Caroline’s Draft of a Novel [*]
|662| The protagonist of the novel would be a woman — whom we shall call Gabriele — an independent and simultaneously charming creature. At first glance, the element of foolishness would inevitably emerge more prominently than that of reason; and that element would represent her more seductive side, a side she herself cultivates more out of a sense of fun that out of frivolousness.
Inside her, however there would dwell dignity, nobility, and the most sacred earnestness of a beautiful heart. Her intellect and mind would have to be bright, clear, an inherent part of her being, and also cultivated — though her excessively active receptivity might occasionally confuse it — the only condition in which we are not permitted to see her is one in which she is utterly blinded; even where she passionately loves, and where her passion is in fact in the wrong, she must inevitably sense it, almost know it, and must merely be deceiving herself through some other excuse. That is what enables her to hope that she might conquer or complement a beloved’s faults or shortcomings.
Although she is certainly permitted to love with abandon, if in the very next moment following such an hour of bliss she is then challenged in some way, she must be able to depend entirely and solely on herself. |663| Distress, love, pleasure, instead of obscuring, must instead illuminate once more, as if with bolts of lightning, the kind clear-headed thinking that she has perhaps neglected in such cases. She can be swept along without feeling deceived afterward — he is deceived who thinks he has deceived her.
Instinctively and without prejudice, rationalization generally presents more reasons against others than in her favor. She adheres to external custom and propriety in all things, not so much on principle as from habitual modesty. She is to be always radiant when animated, but not always immediately come across as animated. Some people may acknowledge only her domestic virtues. Without ever really having gotten to know herself, she is cast out into the world at an early age. No tender bonds link her to the initial, almost insignificant period of her youth — after the death of her father, she has no close next of kin, and the man to whom she was married off died at an early age.
Her powers of reflection necessarily awaken when she finds herself so entirely alone as if before the gates of an existence the intimation of whose fullness now begins to stir within her — her powers of reflection, her nonetheless unaffected sense of trust, but no proud self-consciousness, nor smug confidence in some heaven-on-earth that might correspond to that which she senses within her own breast.
We can perhaps assume that her father was a scholar, and that she lost her mother at an early age. Alone alongside her father, she acquired considerable knowledge without it having any more genuine connection with her own mind and intellect. Only later did that knowledge come to her assistance. Her father may well have been a philologist, and might have told her of Homer and Sappho and in return had her play the piano or sing romances for him.
Though he doubtless did not lack sense and soul, as one can see, nonetheless there are people who have such and yet cannot really communicate them, people |664| who lack that all-encompassing conception and who believe that what is sublime is there only for them, and only in their study and in their books — there alone are they able to recognize it, for they are wholly unfamiliar with the real, living world.
Gabriele’s beauty attracted a husband. This husband was young and upright, but otherwise not such that he could have wakened her mind, her heart from the slumber of childhood. He left her a modest fortune. She returned to her father’s house — until the latter died. During this interim period, she met Waller. She is not yet twenty years old.
[*] Source: Erich Schmidt (1913), 1: 662–64. Erich Schmidt’s remarks concerning the manuscript in 1913, ibid., 1:764:
Three octavo sheets breaking off after the first third of page 6; only a couple of corrections dating to an indefinite period in Jena, probably 1798 to 1799, when Friedrich Schlegel was urging her to write a “short novel” (Friedrich’s letters to Caroline on 20 October, 29 October 1798, and March 1799 [letters 205, 207, 225]) and even Friedrich von Hardenberg was urging her to do so (Hardenberg to Caroline on 27 February 1799 [letter 223]).
As early as 28 June 1796, in a leter to Schiller (letter 163i), Wilhelm Schlegel mentions “Caroline’s “narrative, which you yourself now have,” albeit without identifying the narrative more closely.
When Ludwig Theoboul Kosegarten dedicated poems to Caroline in 1798 with “her name printed out quite commendably,” Friedrich wrote to Schleiermacher after mid-July 1798 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:83; KFSA 24:150):
Karoline, who continues to be quite keen on you, has just had a great fright. A package arrived from Kosegarten, the crazy man, who is dedicating a book in his even crazier poems to her as his lady friend and with her name printed out quite commendably as well. (Another is dedicated to Friedrich Schiller, yet another to Friedrich Richter, etc. — exquisitely harmonious company.) Now, I say, she can do what all of us want her to do — namely, write a novel. The excuse of being female is now a thing of the past, and now she has finally been introduced to the literary world.
Friedrich is referring to Ludwig Theoboul Kosegarten, Poesieen, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1798). The two volumes are divided into three parts each (through-numbered across the two volumes), each of which Kosegarten calls a Buch. The different “books” contain varying numbers of poems and each book is dedicated to a different person, whose names are printed in considerably larger font than the rest of the dedication (whence Friedrich’s allusion to Caroline’s name being “printed out quite commendably”). For example, book 1 in volume 1 is dedicated to “His friend Friedrich Schiller”; book 3 in volume 1 to “His lady friend Wilhelmine von Humboldt.” Book 5 in volume 2 (the dedication is printed between pages 164 and 167) is dedicated to “His lady friend Caroline Schlegel” and contains twenty-three poems. Book 6 in volume 2 is dedicated to (Jean Paul) Friedrich Richter. Here the dedication to Caroline and the accompanying illustration:
Click on the image below to open a gallery of the illustrations to both editions of Kosegarten’s poems (1798, 1802):
Translation © 2012 Doug Stott