Supplementary Appendix: Ludwig Tieck’s Last Judgment and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung

Ludwig Tieck’s Last Judgment
and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung [*]

For a moment all was quiet, then suddenly, to the enormous surprise of all, everyone perceived a terrible agitation and digging in the ground; great clumps of earth were being thrown about, and the earth seemed to be suffering horribly from birth pangs, which seemed to presage the arrival of several great giants at the very least.

Some guessed it would be Goliath, others ancient titans, but all were wrong, for what emerged was nothing more than great bales of paper with the title Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. “Aye,” an older scholar cried out, “who is not reminded here of Horace’s parturiunt montes?” [1]


The devils had hardly caught sight of this spectacle before several hastened over and pulled out all the papers, whereupon one of them, frightfully aggravated, cried out: “No, forsooth, this is simply too galling, for how can this thing that otherwise never exhibited even a trace of life now claim to participate in universal resurrection? Ah, all you annual issues, you think that here in all this confusion you might just get to slip through? You think that merely acting alive will suffice just as it did in that other life? Ah, but no, my friend; here we will not let ourselves be sold a pig in a poke.”

Whereupon the Literatur-Zeitung presented itself and spoke in Roman font all about the signs of the times and about those high-spirited young men and how the paper was published for sixteen years and how much one got for his money and how it did indeed live and how it etc. etc. —

The Devil, however, and without further ado, grabbed it by its ears and violently tore the “All-” from its head, so that all that remained was Gemeine, [2] and thus was it presented in court.


The judge looked at it without compassion and said: “Did I not command in my laws: Thou shallt not review?”

“But I,” the editor, who lived in the papers, cried out excitedly, “understood it as ‘Thou shallt not reason,’ and indeed, I faithfully kept this commandment; but where, if I may ask, is this commandment written down? for Orientalia are certainly not my area of specialization.”

The judge replied, “it is included in the commandment: Thou shallt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

“If only they had had intelligence,” a philosopher said, “one might have forgiven them their false witness; but there was not a trace to be found.”

“Well, by my soul,” the secretary said from down below, where he was still stuck in the ground like a root, “that is a blatant lie! For everyone knows that we even published our own Intelligenz-Blatt, and that it was even distributed for free!”


“Indeed,” the editor continued, “let this high court pay absolutely no attention to any lampoon against this commendable institution, for the only things one can say against it are either stench or lies.”

“Be not so crude,” the devil shouted at him.

“Why did they tear off one of our ears,” the editor asked.

“Simply to remain in character.”

“No, to the contrary, all-honorable immortals, here we have encountered immensely charming eternity, and I hope now to bring many a volume to publication yet, and since, as it were, a new century is, after all, commencing, let us come up with a whole new plan and keep right up with the times, since one must admittedly not stand still. Well, then, how would it be, gentlemen (you who are interested in literature and in my accident) if here, where we unfortunately see so much life and immortality and that sort of thing before us, things we have no idea what to do with, what if here we were to turn our Literatur-Zeitung, by virtue of our new plan, into an Allgemeine Lethargie-Zeitung; that would be just the thing for us!”

Although he wanted to continue speaking, he along with all the paper was transported down into the realm of nothingness, where he was almost indispensable.


[*] Ludwig Tieck, Das jüngste Gericht; published first in his Poetisches Journal I/1 [1800] 221–46, here 240–44; then in Ludwig Tieck’s Schriften [Berlin 1828], 9:355–57. Back.

[1] Latin, “the mountains labored.” Also in editions of Aesop’s fables. Sixteenth-century illustration from the Spanish edition of Aesop’s fables published by Heinrich Steinhöwel, ed., Libro del sabio [et] clarissimo fabulador Ysopu hystoriado [et] annotado (Sevilla 1521).

The Egyptian king Tachos sent to the Lacedemonians for aid in his war against Artaxerxes Ochus. King Agesilaos went with a contingent, but when the Egyptians saw a little, ill-dressed lame man, they said: “Parturiebat mons; formidabat Jupiter; ille vero murem peperit,” “The mountain laboured, Jupiter stood aghast, and a mouse ran out.” Agesilaos replied, “You call me a mouse, but I will soon show you I am a lion.” In effect, the lines are summed up in the title of Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado about Nothing. Back.

[2] “Ordinary, common; base.” Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott