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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 329 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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AUGUST WILHELM VON SCHLEGEL (1767-1845), German poet, translator and critic, was born on the 8th of September, 1767, at Hanover, where his father, Johann Adolf Schlegel (1721-1793), was a Lutheran pastor. He was educated at the Hanover gymnasium and at the university of Gottingen. Having spent some years as a tutor in the house of a banker at Amsterdam, he went to Jena, where, in 1796, he married Karoline, the widow of the physician Bohmer (see SCIIELLING, KAROLINE) and in 1798 was appointed extraordinary professor. Here he began his translation of Shakespeare, which was ultimately completed, under the superintendence of Ludwig Tieck, by Tieck's daughter Dorothea and Graf W. H. Baudissin. This rendering is one of the best poetical translations in German, or indeed in any language. At Jena Schlegel contributed to Schiller's periodicals the Horen and the Musenalmanach; and with his brother Friedrich he conducted the Athenaeum, the organ of the Romantic school, He also published a volume of poems, and carried on a rather bitter controversy with Kotzebue. At this time the two brothers were remarkable for the vigour and freshness of their ideas, and commanded respect as the leaders of the new Romantic criticism. A volume of their joint essays appeared in 18oi under the title Charakteristiken and Kritiken. In 1802 Schlegel went to Berlin, where he delivered lectures on art and literature; and in the following year he published Ion, a tragedy in Euripidean style, which gave rise to a suggestive discussion on the principles of dramatic poetry. This was followed by Spanisches Theater (2 vols., 1803-1809), in which he presented admirable translations of five of Calderon's plays; and in another volume, Blumenstraiisse italienischer, spanischer and portuguesischer Poesie (1804), he gave translations of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian lyrics. In 1807 he attracted much attention in France by an essay in the French language, Comparaison entre la Phedre de Racine et celle d'Euripide, in which he attacked French classicism from the standpoint of the Romantic school. His lectures on dramatic art and literature (Uber dramatische Kunst and Literatur, 1809-1811), which have been translated into most European languages, were delivered at Vienna in ,8o8. Meanwhile, after a divorce from his wife Karoline, in 1804, he travelled in France, Germany, Italy and other countries with Madame de Stael, who owed to him many of the ideas which she embodied in her work, De l'Allemagne. In 1813 he acted as secretary of the crown prince of Sweden, through whose influence the right of his family to noble rank was revived. Schlegel was made a professor of literature at the university of Bonn in 1818, and during the remainder of his life occupied himself chiefly with oriental studies, although he continued to lecture on art and literature, and in 1828 he issued two volumes of critical writings (Kritische Schriften). In 1823-183o he published the journal Indische Bibliothek (3 vols.) and edited (1823) the Bhagavad-Gita with a Latin translation, and (1829) the Ramdyana. These works mark the beginning of Sanskrit scholarship in Germany. After the death of Madame de Stael Schlegel married (1818) a daughter of Professor Paulus of Heidelberg; but this union was dissolved in 182r. He died at Bonn on the 12th of May 1845. As an original poet Schlegel is unimportant, but as a poetical translator he has rarely been excelled, and in criticism he put into practice the Romantic principle that a critic's first duty is not to judge from the stand-point of superiority, but to understand and to " characterize " a work of art. In 1846-1847 Schlegel's Samtliche Werke were issued in twelve volumes by E. Bocking. There are also editions by the same editor of his 1Euvres ecrites en francais (3 vols., 1846), and of his Opuscula Latine scripta (1848). Schlegel's Shakespeare translations have been often reprinted; the edition of 1871-1872 was revised with Schlegel's MSS. by M. Bernays. See M. Bernays, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Schlegelschen Shakespeare (1872); R. Genee, Schlegel and Shakespeare (1903). Schlegel's Berlin lectures of 18o1-1804 were reprinted from MS. notes by J. Minor (1884). A selection of the writings of both A. W. and Friedrich Schlegel, edited by O. F. Walzel, will be found in Kiirschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur, 143 (1892). See especially R. Haym, Romantische Schule, and the article in the Allg. deutsche Biographie by F. Muncker.
End of Article: AUGUST WILHELM VON SCHLEGEL (1767-1845)

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