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Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel

Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (later: von) Schlegel (March 10, 1772 – January 12, 1829) was a German poet, critic and scholar. He was the younger brother of August Wilhelm Schlegel.


Life and work

Schlegel was born at Hanover. He studied law at Göttingen and Leipzig, but ultimately devoted himself entirely to literary studies. He published in 1797 Die Griechen und Römer (The Greeks and Romans), which was followed by Geschichte der Poesie der Griechen und Römer (The History of the Poetry of the Greeks and Romans) (1798). At Jena, where he lectured as a Privatdozent at the university, he co-founded the Athenaeum, contributing to that journal the aphorisms and essays in which the principles of the Romantic school are most definitely stated. Here also he wrote Lucinde (1799), an unfinished romance, which is interesting as an attempt to transfer to practical ethics the Romantic demand for complete individual freedom, and Alarcos, a tragedy (1802) in which, without much success, he combined romantic and classical elements.

In 1802 he went to Paris, where he had a circle including Heinrich Christoph Kolbe and edited the review Europa (1803), lectured on philosophy and carried on Oriental studies, some results of which he embodied in an epoch-making book, Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the Language and Wisdom of India) (1808). In the same year in which this work appeared, he and his wife Dorothea (1763-1839), a daughter of Moses Mendelssohn and the mother of Philipp Veit, joined the Roman Catholic Church, and from this time he became more and more opposed to the principles of political and religious freedom. He went to Vienna and in 1809 was appointed imperial court secretary at the headquarters of the archduke Charles.

At a later period he was councillor of legation in the Austrian embassy at the Frankfurt diet, but in 1818 he returned to Vienna. Meanwhile he had published his collected Geschichte (Histories) (1809) and two series of lectures, Über die neuere Geschichte (On the New History) (1811) and Geschichte der alten und neuen Literatur (On old and new literature) (1815). After his return to Vienna from Frankfurt he edited Concordia (1820-1823), and began the issue of his Sämtliche Werke (Collected Works). He also delivered lectures, which were republished in his Philosophie des Lebens (Philosophy of Life) (1828) and in his Philosophie der Geschichte (Philosophy of History) (1829). He died on 12 January 1829 at Dresden.


A permanent place in the history of German literature belongs to Friedrich Schlegel and his brother August Wilhelm as the critical leaders of the Romantic school, which derived from them most of its governing ideas as to the characteristics of the Middle Ages, and as to the methods of literary expression. Of the two brothers, Friedrich was unquestionably the more original genius. He was the real founder of the Romantic school; to him more than to any other member of the school we owe the revolutionizing and germinating ideas which influenced so profoundly the development of German literature at the beginning of the 19th century.

Dorothea Schlegel

Friedrich Schlegel's wife, Dorothea von Schlegel, an aunt of Felix Mendelssohn[1], was the author of an unfinished romance, Florentin (180,), a Sammlung romantischer Dichtungen des Mittelalters (Collection of Romantic Writings of the Middle Ages) (2 vols., 1804), a version of Lother und Maller (1805), and a translation of Madame de Staël's Corinne (1807-1808) - all of which were issued under her husband's name. By her first marriage she had a son, Philipp Veit, who became an eminent painter.

Selected works

Friedrich Schlegel's Sämtliche Werke appeared in 10 vols. (1822-1825); a second edition (1846) in 55 vols. His Prosaische Jugendschriften (1794-1802) have been edited by J. Minor (1882, 2nd ed. 1906); there are also reprints of Lucinde, and F. Schleiermacher's Vertraute Briefe über Lucinde, 1800 (1907). See R. Haym, Die romantische Schule (1870); I. Rouge, F. Schlegel et la genie du romantisme allemand (1904); by the same, Erläuterungen In F. Schiegels Lucinde (1905); M. Joachimi, Die Weltanschauung der Romantik (1905); W. Glawe, Die Religion F. Schlegels (1906); E. Kircher, Philosophie der Romantik (1906); M. Frank '"Unendliche Annäherung" Die Anfänge der philosophischen Frühromantik' (1997); Andrew Bowie From Romanticism to Critical Theory. The Philosophy of German Literary Theory (1997).

On Dorothea Schlegel see J. M. Raich, Dorothea von Schiegel und deren Söhne (1881); F. Diebel, Dorothea Schlegel als Schriftsteller im Zusammenhang mit der romantischen Schule (1905).

For a philosophical exegesis of early romantic theory focused on F. Schlegel, Novalis, and the Athenaeum see Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy "The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism" (1978).



  • Ludwig Tieck und die Brüder Schlegel. Briefe ed. by Edgar Lohner (München 1972)

External links


  1. ^ Portland Chamber Orchestra


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (later: von) Schlegel (March 10, 1772 - January 12, 1829) was a German poet, critic and scholar. He was the younger brother of August Wilhelm Schlegel.


  • Der Historiker ist ein rückwärtsgekehrter Prophet.
    • Translation: The historian is a reversed prophet.
    • Source: Athenäum, I, 2, 20: Fragmente
  • Der Satan der italienischen und englischen Dichter mag poetischer sein; aber der deutsche Satan ist satanischer; und insofern könnte man sagen, der Satan sei eine deutsche Erfindung.
    • Translation: The Satan of the Italian and English poets may be poetic; but the German Satan is satanic; and thus one could say that Satan is a German invention.
    • Source: Athenäumsfragmente 379
    • Note: The Italian poet may refer to Dante, the English poet John Milton.
  • Die romantische Poesie ist eine progressive Universalpoesie.
    • Translation: The romantic poetry is a progressive universal poetry.
    • Source: Progressive Universalpoesie, 1798
    • Note: In the German language, particular at the Romantic school, "Poesie" means both poetry as genre and faculty and source of creativity to form poetry.


  • Es ist gleich tödlich für den Geist, ein System zu haben, und keins zu haben.
    • Translation: It is equally fatal for the spirit, to have a system and not to have.
  • Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is what is good and great at the same time.

External links

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