Old flirt

Having had to stay at home for a few sick days, I had the unexpected opportunity to spend some time encoding. It was a relief to finally manage to find time. It was a pleasure to see the edition growing again. It was a delight to approach new themes and enrich the index of persons. It was depressing to open a new topic, that will require some intense reading before I can write good comments on the letters.

We are now in the early 1820s. Tieck has moved to Dresden in 1819 when the father of his mistress died, thus freeing her from her duties towards the family. Change of setting, but no real change of characters: Tieck lives in Dresden with said mistress, but also, still, with his wife Amalia and his daughters Dorothea and Agnes.

Change of activities in comparison to his time in Ziebingen, for sure. After having spent years in an isolation that lead to depression and, in order to escape  the isolation as well as the pressure of the life in the castle of his mistress’ father together with his own family, to travels. In Dresden, Tieck re-discovers life. Water parties, meeting with people, writing again. From the Summer 1819 on, he was so absorbed by this resurrection to social life that he forgot to write letters, even to his best friend Solger, who was trying to get him a job at the Berlin University. And died in October. Tieck felt terribly guilty about not answering Solger’s letters on time, I mentioned that already, and this was a motivation to publish Solger’s leftover papers. This, he did together with their common friend Friedrich von Raumer. It is precisely the letters from Tieck to Raumer in the time when they prepare this edition I am talking about now. That part of the correspondence, I can comment on and assess.

Two things are particularly interesting in that respect in the four letters I have encoded this week. First, it appears that Brockhaus, the publisher, contributed greatly to shaping the book. He modified the order of the texts (Tieck writes: “zu meinem Erstaunen stehen die kleineren Aufsätze und die Correspondenz im Ersten Bande” and “da nachher doch immer, wie ich sehe, meine kleinen Zwischensätze eintreten” in the letter from December 10th, 1825). Second, there is the conflict between Solger and his friend Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen. This (sometimes pretty rough) exchange of letters from 1819 deals with the question what philology has to be, what its scholarly meaning should be: a debate that can be read as a way of defining two very different “romantic” approaches to cultural history. It seems that Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen had some reluctance at showing himself under that light after all:  “Aber der lange Brief an Hagen! Er hat damals gesagt, er hätte ihn mir hier gelassen. Das ist aber nicht der Fall. Es scheint, er will ihn nicht drucken lassen.” (Tieck to Raumer, letter from May 14th, 1824). Sure thing is, Tieck found the letter after all, because it is printed in Solgers Nachgelassene Schriften and Briefwechsel, and is frankly polemical. (note to self: check correspondence between Tieck and von der Hagen in that period)(additional note to self: don’t keep hopes too high, since von Raumer and von der Hagen were colleagues at the Berlin University and might have discussed this orally, leaving no trace).

Now to the really new part: the theater. The 50 year-old Tieck seems to have intensified socializing with theater people in Dresden in the early 1820s. The letters deal with young, promising actresses he directs, he teaches, he protects, or sends to his Berlin friends asking them to be nice to them: Rosalie Wagner (sister to Richard), Julie Gley, Auguste Stich. The letters deal with young, promising theater writers Tieck despises when they threaten him (Holtei), supports when they abide by him (Uechtritz). Directing actors the way Tieck did in Dresden seems to have involved a clash of narcissisms – and Tieck was certainly not the one with the smallest ego.

Beyond the gossip, beyond the 50 year-old flirt wanting to experience real life again, there is one passion, though: Shakespeare. Reading through the lines, you realize that it was only Shakespeare Tieck cared about, whether on the stage and in the form of books. I do wonder why, in these letters, he never mentions the real work that was done by then. Because in those 1820s, Dorothea Tieck und Wolf von Baudissin were translating Shakespeare for what would become its most famous translation in German: the Schlegel-Tieck.

 


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