Letter 333a

333a. Schelling to Goethe in Weimar: Jena, 29 November 1801 [*]

Jena, 29 November 1801

Schlegel has charged me, esteemed Herr Geheimrath, with sending two copies of the Musen-Almanach (which have been lingering so long in the calendar for smoothing) for you and Schiller.

At the same time, he is taking the liberty of sending along a small proscription list of several verses from Ion with the request that you have the marked passages deleted from the play before sending the manuscript to Berlin, [1] since in Berlin one allegedly finds neither speakers nor spectators as good as in Weimar, which is why Madame Unzelmann advised that some passages be shortened before being sent here. Otherwise, that is, without changing anything in the piece, there would be complaints about the lengthy discourses and attendant attempts to damage the piece.

If such does not inconvenience you, I would be quite obliged if you might send along some tentative news about how soon Ion will be performed in Weimar, and when it will be dispatched to Berlin. . . . [2]


[*] Sources: Goethe und die Romantik 1:219–20; Fuhrmans 2:360–61.

The reference in this letter is to Wilhelm Schlegel, Ion: ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803), which Wilhelm had mentioned to Goethe in a letter on 19 October 1801 (i.e., while Wilhelm was yet in Jena) and offered to read aloud to him (Goethe und die Romantik 1:112; Körner-Wieneke 121). He did so on 1 November 1801 shortly before departing for Berlin on 3 November 1801, apparently while Friedrich Tieck continued to work on Goethe’s bust.

Goethe eventually directed the play’s premiere in the Weimar theater on 2 January 1802. Caroline provides a review of the performance of the premiere for Wilhelm in her letter to him on 4 January 1802 (letter 339).

For a convenient synopsis of the play, see especially the account by Wilhelm’s copyist, Julie Gotter, in the latter’s letter to her sister Cäcilie Gotter on 4 January 1802 (letter 339b). Back.

[1] “Proscription list”: verses to be deleted from the manuscript of Ion that was to be sent to Berlin for performance; it premiered there on 15 May 1802 with both Caroline and Schelling present. Back.

[2] Wilhelm had been working on the play for several months (see Caroline’s letters to him since her return to Jena). References to its progress, performances in Weimar and Berlin, and subsequent fate occupy increasing space in these letters over the next months. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott