Friedrich Schlegel Critical Edition

Research, presentation and (digital) edition

Project head: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Breuer

On 1.4.2008, a Schlegel Edition centre was established with funds from the Thyssen Foundation. It is affiliated to the Institute of German of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and its continued existence until the possible beginning of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) is being made possible by the Research Unit Historical Cultural Sciences.

Friedrich Schlegel

With Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829), the probably most original mind of the early Romantic period, developments of German literary and cultural history come into view going far beyond its narrower surroundings, in particular the famous circle of Romantics in Jena. Important stations of German literary history are linked with Schlegel, such as, for instance, Leipzig of the rococo period, Jena of idealistic philosophy, Berlin of Prussian reforms, Napoleonic Paris, Vienna of the Restoration, as well as a whole gallery of important personalities, beginning with his brother August Wilhelm through figures such as Wilhelm von Humboldt and Görres to Metternich. Schlegel’s role as founder of modern philology can also hardly be overrated. His wide-ranging comparative studies, his productive connection to contemporary philosophy and aesthetics, his concept of the term work, his reflections on generic poetics, on intensive reading as a foundation of systematic literary studies, on linguistic theory, on translating, on literary criticism and literary history, and not least on edition set standards still valid, particularly today, for the self-reflection of the humanities.

The Schlegel Edition centre

The tasks of the centre, which is (under the overall direction of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Breuer) – initially for the period of one year – run by Dr. Maren Jäger and a student assistant, consisted first of all in the preparation of a database into which all references to letters from and to Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel were included. After taking up contact with the institutions in possession of the letters, already about six hundred letters in different libraries and archives have been recorded in digitised form; in the course of 2009, a digitised version in intended to be prepared as far as possible of all Friedrich Schlegel’s available autographs. In order to be able to carry out the work on the spot with the necessary professionalism, a mobile scanning system equipped with a reflex camera from the Vestigia company was purchased by the Research Group Historical Cultural Sciences. This has already brought outstanding results and will also be available in future for other projects and cooperation partners of the Research Unit. The expert photographer Monika Gräwe from the Digital Documentation Centre has been entrusted with post-editing the digitised versions.

The “Friedrich Schlegel Digital” project

At the beginning of the year (in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Burch, Managing Director of the Competence Centre for Electronic Accessing and Publication Procedures in the Humanities at the University of Trier), an application was submitted to the DFG with which it was intended to initiate a Friedrich Schlegel Digital project. The project is intended to prepare a digital edition of Friedrich Schlegel’s writings and of the letter from and to Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel on the basis of the “Critical Friedrich Schlegel edition” (KFSA) begun by Ernst Behler and now being continued under the editorship of Ulrich Breuer. Apart from the retrospective digitisation, the project is intended to serve for the completion of the outstanding volumes of the KFSA. The project is breaking new ground with a retrospective and at the same time progressive digital edition. Finally, the digital edition offers the opportunity for a revision of those parts of the KFSA which are subject to justified criticism. The digital Schlegel edition will meet international standards and provide optimal research possibilities with a user-friendly system interface in order to achieve the greatest possible acceptance at home and abroad. In addition, tools are being developed within this framework for the progressive editing and revision of the existing edition which will permit editors in future to have direct access to the online edition.