Letter 360a

360a. Friedrich Frommann to Schleiermacher in Berlin: Leipzig, 21 May 1802 [*]

Leipzig, 21 May 1802

I was unable to answer your cordial missive of 18 April because our friend has only been here a few days. [1] But our tests of patience are not yet over! He does not have any manuscript ready, and hitherto has finished neither the introduction nor Parmenides nor Phaedo! [2] He insists if he could but work uninterrupted for three weeks he could have it all done, but that he cannot wait any longer and must finally depart on his journey, [3] and also absolutely had to be present at this book fair. Of course, he enumerated various reasons, some of which may have some grounding in fact and which I must therefore take on faith. He will also be writing you.

At my departure, [4] I had already arranged for the printing and was counting on it proceeding without interruption! In the meantime, I suspended everything yesterday, for until the entire manuscript is in my hands I will not print a single page!

If you add this last experience to everything that has preceded it, you can well imagine how utterly out of countenance I am. This has all but stifled my enthusiasm for the entire project, so much so that at my initiative Schlegel had to consult another publisher to determine whether he might be willing to take my place if he would but cover my cash advances and without any other claims or expenses etc. from me! But this solution has failed as well, and so I have decided on a final step so that both you and I be persuaded that I have done everything I can from my side!

Hence I insist on the explicit condition

“that Schlegel send me the manuscript for Parmenides and Phaedo as well as the introduction from Marly, [5] and that if by the end of August I have nothing concretely in hand, I will withdraw from this project forever. In that case, he must return to me at the end of August all the advances I have paid him, and he has pledged his word to do so.”

This is also my absolutely final decision, from which I will not deviate under any pretext or any condition, something of which you yourself can and will not disapprove. [6] . . .


[*] Sources: Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:317–19 (frag.); KGA V/5 426–27.

Friedrich Schlegel’s endless and tedious excuses to both Frommann and Schleiermacher concerning the delays in completing his share of the translation of Plato with Schleiermacher were finally coming to a head. See esp. Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348), note 21, and to Julie Gotter on 24 April 1802 (letter 357), note 10. Back.

[1] Friedrich Schlegel, living with his sister, Charlotte Ernst, in Dresden at the time, had gone to Leipzig for the book fair (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Schleiermacher was responsible for Phaedrus and Protagoras for the first volume of Plato, Friedrich for Parmenides and Phaedo and the introduction (KGA V:427). Back.

[3] To Weimar for the performance of his play Alarcos at the Weimar theater and then on the Paris. Back.

[4] From Jena for the book fair in Leipzig (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[5] “Marli (Marly) in Lorraine, south of Metz in France, where Friedrich seems to have planned a longer stay (for an otherwise unknown reason) (thus KGA). No letters from this locale are extant. Possibly Marly-le-Roi, 15 km west of Paris” (KFSA 25:671). Back.

[6] None of these measures or threats helped. Frommann abandoned the project. Schleiermacher alone began publishing the translation of Plato in 1804, Platons Werke, part 1, volume 1, trans. F. Schleiermacher (Berlin: In der Realschulbuchhandlung, 1804) (KFSA 25:630–31) (anonymous engraving, 18th century):


The final volume appeared in 1828, and the translation is still used today. The first volume contained Phaedrus, Lysis, Protagoras, and Laches:



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott