Letters Intro

Briefe aus der Frühromantik
Die Briefe


The letters in Caroline: Letters from Early Romanticism are divided into seven sections accessible below and from the index for each volume in the drop-down menus:

I. Göttingen. Clausthal. Marburg: 1778–91
II. Mainz. Gotha. Braunschweig: 1792–96
III. Jena. Dresden. Bamberg: 1796–1800.
IV.  Braunschweig. Jena: 1800–1803
V. Murrhardt. Munich. Würzburg: 1803–6
VI. Munich. Maulbronn: 1806–10

Throughout this edition, letters are presented chronologically based essentially on Erich Schmidt’s edition of (1913), each letter being assigned the same number it bears in that edition. That is, readers can generally rely on letter numbering remaining the same in this and the original edition. The few exceptions to Schmidt’s numbering are noted in editorial headnotes.

For quick reference, letters preceded by • in the indexes constituted the original edition by Erich Schmidt (1913). All others have been added and are accompanied by an editorial footnote indicating source.

Readers wishing perhaps to read only the letters included in Schmidt’s original edition can simply choose letters marked by • in the indexes.

Letters added to Schmidt’s edition are kept in chronological order and given letter numbers ending in a letter, e.g., 121a, 121b, and so on, and are not accompanied in the indexes by •. In a few instances, Schmidt’s own use of a, b, c, etc. made it necessary to begin the extra numbering with .1, .2, .3, most notably for letters with numbers 134, 135, and 136 (e.g., 135.1, 135.2), in which cases I have in some instances simplified Schmidt’s numbering by including the entire original letter from which excerpts of Caroline’s letters were taken. For example, letters 135a and 135b in Schmidt’s edition were excerpts originally cited in a single letter Friedrich Schlegel wrote to his brother Wilhelm Schlegel; I include that entire original letter — with the excerpts — as 135ab.

This edition, rather than being a historical-critical edition, is instead an annotated translation of Erich Schmidt’s edition of 1913 and of letters of Caroline’s contemporaries bearing either directly or indirectly on her own circumstances or letters.

That said, manuscripts have been consulted whenever possible or necessary. Sources for materials not in Erich Schmidt’s edition of 1913, including manuscripts and letters published in periodicals and books, are provided in editorial footnotes. Manuscripts consulted thus far include

  • letters transferred during the Second World War for safe-keeping from Berlin to the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow, a collection including twenty-four letters written between 1786 and 1794;
  • manuscripts of letters between Wilhelm Schlegel and Caroline and between Wilhelm Schlegel and Schelling accessible in the Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels;
  • manuscripts of letters written by Julie Gotter from Jena to her family in Gotha from the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha der Universität Erfurt and from the Schelling Archiv der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften;
  • manuscripts provided by Martin Reulecke not included in Erich Schmidt’s original edition.

Several of the Krakau manuscripts are useful in resolving questions Erich Schmidt himself raised or in correcting some of his readings (noted in annotations), and the Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels similarly provides the opportunity to correct some of Schmidt’s readings and to add passages, some of them extensive, that Erich Schmidt chose not to include or of which he seems to have been unaware. [1] Several manuscripts of new letters located since Erich Schmidt’s edition of 1913 have similarly been added.

Letters include an editorial headnote when necessary to provide either the source(s) of the letter or other information relating to its provenance, dating, content, or other issues. In some instances, this edition redates letters that have been misdated by previous editors; reasons for doing so are always provided in the editorial headnote.

Detailed information about Caroline’s correspondents and other figures in her letters, can be found in the section Dramatis personae, to which names within letters are generally linked on first occurrence and thereafter only if confusion may arise within a cluster of names, if the person is not particularly well known and yet recurs later in a letter, or if the letter itself is particularly long. Annotations to the text clarify references to persons, books, plays, poems, places, quotations, foreign language entries, events, and chronological issues within the main body of each individual letter, and link the reader to the various supplementary appendices, “supplementary,” that is, to Erich Schmidt’s original appendices, which are also included.

A Word About Proper Names and Place Names

In the interest of retaining, however modestly, the character of this correspondence as distinctly German rather than British or, certainly, American, I have made certain perhaps unusual decisions with regard to titles, proper names, and place names.

(1) For titles, I have retained the German terms Herr, Frau, and Fräulein rather than introduce “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Miss,” and have in many instances used French Madam, Madame, and Mademoiselle (less often Monsieur; occasionally Mamsell) more often than Frau and Fräulein, and not merely in Caroline’s French letters, as prompted by Caroline’s and others’ usage as a reflection of the previous dominance of French culture in some aspects of daily life.

That is, Caroline and her correspondents regularly use these terms or their abbreviations instead of, for those unfamiliar with the period, the customary and anticipated German terms.

The following manuscript excerpt from a letter Julie Gotter wrote to her sister Cäcilie from Jena on 10 November 1801 illustrates the point; Julie refers regularly to Madam S. or M. Sch., but never to Frau Schlegel or any variation thereof (Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181_01-02_0005v; 325):


Here the variation Madame on the envelope sent to Caroline by H. E. G. Paulus in Jena on 2 June 1801 (Mscr.Dresd.e.90,XIX,Bd.22, p. 325):


Julie Gotter similarly addresses her letter of 11 October 1801 not to Fräulein, but rather to Mamsell Cecile Gotter (Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181_3-2-2_00008v):


Caroline herself, moreover, occasionally quips Miss G. or Mr. Geisler (in English) rather than Fräulein G. or Herr Geisler, or even Madam Geisler. Retaining the German and French terms, and setting the English terms off in relief against them, seems better to reflect the character of the correspondence and Caroline’s and others’ quite intentional usage.

I have similarly generally retained the German titles Rath, Hofrath, Geheimrath (or Geheimer Rath), and several other common titles rather than use what are often inexact or misleading English equivalents, though in some instances I do use such renderings. For a brief explanation of this situation, see the supplementary appendix on honorific titles.

(2) Similarly again, I have generally retained German spellings of persons’ names, not least because most of the actors in this correspondence are known primarily under those forms, for example, “Friedrich Schlegel” rather than “Frederick Schlegel,” and even “Friedrich Wilhelm II” rather than “Frederick William II.”

(3) For place names, I have — with admittedly sometimes inconsistent reasoning — retained some German versions, for example, Braunschweig, Hannover, and Würzburg rather than Brunswick, Hanover, and Wuerzburg, but have, on the other hand, gone ahead and used Munich rather than München, to adduce but one contrary example.


[1] Manuscripts from the Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels from which materials not included by Erich Schmidt in 1913 have been retrieved include letters 235b, 331, 332, 334, 335, 336, 338, 340, 341, 342, 343, 345, 351, 352, 358, 359, 360, 362, 364, 367, 368, 377c1, 377f, 377g, 380.1.

Similarly, manuscripts of previously unpublished letters from the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha and the Schelling archives in the Berlin-Brandenburg Akademie der Wissenschaften written by Julie Gotter to her sister Cäcilie Gotter and mother, Luise Gotter, during Julie’s stay with Caroline in Jena between May 1801 and March 1802 include letters 319b, 319c, 320c, 322a, 322b, 323b, 327d.1, 328.1, 328k, 329l.1, 329l.2, 329t, 329u, 329v, 334c, 335d.1, 336b, 339b, 345b. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott