Letter 310c

310c. Wilhelm Schlegel to Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen: Berlin, 23 April 1801 [*]

Berlin, 23 April 1801

. . . You no doubt have long known that Woltmann’s plan for a critical journal had to be entirely abandoned, moreover, through the counter effects of our own plan. I have in the meantime not been particularly inclined to work further on the latter, since I find that most of the friends who were to be contributors are too involved with their own projects for one to be able to count on them for ongoing participation. Perhaps one must now simply wait for a more favorable time. [1]

I do, however, have a new proposal for you. To wit, I am currently without a publisher for my Shakespeare, since Unger has terminated further publication. [2] In so doing, however, he merely anticipated me, since I would have done the same from my own end; after what has transpired, I could not really wish to have anything further to do with him. . . .

I know of no other publisher with whom I would rather undertake the continuation and in whom I have greater trust than you yourself; hence I would be very pleased indeed could we come to an understanding. Please be so kind, should you be interested . . ., to write to me concerning your own proposals and in any event send me a few lines in response.

Would 3 Karolin per printer’s sheet seem too much to you for an enterprise that can yet be continued through 13 volumes without any risk and with such considerable and quick sales (the sales hitherto, which you can better oversee than I, were accomplished in four years), with a printing of 1500–1800 copies, whose exact numbers can be determined in the contract? I have hitherto been receiving 2 1/2 louis d’or. Since the public does seem to be so grateful for my work, it seems reasonable that I also enjoy some advantage in that regard, rather than have the publisher profit alone, as seems to be Herr Unger’s intention. [3] . . .


[*] Source: Briefe an Cotta. Das Zeitalter Goethes und Napoleons 1794–1815, ed. Maria Fehling (Stuttgart, Berlin 1925), 258–59. Back.

[1] This paragraph essentially concludes the history of Wilhelm’s attempts to establish a new critical journal to replace the Athenaeum. For that history, see Rudolf Haym’s discussion of the Romantics’ Jahrbücher project. The persons originally intended as contributors to the project now went their separate ways. Back.

[2] Concerning Wilhelm’s problems with Johann Friedrich Unger with respect to the translation of Shakespeare, see Wilhelm’s explanation in his letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 (letter 309), esp. with note 4. Back.

[3] This letter notwithstanding, Friederike Unger eventually published the final volume with which Wilhelm was directly involved, namely, vol. 10 with Richard III in 1810. Her husband, Johann Friedrich Unger, died in 1804



Translation © 2015 Doug Stott