Letter 330

• 330. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 16 November 1801

[Jena] Monday, 16 November [1801]

|211| My dear, good Schlegel, that you have indeed arrived safely is to that extent quite good news for me [1] — to the extent, that is, that you did not have to endure any hardship, which, after all, does not seem to have been inconsiderable to begin with, which is also why I made such a considerable fuss, and if Tiek and your brother should make the trip as well, they will doubtless travel by way of Halle. [2]

The former, fleeting artist had the great misfortune of having them execute his mold of Goethe extremely ill such that he now has a great deal to do to make the busts acceptable in spite of that. [3] And the other, the ponderous artist, just did not get going with the initial act the way anticipated. [4] So in a word, at least this week nothing will come of it. [5]

Nathan der Weise is scheduled for Saturday. [6] I am hoping to go myself, since today I feel quite healthy. We will also take Tiek along then.

When Tiek left us, he went on foot — I was lying on the sofa in great pain and so had Schelling and Julchen accompany him as far as just past the mills in the valley, [7] and the vivid description they gave me of him was truly quite a tableau, the way he walked up the military road, [8] in his shabby coat on which not a single thread scratches now when you pass your hand over it (between us, I tested it when I was standing behind him while he was sketching Schelling), with a staff, and nothing in his pocket but a roll of paper hanging out quite long, |212| and he quite thin — indeed very thin — his blond hair blowing about his face. [9]

I did go ahead and give him a few silver Thaler to take along with him, and 2 Carolin for Schelling’s picture. He absolutely would not take more, saying he also saved 1 rh. here per day and had learned a great deal as well, since it was his first large portrait. And the resemblance was indeed brought out perfectly; it is a completely faithful picture. [10] The body position is the only thing that did not quite succeed as freely.

Goethe is also quite satisfied with it. He took it over to him, and Mephistopheles, who visited me and had already seen it at Goethe’s, remarked with respect to the general style that the rendering was quite plastic, modeled in crayon, as it were, instead of in clay. The style is admittedly not particularly strict, and anyone can see that the piece by Bury is something completely different with respect to the drawing itself. [11] Mephistopheles also thought that despite having succeeded as far as the resemblance is concerned, Tiek would admittedly have to labor for years before being able to create a good picture in any style other than this black art.

He did, by the way, now officially inform me that Nahl and Hoffmann won the prize for Achilles on Skyros, more specifically Nahl the first prize, though the River Gods none at all insofar as allegedly no one here really comprehended and seized upon the idea or brought it to adequate expression. [12]

They, however, these first-rate ones, always zero in on the idea itself. But how they manage to come up with such in Nahl I would certainly like to know, since absolutely no idea is manifested there.

As far as the execution is concerned, one would without reservation rank Hummel at the top, whereas as far as the idea is concerned precisely he allegedly was a total zero, coming away as the absolutely weakest, without exception, when they brought it to the capelle. [13] He is allegedly not so bad in his Deidamia, but apparently the element of good will was not quite able to break through there. [14]

|213| Well, he told me quite a bit without holding back. Tiek will be no. 3 and presumably garner as much praise as the others do prize money. He said that the bust succeeded beyond his expectations, [15] (the Satan!), since the execution and details, both of which were very diligent, took away nothing from the beautiful initial disposition of the piece.

Goethe had to send Flaxmann to me again, whom he had here as well. [16] Unfortunately, Tiek had already left, though he had had a look at it briefly once before here. Dante and the tragedies seemed just as beautiful to me as the first time, Dante perhaps even more so.

Although there are many weak pages in his Iliad and Odyssey, his River Gods would surely have merited the prize and perhaps even won it. It expresses an excellent connection between the warrior and the two adversaries, who emerge from the river together with him, and the corpses of the Trojans are being cast away, as is appropriate. [17]

Loder is so taken with the resemblance in Schelling’s portrait that he has already asked me what in fact Tiek’s fee might be for a bust. —

The day before yesterday, the professors returned the kindness of the Livonians’ and Courlanders’ souper by giving them a ball, which Julchen also attended [18] — not a single young man, though, except for the aforementioned, of which there are probably 50 here. But the young men here now are all still quite stupid, follow Ulrich in philosophy and Madam Schütz in love, hence the old Babel holds sway over them. Hopefully this winter will polish them into your hands for next summer. [19]

It is with great longing that I await your next news — may everything go as you wish! [20]

We read Falk. [21] Tiek had to read from it aloud to me. He fidgeted the entire time with his hands and feet and yet himself did not really want |214| to stop. The whole thing is very quiet this time with regard to Ludwig Tiek. [22] With regard to you there is much rather stupid gossipy stuff and grousing and stuff concerning the translation of Shakespeare, the general disposition allegedly being not rendered with enough plasticity and too much like High German. [23] Is this wretch perhaps really trying to clear a path to take over the translation himself?

Apart from that, he again does nothing but entwine himself around the basic ideas of others — for example, Goethe’s classification of artists. You are an Imaginant, Friedrich a Phantast. [24] The best, however, is an Amphytrion — and what an Amphytrion! or rather, what a Jupiter! For he allows Alcmene’s virtue and decency to move him not to carry out his plan, enfin [25] not to spend the night with her, and so, of course, Hercules is not begotten — is that not splendid? he is afraid of his cudgel. — Hence far removed from creating fun, he instead cuts off even day-to-day fun. [26]

Schelling expressed his utter indignation regarding him to Goethe and almost agreed not to speak another word with him.

I took your list and sought out the books because I gave Carl Schelling your room. [27] There are a great many, my friend, so many in fact that I have already decided not to send them off without some word first . . .

Fiorillo did send the final sheets, and I am using his note as a couvert for this letter. [28]

Himly’s resonance has been modest, he has only about twenty students. [29] He did visit me. I have been out once since you left, paying a visit to Madam Loder, and otherwise often sick with headaches; but just see that you stay well and send liqueurs soon, for which I feel a certain yearning, and nothing further will be able to trouble me. [30]

|215| My housemates send their regards to you, and I send mine to yours. [31] How are things going? Do the Bernhardis still believe that their housemate is as docile as they thought? Have you not revealed your coarser side yet? [32] Adieu, my dear, good heart.

P.S. Today I also extracted 3 rh. out of your old coats.


[1] Wilhelm had departed Jena for Berlin on Tuesday, 3 November 1801, and probably arrived by the end of the week (Brandenburg Gate, H. A. Forst and F. A. Schmidt during the early 1790s):



[2] Friedrich writes from Jena to Schleiermacher in Berlin on 16 November 1801, just before his own departure from Jena (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:296; KGA V/5 259; KFSA 25:306): “Give my regards to Wilhelm and thank him for the advice regarding the journey, which I will indeed follow.”

Concerning the route between Jena and Berlin: Although Wilhelm’s route is not known, he apparently traveled by way of Leipzig rather than Halle (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[3] Edmund Hildebrandt discusses Tieck’s larger-than-life-size bust of Goethe in his monograph, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik (Leipzig 1906), 24–26, with an illustration. At that time, Tieck also slightly reworked the Apollinian-idealized bust of Goethe by Alexander Trippel (see below).

Wilhelm Schlegel celebrated his personal copy of Tieck’s bust in an epigram (2:37 [not 2:371 as in (1913) 2:625]) and set it up in his Berlin auditorium (for the bust and epigram, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 3 October 1801 [letter 329k], note 2).

See Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik, 22–26 (illustration: Goethe’s house in Weimar, from Wilhelm Bode, Damals in Weimar [Weimar 1912], 73):


Friedrich Tieck arrived in Weimar right at the beginning of September 1801. . . . He dined with Goethe on 6 September, then from 24 September into mid-October Goethe’s diary contains the almost daily remark, “Morning Tieck. Noon same at lunch.” . . .

Tieck spent those mornings with Goethe working on his first Weimar piece, one he intended to finish as a kind of sample, namely, Goethe’s bust. Today, almost forgotten and less well known than the one created nineteen years later in competition with Rauch, it stands in the Goethe Museum.

It shows the poet’s head in larger-than-life size and the poet himself clothed in a cloak from classical antiquity covering both shoulders. The strong heroic emphasis in the overall conception, the slight inclination to the side, and the slightly open mouth, without entirely overcoming the element of rigidity here either, at first glance exhibits a kinship with the bust by Trippel.

But the similarities concern only the overall layout and conception. Tieck, like Trippel, is intent on creating a monumental ideal image, not a portrait, yet has managed to free himself entirely from the elegance of Trippel, who was still strongly attached to the French and Italian traditions. Whereas his predecessor was inclined toward Canova, Tieck sought paths more akin to those of Thorwaldsen, who was also just beginning his career at this time.

In Tieck’s 1801 bust of Goethe, we possess the classic monumental conception of the appearance of the poet during the mature years of manhood, that which Trippel provided for the earlier years and Rauch for the latest. That Tieck’s work did not attain similar popularity is in part the fault of Goethe himself, who refused to loan out the original, which he himself owned, for casts, thereby thwarting any more widespread distribution of the piece. Goethe himself was, however, quite pleased with the work and displayed a considerable preference for it later on.

Yet another work by Tieck is to be dated to this first stay in Weimar, a work that despite its lesser significance nonetheless enjoyed widespread distribution. The casts of the Goethe busts by Alexander Trippel one generally sees as decoration in private residences do not derive directly from either of the originals in Arolsen and Weimar [both are in the Anna Amalia Library today], but rather from a reworking by Friedrich Tieck, whose purpose was to reduce the colossal proportions of Trippel’s original bust.

Tieck accomplished this by removing the broad shoulders, which considerably increased the weight of casts of the original, and by freeing the left shoulder from the cloak, which now covers only the right side of the breast with a narrow strip, and, as was the case with Trippel’s, is fixed on the shoulder by an agraffe. . . .

Here Tieck’s reworked bust by Trippel (Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck, plate 3, illustration 3):



[4] Uncertain reference, though presumably the initial act to Friedrich’s later play, Alarcos (Berlin 1802). The play and its premiere are the subject of later letters. Back.

[5] Friedrich Schlegel and Friedrich Tieck departed together for Berlin on ca. 29 November 1801, where they on 2 December 1801 (KGAV/5 307; KFSA 25:631). Back.

[6] Lessing’s classic play Nathan der Weise: Ein dramatisches Gedicht in fünf Aufzügen (N. p. 1779), was not performed in the Weimar theater in Schiller’s abridged adaptation on 21 November 1801, but rather not until the following Saturday, 28 November 1801. It was repeated on 2 and 14 December 1801 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 41–42). Back.

[7] Illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki (1784); National Gallery of Art, Washington DC:


In her letter to Cäcilie Gotter on 10 November 1801 (letter 329t), Julie Gotter confirms that Friedrich Tieck departed on 9 November 1801.

What is today known as Mühltal just outside Jena (Caroline refers to it as the “mills in the valley”) is a valley through which the Leutra Brook tributary flows toward the River Saale.

The valley is located on the west side of Jena extending from approximately where what was known as the Paper Mill (now a hotel) to the village of Isserstedt. Here with the Paper Mill at center (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Topographische Charte der umliegenden Gegend Von Jena / nach eigenen Messungen und andern Origin. Zeichnungen [Jena 1800]; reprinted in August J. G. K. Batsch, Taschenbuch für topographische Excursionen in die umliegende Gegend von Jena [Weimar 1800]):


Mühlthal begins at the Paper Mill (Christian Gotthilf Immanuel Oehme, Die Papier Mühle bey Jena [ca. 1780]; Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden):


Here the valley with the village of Isserstedt at top left and the Paper Mill a center right:


Here the successor edifice, begun in 1891, on a 1910 postcard showing the location along the road:


Although the modern route of the road between Weimar and Jena was not fixed until 1844, the Mühltal remains largely wooded even today. Earlier the route bypassed Isserstadt to avoid the highwater periods of the Leutra Brook, which runs through the valley (the street on which Caroline lived was named after the brook: Leutrastrasse).

In the early nineteenth century — when Caroline is writing here — nine mills were driven by the Leutra Brook, and many appear in engravings of the time, and the Paper Mill, at the edge of the valley, produced much of the paper used by printing presses in town (demolished 1905).

At the time Caroline is writing, the Mühltal enjoyed an ambiguous reputation as a locale where shady characters lingered, often accosting travelers to and from Weimar, among other places (Christian Gotthilf Salzmann, Carl von Carlsberg oder über das menschliche Elend, vol. 6 [Leipzig 1788]):


Here other illustrations of just such peril from highwaymen ca. 1800 (in order: [1] Johann Friedrich Schröter, Reisende werden im Wald von Räubern ausgeraubt [a robbery portrayal; late eighteenth century], Herzog August Bibliothek, Museumsnr./Signatur Graph. Res. A: 395.2; [2] Georg Melchior Kraus, Im Muehlthale bey Jena [ca.1800, Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden; [3] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Derselbe (geschäftige Mann) auf der Reise in der Verteidigung gegen zwei Straßenräuber, from Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate LII b):




Passengers did not always escape such encounters unharmed (Franz Ludwig Catel, Nach dem Überfall im Walde [1798]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1/ 1394a):


Georg Friedrich Rebmann wrote in 1793 (Georg Friedrich Rebmann, Briefe über Jena [Frankfurt, Leipzig 1793], 139):

The route from Jena to Weimar takes the traveller through a valley called the Mühltal, ugly and barren and wild, closed in on both sides by steep hillsides such that the width of the road itself sometimes constitutes the entire valley — a gorge where apart from a couple of half-dead fir trees not a single blade of grass grows. Everything is desolate and grisly and ghastly, here it seems the only signs of life are the occasional crows

Here French troops during the Battle of Jena in October 1806 on bivouac in the Mühltal (etching by Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 [Jena, Weimar 1806], plate 11):



[8] What Caroline is calling the “military road” is but one such road leading in and out of Jena, in this case from Jena to Weimar (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 19):


Here French troops use the road as a military thoroughfare (beyond the Mühltal proper) during the Battle of Jena in October 1806 (etching by Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 [Jena, Weimar 1806], plate 9):



[9] Representative illustrations: (1) Hermann Saftleven, Landschaft mit Burg und Wanderer (1639); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Z 1698; (2) J. E. Gailer, Neuer Orbit Pictus für die Jugend oder Schauplatz der Natur, der Kunst und des Menschenlebens, 5th ed. (Reutlingen 1842), plate 133:




[10] “Saved 1 rh. here per day”: Tieck had stayed with the Schlegels at Leutragasse 5, to the dismay of Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit.

Concerning the portrait, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 9 November 1801 (letter 329r):

Tieck worked on my portrait until yesterday evening. Even up to the final moment, he himself was not entirely satisfied with it. A couple of well conceived changes, however, managed to transfer it from a condition of infelicity to one of proportional felicity, replacing the element of unfamiliarity with a most striking resemblance. Back.

[11] Caroline is presumably referring to Friedrich Bury’s portraits of Goethe and Wilhelm, both of which, unfortunately, have been lost. Back.

[12] 4 That is, no prize at all was awarded for the competition theme “Achilles battles with the river gods.” The painters Johann August Nahl in Kassel and Joseph Hoffmann in Cologne, however, already winners the previous year, shared the prize of 30 ducats in 1801 for the other theme, namely, Achilles on Skyros, hidden among the daughters of Lycomedes.

Concerning Goethe’s goals, understanding, and organization of these art competitions, which were conducted under the auspices of the Weimar Friends of the Arts, and for reproductions of the winning pieces as well as Hoffmann’s unsuccessful rendering of Achilles and the river gods, see supplementary appendix 330.1. Back.

[13] Here: “melting crucible”; otherwise uncertain reference unless it be to the location where the entries were exhibited. Back.

[14] Deidamia: Achilles’s love interest in the theme story of Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes. Achilles left behind both her and his son by her, Neoptolemus after being discovered by Odysseus. See supplementary appendix 330.1. Here Hummel’s rendering of the scene (Weimar, Stiftung Weimarer Klassik, Museen):



[15] I.e., the bust of Goethe mentioned earlier. Back.

[16] A book of sketches of the English sculptor John Flaxman, La divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri . . . , disegnata da Giovanni Flaxman, Scultore Inglese, ed incisa da Tommaso Piroli Romano (1793), which Wilhelm had extensively discussed in the article “Ueber Zeichnungen zu Gedichten und John Flaxmans Umrisse,” Athenaeum (1799) 193–246 (the section on Flaxman begins on 203) (Sämmtliche Werke 9:102 [113]–57; also Kritische Schriften 2:253 [264]–309). See Wilhelm’s letter to Georg Joachim Göschen on 31 October 1798 (letter 207a), note 5.

Click on the following image to open a gallery of selections from Flaxman’s illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy:



[17] Here apparently the draft of Friedrich Tieck’s rendering of the scene of Achilles and the river gods (Weimar, Stiftung Weimarer Klassik, Museen):



[18] Julie Gotter, writing on Tuesday, 10 November 1801, dates this ball specifically to Sunday, 15 November 1801, rather than Saturday, 14 November 1801.

Schelling mentions these events in his letter to Wilhelm on 9 November 1801 (letter 329r). Julie Gotter herself mentions them in her letter to Luise Gotter on 10 November 1801 (letter 329u). Back.

[19] Julie Gotter, in her previously mentioned letter to her mother on 10 November 1801 (letter 329u), does remark, however, that she danced quite a bit at the ball but was rather lonely because she found no one to converse with.

Concerning Anna Henriette Schütz in social contexts, see also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in October/November 1796 (letter 173).

Caroline is anticipating Wilhelm returning to Jena to lecture during the summer semester 1802. He did not. In fact, he never returned to Jena. Back.

[20] I.e., news about his lectures; they did go well, and Wilhelm eventually gave three courses over the next three years. Back.

[21] Johann Daniel Falk’s Taschenbuch für Freunde des Scherzes und der Satire 6 (Leipzig 1802); here the frontispiece, which anticipates the initial poem in the volume, which in its own turn discusses, among other things, the turning of the new year and whether “the century begins today or last year:


The issue otherwise continues the anti-Romantic polemic of the previous year, where such polemic was also represented by a malicious copper engraving (see Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 17 November 1800 [letter 274c], note 4). Back.

[22] Ludwig Tieck’s derision of the “rogue” (Germ. Schalk, rhyming with Falk) in Prinz Zerbino, oder, Die Reise nach dem guten Geschmack: gewissermassen eine Fortsetzung des gestiefelten Katers; ein Spiel in sechs Aufzügen (Leipzig, Jena 1799) had earlier provoked considerable annoyance, as did his rejection, in a review, of a previous issue of Falk’s Taschenbuch für Freunde des Scherzes und der Satire 2 (1798) (in Tieck’s Kritische Schriften, 2 vols. [Leipzig 1848], 1:125–30 [not 225 as in (1913) 2:626]).

By contrast, Wilhelm had dealt leniently with the first issue of Falk’s Taschenbuch (1797) in his review in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1797) 103 (Saturday, 1 April 1797) 4–6 (Sämmtliche Werke 11:23–25), albeit without the hyperbolic praise that Christoph Martin Wieland, in Der neue Teutsche Merkur (1796) 1[not IV as in (1913) 2:626]:446–48, had bestowed on this “AristophanesHoraceLucianJuvenalSwift” in a single person.

Tieck, in his review above, derisively takes issue with Wieland’s assessment. And yet it was Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel whom Falk took to task in the issue of his Taschenbuch to which Caroline here refers.

For the pertinent reviews and assessments of Falk’s Taschenbuch, see supplementary appendix 330.2. Back.

[23] Falk’s assessment of Wilhelm’s translation of Shakespeare of which Caroline speaks comes in a footnote in his article “Charakteristiker,” Taschenbuch für Freunde des Scherzes und der Satire 6 (Leipzig 1802), 319–23:

In my opinion, Herr Schlegel, with regard to what on the whole is a masterful translation, ought to be warned of two dangerous obstacles.

First: the danger of arbitrarily dismembering the plastic elements in his author. But let me be rightly understood. I am referring not to the plastic elements in characters, but rather in expression. In Shakespeare, the former is woven so deeply into the fundamental fabric of nature and truth that no translation in the world can ever completely destroy and suspend it.

But the latter, all the tiny details of naive manners of expression in language, of which Homer also had such wealth, and which so stubbornly resist even the intimation of positioning even a single syllable out of joint, suffer enormous damage if not brought to expression through similar, and similarly firmly intact, self-enclosed manners of speech from a different or related language.

One can render line for line, letter for letter, and yet still be quite untrue to the original from this perspective. For that reason, a more soulless image still remains an accurate one. Goethe has such a high opinion of the plastic, including in this respect, that in problem cases he prefers to forgive grammar and poetic meter rather than nature; and he is quite right in doing so. —

The second warning, like the first, concerns the plastic element in entire types of speech, especially in the individualization of specific expressions, which Herr Schlegel often excessively generalizes and, so to speak, undulizes, enhancing thereby the impression of lifelessness that every translation exhibits in any case.

Shakespeare, who, as is well known, has at his disposal the entirety of the living, and not merely transmitted speech inventory of his age, even down to specific idioms and provincialisms, and who always heard where Herr Schlegel merely read, is also a grand and unsurpassable master in bringing out individual tints, and whatever the particular color or coloring of every expression requires. With him, every word, so to speak, is plastic, and acquires an often wholly original enhancement through the character given it by its particular use and positioning.

Hence one could very well demand of a translator striving so wholly and admirably for accuracy and faithfulness that he not make his original for us so very High German in this regard. But Herr Schlegel is not able.

Every Imaginant, by nature, is a High German, just as the idealist dictionary of Herr Professor Adelung proves, which often so contemptuously rejects all naive South and Low German, — so, a High German, who now, after successfully withstanding six days of creation is already approaching the seventh in a position of strength, and who will soon rest from his works while the real creators of our language, the poets, hale and hearty and active, are still the first. Back.

[24] The expressions “Imaginant” and “Phantast” derive from Goethe’s Propyläen (1799) vol. 2, no. 2, 26–122, from the eighth letter in the essay “Der Sammler und die Seinigen” (The collector and his friends). For the text of this and other key passages, supplementary appendix 242a.1.

In his article “Charakteristiker,” Taschenbuch für Freunde des Scherzes und der Satire 6 (Leipzig 1802), 235–344, here 237–40 and 310–29, Falk identifies Wilhelm as an Imaginant, Friedrich as a Phantast, both of which are one class of “aberrations” (of three; the other two are classes of “undulists”) of Falk’s third division of human beings (of three divisions), the third division being “people who act, write, and paint more according to ideas than experience, but still with a firm foundation in nature,” in contrast to people in the first division, who act, write, and paint according to experience but not ideas, and in the second, who act, write, and paint according to experience and ideas, but with a preponderance of the former. Although

Imaginants and Phantasts, like characteristic members of the highest form [the third division], act, write, and paint more according to ideas than experience, the guiding ideas are often skewed, and the reality fancifully embellished. Members include Plato — August and Friedrich Schlegel — [the mythological figure] Icarus — Robinsons [modeled after Robinson Crusoe] — Romantic adventurers — Utopian lawgivers.

Falk later adds the following remarks about the Imaginants and Phantasts (310–12):

The Imaginant is similarly concerned with writing, painting, and acting according the an idea of the highest; but since he is not familiar with the means to provide a setting for it in reality, and hates nature, what he produces lacks consistency. . . .

Closely related to the Imaginant, who at least rescues a semblance of reality, the Phantast wholly surrenders it, and instead fancifully embellishes it. The shared point of contact between the Imaginant and Phantast is that they both are annoyed and exasperated by nature because neither is in a position to isolate it from their ordinary surroundings. . . .

What would have become of the [Platonic] state had Dionysius really granted him one according to his ideas? Answer: the same thing that would become of the theater whose directorship one assigned to Friedrich Schlegel, who at one time or other expressed precisely such a wish. The true Imaginant is utterly unsuited to manage businesses, even the business of the theater. . . .

Plato’s proposal to introduce a community of women is quite as impossible as the Schlegelian proposal of taking off one’s clothes among them. . . .

What a genuine Imaginant is, is utterly irreconcilable with a genuine economist . . .

And precisely this circumstance is the cause of the grand misunderstanding between the public and the Schlegel brothers. By continuing their most vehement declamations against nature, the public has an uneasy feeling it cannot quite get rid of, namely, that a wholly unsuccessful, absurd piece such as Lucinde cannot possibly withstand a comparison with a genuine Vossian-theoretical portrait of nature, nor even with a Fieldingian product of nature; here the public is probably right. . . .

Goethe writes in the Propyläen [see supplementary appendix 242a.1] . . . :

The Imitator does no injury to art, for he brings it laboriously to a point where the true artist can and must take it up. But the Imaginative, on the other hand, is the cause of endless harm to art, because he drives it beyond all bounds, and the greatest genius would be requisite to bring it back from its license and wildness, into its true and appointed circle.

Messieurs Schlegel should write these words down in golden letters in their household catechism. In their eyes, nothing is more unforgiveable than a platitude. . . . [But] the spirited Frenchman still finds Homer to be an eminently platitudinous poet; . . . and Herr August Schlegel himself will certainly know better than anyone how even Shakespeare no less than Goethe has long been an aggravation to the petty critical scourges of this sort in our nation, since Herr Schlegel himself has translated the former so excellently.

Just as Friedrich Schlegel comes perilously close to the category of Phantast, so August Wilhelm more that of the Imaginant, though without the slightest plastic power one otherwise finds in some Imaginants. —

With him, nature is ground up and dismembered; not genuine figures, hardly even parts of such that might move before our soul; solely the one, eternal figure of the author, who with gracious self-conceit finds himself reflected in all ages — that alone do we encounter at every step, regardless of where we wander. Back.

[25] Fr., here: “in a word, in short.” Back.

[26] “Day-to-day fun”: a cheeky but presumably mutually understood and, given previous correspondence, applicable metaphor between the two spouses (Retif de la Bretonne, with whose work both Caroline and Wilhelm were famliar, Les contemporaines; ou, Avantures des plus jolies femmes de l’âge présent, 42 vols. in 12 [Leipsick 1780–85], here 13:80):


Caroline uses the spelling “Amphytrion.” Here: “Amphitryon, ein Lustspiel in 5 Aufzügen,” Taschenbuch für Freunde des Scherzes und der Satire 6 (1802), 29–170; with different orthography, Amphitruon. Lustspiel in fünf Aufzügen, 2 vols. (Halle 1804), Falk’s (in the opinion of Erich Schmidt, [1913], 2:626) horribly empty and artificial hack-work. Here the frontispieces to the two volumes in 1804:


See Susan Bemofsky, Foreign Words. Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe (Detroit 2005), 80:

Falk’s Amphitruon has been deservedly forgotten. As a play, it is of indifferent quality, full of overlong, underdramatic scenes marginal to the principal actions and themes. Falk seems to have been particularly pleased with his crowd scenes — he preprinted some of them in the 1803 Taschenbuch [“Volkscenen aus dem Amphitryon,” Taschenbuch für Freund des Scherzes und der Satire 7 (1803), 171–362] — but they were in fact not particularly interesting examplars of a genre that was not to be perfected in German for another three decades, by [Georg] Büchner and [Christian Dietrich] Grabbe.

Falk revised his initial blank verse draft into a complex of more irregularly metered lines that often fall into pairs of rhymed couplets, but there is nothing about his language that can be expected to have made much of an impression on even the young [Heinrich von] Kleist [who also adapted the theme in 1807].

Concerning Caroline’s allusions to Falk’s alterations of the play (illustration of Jupiter disguised as Amphitryon visiting Alcmene: Nicolas Henri Tardieu, Jupiter et Alcmene [ca. 1694–1749]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur NHTardieu AB 3.15)::

In the original story, Amphitryon, son of Alcaeus, King of Tiryns, was living with his wife, Alcmene, in Thebes, whither he had been exiled for having killed Alcmene’s father, Electryon, king of Mycenae, who was also his uncle.

While Amphitryon defeats the Taphians for having killed several of Alcmene’s brothers in battle, Zeus (whom Caroline calls Jupiter) visits Alcmene disguised as Amphitryon and begets Hercules, whom she bears later along with Iphicles, her son with Amphitryon, after the latter returns (she had denied him conjugal rights until after his successful expedition against the Taphians).


When Amphitryon returns and greets Alcmene, she is astonished, believing she saw him the day before. Amphitryon, of course, believes Alcmene has been unfaithful; Zeus himself resolves the mystery. Caroline’s point, of course, is that because Zeus, impressed by Alceme’s virtue, does not carry out the visit as intended, Hercules is never begotten in the first place.

Caroline’s jesting insinuation is that Falk altered the play thus because of his fear of Hercules’s cudgel or club, one of the signature weapons associated with Hercules (Virgil Solis, Herkules tötet die lernäische Schlange [ca. 1542–62]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur VSolis WB 3.72):


Falk took his variant orthography (Amphitruon) from the Roman playwright Plautus (ca. 254–184 BCE), who treated the story in his comedy of errors Amphitruo. Back.

[27] I.e., Wilhelm’s room at Leutragasse 5, which had been vacant since his departure (representative illustration: R. Fick, ed., Auf Deutschlands hohen Schulen: Eine illustrierte kulturgeschichtliche Darstellung deutschen Hochschul- und Studentenwesens [Berlin, Leipzig 1900], 189):



[28] Concerning Wilhelm’s role in the publication of Johann Dominik Fiorillo’s Geschichte der zeichnenden Künste von ihrer Wiederauflebung bis auf die neuesten Zeiten, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 February 1801 (letter 290), note 11, and on 27 February 1801 (letter 292). Caroline similarly mentions this issue in her letters to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 (letter 301) and on 26–27 March 1801 (letter 303). Back.

[29] The physician Karl Gustav Himly had just succeeded Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland at the university in Jena. Back.

[30] Illustration: excerpt from Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Winkopps Leben des Prior Hartungus (1782); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.472):


In his letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 4 September 1801 (letter 328e), Wilhelm had requested two bottles each of Maraschino, Breslauer, and Danziger for himself, Caroline, and Schelling.

Sophie responded with a query in her (first) letter of ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h); see also note 1 there. By 3 October 1801, the promised spiritual stimulants still had not arrived; see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on that date (letter 329k), with note 19. Caroline seems to be expecting Wilhelm now to send them along from Berlin himself. Back.

[31] Caroline’s current housemates included, it seems, only Julie Gotter and Karl Schelling, perhaps the live-in maidservant; Friedrich Tieck seems also to have resided with them at Leutragasse 5 at some point during the autumn of 1801.

Luise and Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann and their daughter, Emma, had returned to Braunschweig in early October; Wiedemann had returned from his trip to France by way of Jena (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[32] See the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm’s residences in Berlin; Wilhelm was living there with the Bernhardis at Jungfernbrücke 10.

Here the three bridges along the canal where Wilhelm was living: Schleusenbrücke (top); Jungfernbrücke (middle); Getrautenbrücke (bottom) (Grundriss der Königl. Residenzstädte Berlin Im Jahr 1786 von neuen zusammengetragen und gestochen durch D. F. Sotzman [Berlin, Stettin 1786]):


Here an undated drawing looking south on the map above; Jungfernbrücke 10 is on the right just past the bridge (Jungfernbrücke von Norden; Landesgeschichtliche Vereinigung für die Mark Brandenburg e.V., Archiv Berlin-Mitte):



Translation © 2015 Doug Stott