Letter 261a

261a. Wilhelm Schlegel to Goethe in Weimar: Jena, 6 June 1800 [*]

Jena, 6 June 1800

I just received from the prorector the requested copy of the responses of Schütz and Hufeland, which I am herewith sending over to you; now you have the complete documentation. [1]

Although the legal distinctions Herr Hufeland makes may be quite in order, recourse to the rights of the A.L.Z. as a non-academic journal, which both men allege, is an extremely weak excuse. The issue here is not at all the A.L.Z., and the remark that the libel concerning which I am lodging the complaint appeared in the Intelligenzblatt is an indifferent secondary circumstance. I doubtless have no less right to lodge my complaint than had it appeared anywhere else.

I will await your advice concerning further steps in this matter. [2]

Tieck returned from Weimar quite well and contented, he merely wished he could have spoken with you at greater length without distractions. [3] You will no doubt be greatly pleased with his letters on Shakespeare, which do address many other things and articulate his views in general. [4]

Schelling suddenly had to leave Bamberg for a time to visit his parents. The reason for this decision is the death of one of his brothers, who was in service as an imperial officer and died near Genoa. [5] I do in the meantime believe he will nonetheless deliver lectures there this summer; he has probably anticipated having to make them short, since the election of the coadjutor has made it impossible even to think about it until now. [6]

I received the copy of my Gedichte back. [7]

Your friends here send their kind regards. Stay well.



[*] Source: Körner-Wieneke 106–7. — For the background to this letter, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 30 May 1800 (letter 260c) concerning Wilhelm’s dispute with Christian Gottfried Schütz and Hufeland and his break with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung; see also his original statement and the editorial response in the Intelligenzblatt of the A.L.Z. on Wednesday, 13 November 1799 (letter/document 255a). Goethe had acknowledged receiving the various materials associated with the dispute on 31 May 1800 (Körner-Wieneke 106). Back.

[1] In his earlier letter, Wilhelm had mentioned trying to get these copies from the Academic Senate. Back.

[2] See Goethe’s response on 10 June 1800 (letter 262a) and Wilhelm’s reply on 13 June 1800 (letter 262b). Back.

[3] Nothing specific is known about Ludwig Tieck’s visit to Weimar on this occasion, though he and his wife did indeed visit Goethe again in Weimar on 11 June 1800 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:298). Back.

[4] “Briefe über W. Shakspeare,” Poetisches Journal, ed. Ludwig Tieck (Jena 1800) (two issues: July, August), 1:18–80 and 2:459–72, reprinted in Tieck’s Kritische Schriften, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1848), 1:133–84. Goethe mentions having spent some time with these pieces in a letter to Schiller on 1 August 1800 (Correspondence Between Goethe and Schiller 2:330):

Tieck, in his poetic journal, reminds me of an old marionette play called the Höllenbraut, which I too remember to have seen in my young days. It is a pendant to Faust, or rather to Don Juan. An extremely vain and heartless girl, who has ruined her faithful lover, consents to accept an unknown stranger as her betrothed, and he, in the end, as a devil, carries her off with him as she deserves. Ought we not to be able to find the idea for a bride in sorrow here, at least, in this direction.

This exchange apparently also inspired Schiller to address the theme of Don Juan. See Caroline to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313):

And by the way, let me herewith pass along to you the deep secret that Schiller’s next play will be a Don Juan. He revealed to Schelling that he was indeed just about to undertake the necessary studies. Behold how this man plunges into popularity like his diver into the maw of the Charybdis [in Greek mythology a whirlpool-like sea monster hiding under a rock in the Straits of Messina opposite the monster Scylla; engraving by George Rinhart (1880): Scylla on the right, the whirlpool of Charybdis on the left.]



[5] See Auguste’s letter to Schelling on 4 June 1800 (letter 261) with the accompanying notes concerning the background and circumstances of Schelling’s journey. Back.

[6] Concerning this election, see Auguste’s letter to Cäcilie Gotter on 16 May 1800 (letter 260) with note 14. Back.

[7] See the first paragraph of Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 27 April 1800 (letter 259j), with notes 1, 2, and 3 (Wilhelm apparently intended to give the returned copy to Minna van Nuys). Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott