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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
August Wilhelm von Schlegel (1767–1845)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
THE OLDER Romantic school of Germany, which had its origin in the movement inaugurated by Herder and Goethe, found in the Schlegel brothers (August Wilhelm and Friedrich) its first philosophical expounders. It is in this sense that historians refer to them as the founders of the new school. In the pages of the Athenæum, which from 1798 to 1800 was the official organ of the Romanticists, the Schlegels, by their essays and aphorisms, sought to establish upon philosophic foundations a critical theory of romantic poetry.  1
  The two brothers came of a family of poets and distinguished men. Their father, Johann Elias Schlegel, was the author of several tragedies in Alexandrines; and although he belonged to the periwig-pated age of Gottsched, he had called public attention to the beauties of Shakespeare. Their two uncles, Johann Adolf and Johann Heinrich Schlegel, were, the former a well-known poet and pulpit orator, the latter royal historiographer of Denmark.  2
  August Wilhelm, the elder brother, was the less original of the two, but he nevertheless won distinction as a poet and a scholar and especially as a translator of the dramas of Calderón and Shakespeare. He began his translation of Shakespeare in 1798 and completed seventeen plays, the undertaking being finally carried through under the superintendence of Ludwig Tieck. His lectures on ‘Dramatic Art and Literature,’ delivered in Vienna in 1808, have been translated into many languages and in England deeply influenced the criticism of Coleridge. A. W. von Schlegel was in life and in letters intimately associated with two extremely brilliant women—with his wife, Karoline, who aided him in his translations, and who, after her divorce, married the philosopher Schelling,—and with Madame de Staël, with whom he traveled about Europe and whom he assisted with her famous book ‘De l’Allemagne’ (Germany). His later years were passed as professor of literature in the University of Bonn, and he was a pioneer in Sanskrit scholarship in Germany. As a critic he did much to establish the romanticist principle that criticism should be appreciative and interpretative.  3
 
 
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