Caroline and Schelling’s Collective Review of 11 Novels 1806

(5) Collective Review of 11 Novels by Bss. (Caroline and Schelling)

Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1806) 35 (Tuesday, 11 February 1806), 273–80.

Erich Frank provides the following preface to this collective review of eleven novels by Schelling and Caroline: [1]

All the books discussed in this review were published at Easter 1805 and probably sent on to Schelling soon thereafter. That these novels were on the agenda emerges from a letter Caroline wrote in August 1805; [2] the review was received on 3 February 1806. That same day, Eichstädt reported to Goethe that “Schelling has again sent in some extremely nice reviews of several novels from the unknown hand that . . . will be printed up immediately.” [3] Eichstädt did not thank Schelling until 4 March 1806, albeit with the following flattering assessment: “It would be very desirable if all the reviews under the so-called belletristic rubric were as substantive and solid and yet simultaneously so delicate as those you passed along.”

That Schelling and Caroline authored this review together emerges from its style. Those who have noted the stylistic peculiarities of the preceding reviews [4] cannot fail to discern Schelling’s hand in sentences such as the following: “It is not so much this particular instinct that the reading public lacks as an instinct for a book’s readability in general”; or in the sentence with the philosophical distinction between thinking and perception: “The former consists of chastising rhapsodies . . . from which no one can or ever will derive even a single comprehensible idea or semblance of a perception.” [5]

This abstract style predominates throughout the introductory remarks and in the discussion of the first three books, whereas what follows (from the discussion of Das unglückliche Weib on, viz., the sentence “The story of an unfortunate woman [Das unglückliche Weib] is composed with equal daftness . . . “) clearly exhibits Caroline’s writing style. One need adduce but a few examples to prove this assertion: “since they do not present, as it were, the image of a feminine being who is drawn into the labyrinth of love through her enticing surroundings and the usual weaknesses, but rather of a being who by nature is destined to allow herself to be abused however circumstances determine; that is, indeed a Röschen — a diminutive rose — that was already withered in the bud”; or “The first is at once also characterized by the most refined decorum, and both in this respect as well as with respect to its unforced and agreeable language quite worthy of a feminine quill.” Caroline is apparently also the author of the review of the Bibliothek der Robinsone and the Bibliothek des Romantisch-Wunderbaren, which was perhaps planned as the conclusion to the review of these eleven novels but then could not be accommodated in the same issue for lack of space. [6]

The Reviews

(5.) Bss. [Caroline and Schelling] Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1806) 35 (Tuesday, 11 February 1806), 273–80.

The following fragments of our belles lettres having been accidentally assembled and now demanding an assessment, it nonetheless seems almost too boring a prospect simply to render a thorough account of each individually with the traditional seriousness, since for all practical purposes most occupy no position at all in and for themselves in any case. Hence the attempt will be made instead to understand them together, within their colorful, more natural interconnection that in its own turn admittedly also represents merely a fragment of that particular, excellent conglomerate providing nourishment for our variously cultured generation. “Food for powder, food for powder,” as Falstaff would put it with respect to his recruits, “they’ll fill a pit as well as better.” [7]

The reading public devours books understandably all the more quickly when it is not possible for it even to see them a second time. It is not so much this particular instinct that the reading public lacks as an instinct for a book’s readability in general. Were a literary journal not obliged to provide assistance in precisely this respect, there would be much material with which it really ought not to deal at all.

That said, however, a condition of most extreme confusion has arisen to the extent reading can be viewed as a form of social entertainment with which to pass one’s time. Although certain lines of demarcation generally otherwise obtain in society separating the various levels of culture one from the other, here absolutely no such demarcation exists; each person participates in everything, and a lending library is now a place of public assembly where class distinctions are suspended throughout the entire year and Saturnalia celebrated without interruption.

Although much, very much indeed is written solely for the lowest classes, the more elevated classes are certainly not scorning such material, and it seems to us that the effects of this situation can be discerned within the larger picture. In this context, however, it does not seem quite reasonable to call solely writers and publishers to account. Perhaps they are merely surrendering themselves over to damnation by necessity insofar as the greater choice remains with the reader, though therefore also the greater share of the blame. That notwithstanding, the initiators and promoters of the following works probably do deserve unsparing reproach:

(1) Erfurt, bei Hennings: Johanne Soutgate [sic], die neue Prophetin in England. Ein Gemählde des Mysticismus aus unsern Tagen. Aus den Memoiren des Herzogs von **ingham und den Ritualien des neu erstandenen Ordens Christi. Vol. 1. 1805. 382 pages. Vol. 2 (final vol.). 286 pages. 8vo. (2 Rthlr. 16 gr.).

(2) Erfurt, bei Hennings: Amalie Balbi. Eine wunderbare Vision, die ich selbst gehabt habe, by Theod. Ferd. Kajetan Arnold, Dr. W.W. and Jurisprudence, teacher at the University of Erfurt. [8] 300 pages. 8vo. (1 Rthlr.).

(3) Erfurt, bei Hennings: Die silberne Kuh, by the author of Das silberne Kalb. Vol. 1. 1805. 386 pages. Vol. 2. 319 pages. Vol. 3 (final vol.). 332 pages. 8vo. (3 Rthlr. 8 gr.).

(4) Erfurt, bei Hennings: Das unglückliche Weib, ein Gemählde aus der jetzigen Welt. Vol. 1. 282 pages. Vol. 2. 222 pages. 8vo. (1 Rthlr. 20 gr.).

Our industrious society engages in the business of churning out books in the crudest fashion and with absolutely no respect for the public. The calculating catalogues of their fabrications are familiar enough from our public newspapers; such are appended to each issue individually as well, usually in a double fashion insofar as citations of praise are dramatically introduced even into the text itself. Moreover, in a peculiar way such citations all also bear the same imprint, it being at once discernible that they do not derive from the same hand.

What we have here is a true witches’ cauldron of literary hackwork; the most varied ingredients are all thrown in together, but what comes out nonetheless betrays their common workshop by way of a stupefying vapor and a certain element of demented lunacy. With respect to the pieces under discussion here, we distinguish two authors: that of Johanne Soutgate and Amalie Balbi, and that of Die silberne Kuh and Das unglückliche Weib. [9]

The former writes flowingly, as the expression goes, with a kind of clarity and wealth deriving from ordinary locution; he takes his objects from whatever the particular day and hour happen to offer, whereby, since he himself invents nothing, he always remains just a bit behind the fashion of the day and yet is nonetheless still capable of fixing it up, as it were, quite amenably for himself.

In Johanne Soutgate, he presents the papers of a young English duke who, ensnared by all sorts of machinations, is to be won over to who-knows-what sort of obscurantist-Illuminati-political purposes and, alongside the other tools, perishes. So, here we have puzzling events that are eventually resolved, visions that go up in smoke, philosophical fragments, and other such adornments. As guarantor, at the end of a dedication to the king of England we have the signature: “The editor, one of the first state administrators and friend of the nation.” The author spares no effort in authenticating things properly; he is deterred not a bit from even the most tasteless elements, proceeding instead with a sense of confidence one might almost take as irony, anticipating that surely at least this or that reader will fall for it.

It seems that in Amalie Balbi he is wearing his own face as a mask. We are admittedly unaware whether a certain Herr Dr. Kajetan Arnold does indeed live in Erfurt and, if so, whether he is capable of assuring us “before God and all the world” that the story he recounts here “is true”; but the entire course of events, the good man’s surroundings, a man making his way in the world by writing books such as these, are presented in so uncommonly natural and true a fashion that they elicit trust even for the ensuing event, notwithstanding, by the way, that event is utterly denuded of all probability and, at least in its main features, has been assembled from other, similar such events.

He has tried, however, to implement that particular bit of deception with an ingenious surrender of his own person, and one seems to be able to discern quite clearly how he has appropriated with genuine sympathy the familiar Wötzelian apparition story, [10] at least obliquely, in which the latter has the reassuring words conferred to himself through his apparition, namely, that things will again go better for him in the world. His purpose, however, is not to deceive himself, but rather merely to provide assistance to himself amid approximately the same distress.

Nor does this Doctor of World Wisdom at all seek to seduce others into believing in supernatural things, being content instead if they but believe the natural ones he recounts. The vision he has had he allows to dissolve utterly into nothing, since the person who had appeared to him as deceased is in fact still living at the end, and indeed greets him in the Church of St. Peter in Erfurt. The details of these spiritual negotiations accord completely with the deceptions in Johanne, especially as regards the women, who consistently appear with dainty, embroidered shoes and flowing taffeta garments.

The author of Die silberne Kuh and Das unglückliche Weib [11] is by far not as bearable. The former consists of chastising rhapsodies on princes, nations, and ages, cloaked in a strange story about Attila and his contemporaries, rhapsodies, moreover, from which no one can or ever will derive even a single comprehensible idea or semblance of a perception.

These three diminutive volumes full of dense, concentrated metaphorical circumscriptions and rough, confused portrayals are supposed to be humorous. Those who, for example, might find the humor of Jean Paul excessively light and ethereal might instead give themselves over to this formless drivel, where everything clings each to everything else but nothing is really connected. The author presumably imagines that one need only speak nonsense in order immediately to generate a bit of method, or that where this is no such method, the reader will suspect the presence of all the more meaning.

Various remarks and isolated expressions that echo rather dully from within the author, along with the — at least apparent — sincerity of his pretensions suggest the presence of a student casualty who has fallen into the hands of the bookselling purchasers of souls; [12] his mannerism, however, shows that they indeed found their man in him. One can hardly describe it other than in its own manifestation, which is why we will insert a few pages here, the first we happen to come across (fortunately, very little fits on such a page) (vol. 1, pp. 367–69):

Everyone wants to be immortal. Strange thought. Some seize upon pride, this outrider, this satellite of regents, this hireling of the base, this tailor of clothes, this trimmer of livery, this theater Hanswurst, this tightrope dancer, this venerator of the deity, this prattler of religion, this scoundrel of deceit, this devil of marriage, this cock of betrayal, this angel of dissimulation, this trumpeter of wisdom, this mimic of conscience, this henchman’s servant, this servant of the court, this flatterer of the great, this feared one of faith. Pride brooded truth, knowledge, light, and energy, just as does the dove eggs, and the scholar ideas. From time immemorial, it has governed opinion, this masked ball of apes, this witches’ master of appearances, this soiler of history, this bungler in the law, this stainer of religion. Because of its multifariousness, religion is a stuffed cock, a peacock with feathers, a screech owl in the dark, and a lark in the sunshine etc.

Like rampant weeds, the proliferating tendrils of this writing style run rankly without interruption through the entire book. [13] The story of an unfortunate woman [Das unglückliche Weib] is composed with equal daftness, a sutler’s daughter who continually refers to her father as her “begetter.” Her misfortune consisted in suffering from nervous sickness and lameness her entire life, and the peculiar elements of her autobiography are captured in truly shockingly accurate portrayals of the conditions of her illnesses, her medical treatments, and various domestic scenes in their most extreme nakedness.

The authoress often presents events and persons as being already familiar even though they have not been mentioned, or alludes to the arrival of such who then do not come, also betraying thereby convulsive spells that do, however, leave her just enough presence of mind such that, when seeking her final refuge with a writer, she does indeed find the opportunity (vol. 2, p. 214) to recommend, among other things, Gott Wezels Zuchtruth des Menschengeschlechts and Das silberne Kalb. [14] With respect to the former it is, of course, noteworthy how someone who has “lost” his senses should yet happen to “find” such that turns his character to tragedy. With respect to the latter, we read:

Here one finds the most profound teachings in the guise of satire, the most pithy delicacies accompanied by Socratic charm, a kernel of mighty learning, and, the most beautiful thing of all, arranged such that everyone can partake of the meal. — Every idea is a copy of the world. In every idea, one catches a whiff of the paradox of the old and new world; alongside insights of the Greeks, Persians, Indians, Germans, and French, they always walk that fine line through which each of these nations differs from the others etc.

One could certainly accept this as an addition made by a purely mercantile hand, especially the way, further, the book Galoppaden und Bockspringe is apparently to be recommended — albeit all-too shamelessly — insofar as although “legend has it that they were written in rather slippery fashion, they could nonetheless be supported through words and works as a historical monument”; these hors d’oeuvres, however, are simply cut too much from the same mold as the content of the works. This self-reviewer concludes with a nice turn of phrase declaring that one could “get an idea of the repulsiveness of an age in which such farces appeared” — something one can, in a way, certainly not deny.

(5) Dresden, bei Arnold: Röschens Geheimnisse, by the author of Das Weib, wie es ist. 1805. Two vols. 260 pages. 8vo. Third, thoroughly revised and affordable edition. (1 Rthlr. 12 gr.). [Frontispieces to vols. 1 and 2.] [15]



We must praise these “secrets” [from the title, “Rose’s secrets”] for not being nearly as risqué as their title might suggest, to wit, they are nothing less than seductive. In fact, here and there they are even being recommended to women as a useful bit of reading material leading to self-understanding. And yet amid all that, this moral side is the worst thing about them, since they do not present, as it were, the image of a feminine being who is drawn into the labyrinth of love through her enticing surroundings and the usual weaknesses, but rather of a being who by nature is destined to allow herself to be abused however circumstances determine; that is, indeed a Röschen — a diminutive rose — that was already withered in the bud, thereafter dissembling innocent youth through form alone.

Her initial relationship with the Hofrath and first conversation with him sufficiently demonstrate how little she was capable of eliciting even the most common sparing consideration, and every subsequent event constitutes either internal or external disgrace or degradation, void of character and void of passion. Such a mirror of femininity, when adopted within utter and defenseless vacuity, can indeed contribute nothing toward lending her dignity a helping hand; and the woman “as she is,” in the sense of this author, is utterly and completely worthy of that other familiar mirror of feminine virtues, namely, “as she should be.”

The baseness of this perspective also generated various improprieties in the portrayal itself. Her final remorse and entry into the convent come about solely by accident, with not the slightest inclination to such in anything preceding. The best treatment is given to the relationship between Röschen and her upright but dry and boring spouse. The delivery is just as animated and correct as one might expect from any halfway adroit clerk given the general dissemination of the fine arts today. Unfamiliar with the other, numerous products of this writer, who allegedly is counted among the more popular, one probably has sufficient cause to take this thoroughly improved and inexpensive Röschen as a measure of his talent, which, we would then have to confess, is distinguished by nothing.

(6) Rudolstadt, bei Langbein und Klüger: Nettchens Hochzeit, by Karl Gottlob Cramer. 1805. 248 pages. 8vo. (1 Rthlr.). [16]

By contrast, let us praise Nettchens Hochzeit, with its rhymed chapter headings and composed according to the following melody in Herr Cramer’s merry, straightforward fashion:

He who views love as a cameralist,
With sinful contempt for the voice of the heart,
Is the most disgraceful naught of creation,
A slave like the king and free like John Bull. [17] 

(7) Elberfeld und Leipzig, bei Büschler: Züge edler Liebe in Erzählungen nach wahren Geschichten. 1805. 295 pages. 8vo. [18]

These Züge edler Liebe [“features of noble love”] are admittedly intended for a more noble reading public than that of Herr Cramer, at least insofar as such is either not insulted or is perhaps even satisfied by what is utterly insignificant, insubstantial, and hardly noteworthy. Here we find no historical features, but rather solely those deriving from the author’s own invention, though the physician Zimmermann did have to take on a role in the final story. [19]

(8) Leipzig, bei Hinrichs: Elmonde, das Kind des Geheimnisses, after the French of Ducray-Duminil, adapted by K. L. M. Müller. 1805. With copper engravings. Vol. 1. 198 pages. Vol. 2. 174 pages. Vol. 3. 183 pages. Vol. 4. 169 pages. 8vo. (3 Rthlr. 16 gr.). [20]

He who, however, and quite apart from whether one possesses more or less education, would indeed simply like to read something quite unaffectedly, something capable of genuinely entertaining and distracting, to that person let us recommend Elmonde. It is a novel not from the sociable French world, but from the world of adventure, which is why the setting has been displaced to the Pyrenees, with a moderate dose of the English or, better, diabolical imagination of Anna Radcliff. [21]

Since that dose is indeed but moderate, one has no frightful or dreadful elements to traverse; a gentler spirit has the upper hand here, manifesting itself both in the thoroughly restrained situations, situations conceived not without an element of grace, as well as in the moral charm of Elmonde herself. Her quiet circumspection makes for an interesting and yet not importunate contrast with the precipitate youthfulness of her cousin and beloved.

The other personalities as well, especially those of the two brothers, are drawn with a more than customary element of individual truth. The tragic components are not thrown together incomprehensibly one on top of the other, and are also sufficiently motivated, at least insofar as they are based on the insulted honor of the one brother. Otherwise the work makes no pretensions other than to keep the reader’s interest up till the end. The translation reads quite flowingly, which really is all one asks for in products of such a fleeting nature.

(9) Berlin, bei Unger: Liebe und Entsagung, by the authoress of Maria Müller. 1805. 2 vols. 352 pages. 8vo. (1 Rthlr. 8 gr.); [22]


(10) Berlin, bei Maurer: Zoe. Ein hohes Ideal zarter Weiblichkeit. Aus dem Archive der Familie von E— gezogen, by Julius Count von Soden. 1805. 261 pages. 8vo. With title engraving and vignette. (21 gr.). [23]

Although Elmonde does considerably ease the transition, it might nonetheless seem blasphemous to include Liebe und Entsagung and Zoe in this series; however, here they lie before the present reviewer, like stipulated end rhymes that cannot be avoided and yet for which he is able to pick up the thread only by declaring that they are utterly and completely works of some status. [24]

The first is at once also characterized by the most refined decorum, and both in this respect as well as with respect to its unforced and agreeable language is quite worthy of a feminine quill, albeit without enhancing feminine claims to ingeniousness. One will not easily find a more accurate characterization of it than has already been said elsewhere, namely, that it might be compared with what in painting is called a still life.

Although authentic emotions and feelings, purity and elegance of surroundings can certainly come to full expression in such, only the latter is to be found here. The whole manner in which the unknown woman whose acquaintance we here make announces herself and emerges in her development, the sojourn in the rural mill, the delicate charm of the narrow limitations of this existence — everything is executed quite in that sense. Indeed, simply in and of itself, a mill can already offer such a tableau, the way it — often a solitary entity half concealed by trees, set in a verdant valley meadow, and of necessity alongside a stream — attracts the eye and, with its moveable wheel, suggests the presence of living character; it is thus truly fortunate that because of its unequivocal practical use in other contexts, this romantic principle need never fear being entirely exterminated from the landscape as have been monasteries and other ruins. —

Our heroine’s story resembles Countess Pauline, [25] which was similarly penned by a feminine hand. She, too, loves a prince and renounces him, albeit without being a heroine to the point of, like the former, suffering a wound and a deformed shoulder or becoming governess to the royal children.

Instead, she devises what in her situation is an extremely deft solution of having herself appear dead to both the world and her beloved, and then burying herself in charming, agreeable solitude — albeit with all her charms — where one is content enough to find her and accordingly leave her without it being all too painful.

Now, as far as Zoe is concerned, although the book admittedly does not violate the more elevated sense of decorum insofar as it itself judges conventions and customs from a lofty perspective, the author has nonetheless found it necessary to defend himself against such objections, and right at the beginning expresses his wish that one not leave the final page — one might even say: the final line — unread, “lest the moral import be missed.”

He might perhaps have had more reason to wish that one overlook the initial pages than read the final one; for anyone desiring to assess the work according to the correctness of the statements the author tries to concentrate logically and laconically into his preface might certainly expect something quite opposite from that, something he might indeed be better off leaving unread. Let us follow him step by step to the extent such is possible without leaps. “A portrayal of events is merely a chronicle.”

Since the author goes so far back with the construction of a work that does not in the slightest resemble the concept of a chronicle (unless it very quietly resemble what one calls a chronique scandaleuse), it is not quite in order for him to leave behind tradition, which is the primary element here, and destroy the story before him by denying in that particular sentence each and every portrayal of events that is not a chronicle. “The character of the novel is unity, and unity is tranquility within the painting.” Here the subject matter has suddenly changed, the noun seems to have been changed; perhaps the reference is to landscape painting.

As far as the novel is concerned, one would sooner think that variety and multiplicity, albeit within unity and movement, constitutes its true character. “The novel must express one sentiment, and only one.” This has hitherto been assumed to apply to the lyric poem, whose disposition is quite the opposite of that of the novel. But this is what happens when tradition is so disdainfully ignored. “Then it [the novel] is true.”

But surely only when viewed subjectively? “Anyone who does not find this sentiment, this truth in Zoe, has — merely read the book.” Here no objection can be raised, since one need do nothing more than read it to find precisely those elements. That one sentiment is obvious enough, so also the truth; for every sentiment, as such, is true. The author has engaged noble striving, considerable acumen, familiarity with both the old and new, passages from the classics, French opera librettos, and an impressive scholarly acquaintance with natural law and artificial mores in defending a certain unbridled freedom of the spirit and heart in his pupil, by virtue of all of which the latter — may desire and indeed also take any woman that pleases him.

This one sentiment alone inspires this young man. We do not doubt that, commensurate with the remaining statements in the preface, once “the cycle is closed” he will find extremely grievous consequences accompanying his engagement of this freedom, whereby the moral import will be appropriately disclosed. And indeed, at the end of this part he genuinely has progressed so far that he must see Zoe, who, of Greek lineage, nonetheless exhibited the attitude toward such things customary in this country, die before his eyes, victim of his own unfettered nature, and those who shared his love with her prostrate in grief.

Moreover, in the final line, and indeed highly unexpectedly, the most frivolous and thoughtless of her rivals now makes an appearance, thereby concluding the overall theme with garish dissonance. — The author is more successful with the letters and observations in which he treats that one sentiment, that is, in the lyrical sections, than in the narrative sections, in which the hasty tone and pragmatic emphasis severely disrupts the intended tranquility within the painting.

By concluding now with Friederike Weiss and her Daughters:

(11) Berlin, bei Frölich: Friederike Weiss und ihre Töchter. A story presented by E. C. Trapp. 1805. 388 pages. 8vo. (1 Rthlr.). [26]

we will admittedly lapse into a most amiable tone of civil respectability; but since this book does occupy such an honorable position within the realm of the useful, one can certainly say of it that the first will be last and the last first. [27] It presents the story of a mother and her daughters who lift themselves up, through devout prayer and hard work, from wretched circumstances and honorably make their way in the world. Anyone who knows an upright mother in similar circumstances, and unspoiled young women destined to serve, let him assist them with this book, which includes many in part spiritual, in part secular songs and various useful precepts for household management, care for the sick, treatment of children, etc.



[1] “Caroline, Schelling, and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, 55–56. — Frank’s footnotes below are prefaced by his name; in several, the present editor has also silently supplied additional or more complete bibliographical information or images. Back.

[2] [Frank:] To Pauline Gotter [letter 395 in present edition, where Caroline queries her about the author; see also note 18 there]. Back.

[3] [Frank:] Eingegangene Briefe [of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung] XLVIII, 16 [Erich Frank’s italics in text]. Back.

[4] I.e., by Schelling; not included here. Back.

[5] Erich Frank’s italics. Back.

[6] Now in review no. 6 (i.e., following this present review no. 5) in this present edition. Back.

[7] Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry IV, act 4, scene 2; text: Complete Works, ed. W. J. Craig (London 1966). Back.

[8] [Frank:] “W.W.,” “of World Wisdom” [i.e., philosophy]. Back.

[9] [Frank:] The author of Amalie Balbi is Ignaz Ferdinand, or, as he also referred to himself, Theodor Ferdinand Kajetan Arnold (1774–1812), Dr. of Philosophy, also attorney, private lecturer, and university secretary in Erfurt, “who had already brought to light some twenty gruesome ghost and murder stories, even though, as he himself says (Amalie Balbi, pp. 8–21), he actually worked in the romantic area with a hearty disinclination” (Carl Müller-Fraureuth, Die Ritter- und Räuberromane. Ein Beitrag zur Bildungsgeschichte des deutschen Volkes [Halle 1894], 87–88).

I was unable to determine whether he was also the author of Johanne Soutgate, though the titles of his other works do make it highly probable. The author of Die silberne Kuh is Georg (according to Meusel [presumably Das gelehrte Teutschland]: Gustav) Teubner, Master of Philosophy and born ca. 1770 in Schlitz (Goedeke V, §276, 10, 4). — Das unglückliche Weib. Ein Gemählde aus der jetzigen Welt is probably also by Teubner even though it is not found among those works reliably attributed to him by his contemporaries. Back.

[10] [Frank:] In 1804, Johann Karl Wetzel (1765–1836), who also spelled his name Wezel and even Wötzel (see Goedeke VI, §298 A, 46, and Meusel, Lexikon der von 1750 bis 1800 gestorbenen teutschen Schriftsteller, IV [5th ed.], 259), published the story of his late wife’s apparition, Meiner Gattin wirkliche Erscheinung nach dem Tode, eine wahre unlängst erfolgte Geschichte für jedermann zur Beherzigung und vorzüglich für Psychologen zur unparteiischen und sorgfältigen Prüfung dargestellt (Chemnitz 1804). The sensation this book caused at the time (see Christoph Martin Wieland’s Euthanasia: Drey Gespräche Über Das Leben Nach Dem Tode [Leipzig 1805]) can perhaps be best measured by the fact that within hardly a year no fewer than four printings were necessary.

It unleashed a flood of rejoinders, imitations, and parodies, concerning all of which the best source of information are the reviews in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 30, 76, and (1806) 97 (signed by “e.,” i.e., Professor Schmid in Jena; see Goedeke loc. cit.).

This particular Wetzel is to be distinguished from F. G. Wetzel (1778–1819), who also used the name Karl Wezel for his popularized medical publications and whom Franz Schultz thought might be the author of the Nachtwachen [he was not; see the editorial note to Schelling’s “The Last Words of the Pastor of Drottning”]; Goedeke VII, §331, 8), as well as from Johann Karl Wetzel (1747–1819), famous during his own time for his novel Tobias Knaut (Goedeke IV, 1, §230, 22; Koberstein, 4:168; Meusel IV, 5th ed., 208, IX, 5th ed., 528). Back.

[11] [Frank:] By Georg Teubner (see earlier footnote). Back.

[12] [Frank:] Not a bad guess at all: in 1803 Teubner had tried to become a private lecturer in Jena before, as Meusel recounts, having to return home without success. Back.

[13] Caroline’s contribution to the review begins here and continues through the remaining novels. Back.

[14] [Frank:] All are novels by Teubner himself: Gott Wezels Zuchtruthe des Menschengeschlechts. Eine Zugabe zu Tobias Knaut. Aus Familiennachrichten gezogen, 8vo (Erfurt 1804); Gallopaden und Bocksprünge auf dem Steckenpferd meiner Laune. Vom Verfasser des silbernen Kalbes (1804); Das silberne Kalb eine Zugabe zum goldenen (Erfurt 1803–4) (Das goldene Kalb [Gotha 1802ff.] is by Count von Benzel-Sternau, see Caroline to Pauline Gotter in August 1805 [letter 395 in this edition]; see also Koberstein 3:2760). Gott Wezels Zuchtruthe was earlier attributed to Johann Karl Wetzel the elder (1747–1819) (Meusel IV, 5th ed., 208). Back.

[15] [Frank:] The first printing of Röschens Geheimnisse “vom Verfasser des Guido von Sohisdom” [by the author of Guido von Sohisdom] appeared in Pirna (2 vols.) 1798–99. The author of this novel and of Das Weib, wie es ist (Hohenzollern 1800) was the productive and at the time famous writer Friedrich Gustav Schilling (Goedeke V 483).

The latter book is one of countless other novels with similar titles inspired by the well-known mirror of virtues Elisa, das Weib wie es sein sollte (Leipzig 1795) (later editions altered the title to Elisa, oder das Weib wie es sein sollte; see Eng. trans. Elisa, or, The Pattern of Women: A Moral Romance [Leipzig 1799], then Eliza; or, The Pattern of Women: A Moral Romance [Lancaster, Pa. 1802]) by Wilhelmine Karoline von Wobeser (1769–1805), including even Das Unterröckchen, wie es seyn sollte (Leipzig 1803) by Johann Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Müller; indeed, Friedrich August Schulze wrote Die ganze Familie wie sie seyn sollte. Ein Roman wie er seyn kann (n.p. 1801) (Goedeke §279, 49, 13). Back.

[16] [Frank:] Concerning Gottlob Cramer (1758–1817), one of the most productive and popular novelists of the time, see Goedeke V 511; J. W. Appell, Die Ritter-, Räuber- und Schauerromantik. Zur Geschichte der deutschen Unterhaltungs-Literatur (Leipzig 1859), 15–34. Cramer knew how to console himself concerning bad reviews: “My novels, regardless of what gloomy, sullen reviewers may think and say, are not read; they are devoured, reprinted, and published over and over and even translated by the proud British” (cited in Müller-Fraureuth, Räuber- und Ritterromane, 54). He wrote sixty-eight novels in far more than one hundred volumes! Back.

[17] Carl Gottlob Cramer, Nettchens Hochzeit (Rudolstadt 1805), superscription (rhymed stanza) prefacing chapter 7, p. 81. Back.

[18] [Frank:] I was unable to determine the author of this piece. Back.

[19] [Frank:] The physician Zimmermann is probably the writer Johann Georg von Zimmermann (1728–95), the physician of Frederick the Great and known as a philosopher and opponent of the Enlightenment. See Koberstein, 4:217–18. Back.

[20] [Frank:] François-Guillaume Ducray-Duminil (1761–1819) was one of the most highly regarded novelists in France. Elmonde ou la fille de l’hospice appeared in Paris in 1804 (5 vols. in 12). This present adaptation, judging by the title, likely also drew from the novel Coelina ou l’enfant du mystère (Paris 1798). Karl L. Methusalem Müller was an attorney in Leipzig who made a name for himself as a translator from the French and English. Goedeke VI, 379, 20; Meusel vols. V and X.B.

[Here the frontispiece engravings to vols. 3 and 4:]




[21] [Frank:] Anna Radcliff [Ann Radcliffe], née Ward (1764–1823), is the famous author of English castle, robber, and ghost stories (the “German horrors” genre). Back.

[22] [Frank:] The authoress of Maria Müller (2nd ed. Berlin 1799, with the author’s name), was Charlotte Sophie L. von Ahlefeld, née von Seebach (born 1787 in Stedten near Weimar; see Meusel X, 18; Goedeke V, 489). Back.

[23] [Frank:] Friedrich Julius Heinrich Reichsgraf [imperial count] von Soden (1754–1831 in Nürnberg); see Goedeke V, 260.

[Here the title engraving and vignette:]




[24] [Frank:] This gentle irony directed at the nobility of the authors suggests that Caroline knew both. Such would also be quite understandable, since Charlotte von Ahlefeld lived in Weimar, Count von Soden in Würzburg since 1804, where he founded the first standing theater. Back.

[25] Friederike Unger’s novel Gräfinn Pauline, in two volumes, which appeared first in the series Journal der Romane, then Berlin 1800. Back.

[26] [Frank:] During his own lifetime, the editor Ernst Christian Trapp (1745–1818) was viewed alongside Johann Bernhard Basedow as one of the most important theoreticians of philanthropic pedagogy. “His final work seems to have been publication of the novel Friederike Weiss und ihre Töchter, written by Wilhelmine Antoinette von Thielau.” ADB, xxxviii, 497. Back.

[27] Matthew 19:30. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott