Corpus Part Two: My dearest friend (to whom I owe so much money)

In my post Corpus Part One, I presented the work manuscript of Ludwig Tieck’s Roxane, a youth drama which Johanna Preusse is editing.

Now Ludwig Tieck did not only have several focus of interest, he also lived a very long life, being thus able to experience the early Romanticism, the Napoleonian Wars, the Revolution of 1848 and in between all that, several moments of Restauration. Through this long period of time, the one who was in his young years one of the very first writers to actually live on his book sells, refusing any form of dependency from a Prince, turned into a reactionary court theater director. This evolution did not happen from one day to another. The literary and financial crisis Ludwig Tieck went through after 1800 and before he started his successful novel phase in the 1820s contributed decisively to the changes in his personality and in his life vision.

This crisis phase is known for Tieck’s apparent lack of productivity. At this turning point, he in fact ended up a production cycle he had begun in his school years, reworking and re-editing some of his major youth work in the collection Phantasus and working in parallel on what would become central elements of his post-1820s work (especially Shakespeare).

In that sense, most of his literary activity of that time is not so much recorded by his works than by his sketches and his letters to the friends.

Friendships are probably the saddest part of Tieck’s life. Like many of his contemporaries, but maybe even more than most of them, Tieck needed an alter ego that would make him productive. At first, it was his school friend Wackenroder who took this role. Wackenroder had a great influence on Tieck’s Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings and they wrote together  the Outpourings of an Art-Loving Friar, both major literary successes in the late 1790s and milestones in the development of romantic art theory.

But Wackenroder died as early as 1798 and left Tieck unconsolable.

When Tieck married and came to Jena shortly after that, a similarly intense friendship started between him and Novalis, one of the most amazing romantic thinkers and writers – and a successful one, too: in his Heinrich von Ofterdingen, he introduced the now well-known blue flower.

But Novalis too died not long after, in 1803. (I told you it would not be funny)

A few years later, around 1811, Tieck got to know someone completely different. His name was Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger and he was all what Tieck hated: a philosopher and a philologist in the most institutional way, a patriot, an appointed professor. Surprisingly, they became very close (if you want to know why, you can read my paper  on “Tieck and Solger. Un dialogue philosophico-littéraire” in: Philosophy and literature and the crisis of metaphysics, ed. by Sebastian Hüsch).

But then – you guessed it, I suppose – Solger died unexpectedly. We are now in the fall of 1819, and Tieck recently managed to escape his year long depression. He moved to Dresden together with his wife, two daughters and mistress, left his depressive mood behind – and enjoyed life so much that he did not find the time, in the summer and fall of 1819, to write to Solger. He had left several of Solger’s letters, requests and essential life questions unanswered, when the news that Solger had died reached him. We can retrace this quite precisely thanks to the 1934 edition of Tieck and Solger. The Complete Correspondence by Percy Matenko (transcription: accurate; layout: not fantastic; commentaries: mediocre to wrong – but still the only edition sofar).

Together with Solger’s other two best friends, Friedrich von Raumer and Ludwig Krause, Tieck decided to publish Solger’s papers as a tribute to their friendship and to Solger’s intellectual influence and pertinence in his time (a point that is still not really recognized today – but you are welcome to read Solgers Nachgelassene Schriften und Briefwechsel, ed. by Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich von Raumer, anyway!). The correspondence we will be editing is the one Tieck had with Friedrich von Raumer starting after Solger’s death and ending in the 1850s.

You will not be surprised to read that Tieck transferred part of his friendship affects on Friedrich von Raumer (Krause died before the book was even finished). He reflects it himself in one letter, complaining that Wackenroder left him, Novalis too, Solger too, and someday, for sure, Raumer too would leave him alone (he was wrong: Raumer survived him by twenty years). As you can imagine, the first part of the correspondence has a lot to do with the remembrances of Solger and the preparation of their common edition.

Surely, Tieck and Raumer did not share as many literary interests as Tieck had shared with his previous best friends. But two things brought them closer to one another: one is politics and the other one is money. In my paper “Intellektuelle Öffentlichkeit. Friedrich von Raumers Weg zwischen Politik und Wissenschaft”, in: Berlins 19. Jahrhundert. Ein Metropolen-Kompendium, ed. by Berbig, D’Aprile, Peitsch, Schütz, you can read why Raumer is an interesting correspondence partner when it comes to politics. The money question was for Tieck a crucial one, his life long, especially when he was less productive. He even had to sell his book collection at some point. The correspondence shows how often he borrowed money from Raumer, who could not only rely on a solid family inheritance, but had also – if I may put it this way – as serious job. Tieck trying to escape his debts, the strategies, the hopes to write a lot in order to make all the necesssary money – you can find all that in theses letters.

But the letters also deal with Shakespeare. So everything is saved, isn’t it?

For an introduction to Tieck’s life and work, I recommend L. Tieck. A literary biography by Roger Paulin. There is a German version too, but the original is English 🙂


Cite this blog post
Anne Baillot (2011, December 15). Corpus Part Two: My dearest friend (to whom I owe so much money). Digital Intellectuals. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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