Letter 203c

• 203c. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Dresden: Berlin, early autumn 1798 [*]

[Berlin, early autumn 1798]

|632| I have not yet been able to fulfill your request, for there are no wasps here unless you allow old Madam Unger to count as such. But I certainly cannot cut her in half, not only because she does not belong to me in the first place, but for other reasons as well. I do not see her much anymore, for they have not been living in the Tiergarten for a week now. [1]

But we are still here, [2] as are the Tiecks. They were here yesterday, and we read a bit from Sternbald together. [3]

You see, I already have new fodder for you. The second part is not as gloomy as the first, in fact in parts it is quite frivolous and gay, which is also why you will probably be quite pleased with it. [4]

Try to get hold of Moriz’s Journey to England, [5] though especially his mythology [6] and Roman celebrations, [7] and if you have already read the Unterhaltungen, [8] then you can, of course, also read Meister and understand it just as well. Anything you do not understand, only leave it be.

More anon, dearest Auguste. Regards to Udli from Uncle Pitze. [9]


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:632 (letter no. 19); Waitz (1871), 1:367; reprinted in KFSA 24:172 (follows no. 20 in KFSA; see dating below).

Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1.

Dating to early autumn 1798: KFSA 24:408n100.1: This letter was probably written a bit later than no. 20 (202h in present edition; Erich Schmidt, [1913], 1:633–34; KFSA 24:169–70), which already recounts Friedrich’s return trip to Berlin at the end of August. Back.

[1 Friederike and Johann Friedrich Unger spent much of their time during the summer in a garden house in the Tiergarten district of Berlin.Back.

[2] Possibly at the summer home of Henriette Herz (see Friedrich’s letter to her from Dresden on 24 August 1798 [letter 202g]). Back.

[3] Ludwig Tieck, Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen, 2 vols. (Berlin 1798), a Bildungsroman on the life of a young Nürnberg painter after the model of Wilhelm Meister. Back.

[4] Concerning Caroline’s (and Goethe’s) reaction to the novel, see her letter to Friedrich from Jena on 14–15 October 1798, in which, among other things, she recounts how the novel literally put her to sleep (letter 204). Back.

[5] Concerning Karl Philipp Moritz, Reisen eines Deutschen in England im Jahre 1782 (Berlin 1783; 2nd ed. 1785); Eng. Charles P. Moritz [Karl Philipp Moritz], “A literary gentleman of Berlin,” Travels, chiefly on foot, through several parts of England in 1782. Described in letters to a friend, translated from the German by a Lady, 2nd ed. (London 1797), see Caroline’s letter to Lotte Michaelis in 1786 (letter 72), esp. with note 2. Back.

[6] Either Moritz’s Mythologischer Almanach fur Damen (Berlin 1791), or his Götterlehre, oder Mythologische Dichtungen der Alten (Berlin 1791) (Eng. trans. The Mythology of the Greeks and Romans. Translated from the fifth edition of the German of Charles Philip Moritz [Oxford 1832]), both of which are essentially introductions to the mythology of antiquity with keyed line-drawing illustrations, the latter (Götterlehre, oder Mythologische Dichtungen der Alten) also esp. exhaustive.

Through such reading as Moritz’s Anthusa (see below) and Auguste’s readings in ancient Greek (Xenophon, Herodotus, and Euripides), the Schlegels were indeed trying to ensure that she acquired a foundation in the culture of antiquity. Here several illustrations from the Götterlehre:





[7] Anthusa oder Roms Alterthümer: Ein Buch für die Menschheit, 2 vols. (Berlin 1791–96). See Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 1 November 1793 (letter 135.5) note 3. Back.

[8] Goethe’s “Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten” in Die Horen (1795) vol. 1, no. 1, 49–78; vol. 1, no. 2, 1–28; vol. 2, no. 4, 41–67; vol. 3, no. 7, 50–76; vol. 3, no. 9, 45–52; vol. 4, no. 10, 108–152; Eng. “Conversations of German Refugees,” trans. Jan van Heurck, in Goethe: The Collected Works, ed. Jane K. Brown, vol. 10 (Princeton 1989), 15–92. Back.

[9] I.e., Uncle Fritz(e), presumably imitating Auguste Ernst’s pronunciation. Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott