I am proud of belonging to you as your own possession. On that level, it is one writer addressing another, each aware of the conventions and proprieties. It is also an admission of resignation and defeat, of the powerlessness of resistance, the realisation that his life, for the time being at least, was to be determined by her movements, her preferences, her dispensations.
He had in effect nowhere else to turn: she offered security, but on her terms. Seen thus, it need not be read merely as the craven and obeisant act of submission that many have judged it to be. It does also suggest that an intervening letter or conversation had promised to make amends, to repair their relationship, and her solicitude for his welfare in the next years, and his willingness to undertake acts of sacrifice on her behalf, would bear this out.
While Schlegel went through these rites of acquiescence and homage, accepting his role in a court where all was free but by the same token all was subtly controlled, at his desk, in those hours when there were no conversations and no social duties, he was able to perform some small acts of insubordination. Caricature drawing, undated [? Orphan work.
When he reviewed the posthumous papers of Jacques Necker, he found the same hagiographical tone appropriate that Germaine always employed with reference to her father. He also started writing in French. It is a thirty-to-forty-page fragment that Schlegel never published in his lifetime, much of it derivative and not all of its arguments sustained.
We do not know for whom or for what occasion it was written. It has echoes here and there of Rom , from the same year. We have lost original unities—those of philosophy with poetry or law-making with cosmogony—and our scientific discoveries serve only to make the material world available.
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The old idea of a Golden Age expressed this in terms of a primal energy, organic forces at work in natural rhythms, traces of which can be found in most ancient cultures. That is one side. Boredom was another form of melancholy and depression. Something had to be done to ward it off.
Apart from writing frequent letters to Auguste in Paris, there was her other, slightly brainless, son Albert to consider.
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We know very little of this except what Schlegel tells us in a letter to his sister-in-law in Hanover, and a few lines to Sophie. Rousseau in It had been a very serious diversion since her childhood, when she had some lessons in the speaking of verse from the celebrated actress Mademoiselle Clairon.
In Germany, it had added to her reputation for eccentric celebrity, as it would later in Vienna and Stockholm.
This also meant Schlegel. We can imagine him as a lecturer in Jena or Berlin reading verse with good accentuation and even with feeling; and we know of his concern—also shared by Goethe— that the actors in Ion in Weimar should speak their lines well. Of his acting skills we know less. The ever-malicious Benjamin Constant claimed that he was comical in tragedy and not happy in comedy, but that we may largely discount. Schlegel knew, as probably no-one else present did, that Lessing had once subjected this play to one of his elegant demolitions in the Hamburgische Dramaturgie , and Schlegel had already made no secret of his disdain for French neo-classicism.
This was in the article that he sent to the Berliner Damen-Kalender for thus late in , Ueber einige tragische Rollen von Frau v. She had of course been romantically associated with Schlegel in Berlin, and he had paid court to her in verse —and, who knows, perhaps in other form. The context is crucial. Similarly, he would be careful not to display too many of the prejudices against French and to some extent Italian neo-classicism to which his Berlin lectures had most recently given expression.
Schlegel assured his German readers that she possessed the poise, the ease of movement and gesture, the mastery of spoken language, that the actor must have, but above all the ability to make the poetic character her own, to act from within the dictates of her own heart, to empathise, to draw the audience into her own pain and suffering. There was none of the alleged forced declamation of some of the leading Paris actors. Apart from its ability to move Schlegel found words in French verse , the play has the merit of breaking with the conventions of the French stage, being in prose, allowing for mime, and with instrumental interludes between the speeches.
Diana, Aurora, Atalanta, Althea—the gamut of mythological emotion, terror, dignity, fury, despair—came easily to Ida. Schlegel wrote a poem in her honour. First, they went to Lyon, then to Auxerre. She disclaimed any interest in politics, only a wish to live in the metropolis, but Napoleon and his agents were inexorable. She could at least send Schlegel and Albert to Paris for ten days, which happened in May. In August, however, Schlegel fell ill. There is something of the Wunderdoktor and charlatan about him, especially his magnetic cures; there is also no doubt that he was skilled at his profession.
His approach to Schlegel was holistic, prescribing what was thought appropriate at the time and rightly warning him not to take too much quinine , also probing into his state of mind. Could there not be some hidden cause for this persistent fever, some worry or anxiety or grief? She was to be there from the end of November until April The rest of the time was more disciplined, with museums, libraries, theatre. She in her turn was taking Schlegel more and more into her confidence, using him as a signatory on documents for loans with an eye to purchasing property in France Acosta was one possibility.
She signed a contract with the publisher Nicolle, and arranged with Cotta for the German translation to be done by Friedrich Schlegel in fact, by Dorothea. She was sending Auguste back to Geneva to prepare him for his confirmation, the religious education of her children being something that she took very seriously.
His mother meanwhile was not making it easy for those around her. She was putting out feelers to Metternich if only by sending him a copy of Corinne and other Austrian grandees. It was a novel about Italy, and essentially about two English characters in Italy, not French, and the main French character was largely unflattering. Its Anglophile sentiments, which admittedly did not extend to all the characters or all the moral situations, were another source of irritation.
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She would not back down, and the price was further exile. The extended family made its way back to Coppet in May-June, He would follow it up with the longer and more sustained review of the novel which appeared later in the year in the Jena Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. The first point could be dealt with in a few masterful and disdainful sentences; the second would require more circumspection. While not being exactly the Oswald to her Corinne—far from it—he had been her companion through much that was here translated into fiction, and he had helped to ease the pangs of its creation.
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The Germans, who like no other literary nation had placed artists in the centre of their drama and fiction, might be expected to be sympathetic to a novel about an artist, Corinne the chosen vessel of providence. They could take in their stride a many-stranded text that took a love story, a travelogue, and long passages of art criticism, and interlaced them into a successful whole, a balanced ensemble aspects that even well-intentioned readers today do not find easy to reconcile. He was perhaps on less secure ground with the emotional content of the novel, but he made his position on Oswald clear immature and unsteady , and hoped that his female readers would agree.
The envoi of the review was puzzling.
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Was he piqued that, say, Monti was directly quoted in the text, while he and his brother Friedrich, whose Romantic art appreciation from Europa certainly informed passage after passage of the novel, were sidelined in a note each? It seemed that he was. The real Corinne would have forgiven him this little touch of personal vanity.
Others would soon approach the novel with a definite parti pris. They paused here long enough for Schlegel to meet the librarian and to be shown two Roman mosaics in the city. It gave him the opportunity for his first piece of sustained archaeological description: a longer account of the scene of a chariot race on the one surface, and a shorter section on an allegorical scene of sensual and spiritual love.
Schlegel shows here that he can be technical and learned, while also giving a spirited portrayal of the scenes depicted. The two ladies made an excursion to the glaciers at Chamonix: the reflected sunlight threatened to ruin their complexions. The savant-traveller was also—how could it be otherwise? He kept his ears open for gradations in dialect: knowing Middle High German, he would spot the affinities of Swiss German and this older form. The journey on foot was also a progression through pristine nature and uncorrupted morals.
True, there were three set-piece descriptions that showed an eye for both nature and human customs; and there was disapproval of the tourism that had already sprung up. Prince August of Prussia, who was forced to spend six weeks in Coppet while waiting for passports for himself and Clausewitz, fell passionately in love with her during the time he spent at Coppet they later vowed eternal love, without marriage. Closer in time, he would state to his sister-in-law Dorothea Schlegel that he merely wanted to stir things up, get people annoyed, and to Goethe he used a similar tone.
When these lectures were available, first in German, then in French, the full extent of his thinking on the notion of the classic, on classicism, on neo-classicism, would be shown in its widest context. Title page. It was a question of how one approached revival or recrudescence, not the principle itself. By placing this passage in the centre of his treatise, Schlegel was aligning himself with someone who had entered the Greek world with heart and mind and soul and spirit.
She did not place Racine on a pinnacle for all time, as Voltaire had done. All the same, when directing the same notion of progress towards Greek drama, she placed the trio Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides in descending order of merit. There were further contradictions. While correctly seeing that Euripides and Racine are basically different, she was unable to suppress the insight that only a Frenchman, not a Greek, could have written.
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He could be more outspoken before the audience of his Vienna Lectures a year later. As said, it stands essentially between the Berlin Lectures and those in Vienna, rehearsing some insights of the one and anticipating views expressed later. In the Comparaison we have the same gradation of esteem but also for the sake of his argument an implicit equality.
Inconsistencies creep in. He does not bring out essential but equally valid differences, as Herder had done forty years earlier when comparing Sophocles with Shakespeare.
He notes rather how much Racine has borrowed from his Greek source and how much he has changed, not why a seventeenth-century dramatist would find many motifs from Greek tragedy unsuitable or why he would read them differently from antiquity or from the early nineteenth century , bound as he was by the conventions of his own theatre that called for a love intrigue quite impossible in Athens but permissible in Paris.