KFSA 25:64–65. Back.

[17] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 1:226. Back.

[18] Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (Berlin 1799). Back.

[19] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 1:228. Back.

[20] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:117. Back.

[21] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:128. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott