august wilhelm schlegel`s wiener vorlesungen and bohl von faber`s



august wilhelm schlegel`s wiener vorlesungen and bohl von faber`s
In the Spanish literary debates concerning the revival of the Golden
Age comedia, 1 August Wilhelm Schlegel's name was to figure prominently and his Vorlesungen uber dramatische Kunst und Literatur
(subsequently referred to as 'Vienna Lectures') were to give rise to one
of the most notorious literary polemics in the history of Spain: the
'querelle calderonienne'. 2 The course of lectures, given by Schlegel in
Vienna in 1808 and published in Heidelberg in 1809-11, was hailed by
Josef Korner as 'Die Botschaft der deutschen Romantik an Europa'. 3
It popularized the theories of the Romantic circle and effectively made
Schlegel the mediator between German Romanticism and the rest of
Europe. Translations of the Vienna Lectures appeared soon in French,
English and Italian. No official translation appeared in Spanish. Yet
the partial version (Sobre el teatro espanol) by the self-appointed
translator, Johan Nikolas Bohl von Faber (born in Hamburg in 1770),
did not go unnoticed and initiated the Romantic period proper in
Spain; indeed, D.L. Shaw has labelled the polemic as 'the first
landmark in the study of Spanish Romanticism'. 4 This article studies
Bohl's translation.
Bohl was educated by the celebrated pedagogue J.H. Campe.
Indeed, Campe's daughter-in-law, Elise, initiated scholarship on Bohl
with her Versuch einer Lebensskizze von Johan Nikolas Bohl von Faber.
Nach seinen eigenen Briefen, published anonymously in Leipzig in 1858
1 The baroque comedia had languished during the eighteenth century, displaced by neoclassical plays. A movement to revive it was afoot by the turn of the century.
2 See C. Pitollet, La querelle calderonienne de J.N. Bohl von Faber et Jose Joaquin de Mora
reconstitute d'apres les documents originaux (Paris: Alcan, 1909), subsequently referred to in the
text, with page number, as Querelle. His book is now extremely rare. The Spanish critic
Guillermo Carnero reported three extant copies in his study Los origenes del romanticismo
reaccionario espanol: el matrimonio Bohl de Faber (Valencia: University of Valencia Press, 1975),
hereafter referred to (with page number) as Origenes, 59, a work I shall comment upon later. I
have discovered that the Sydney Jones Library at Liverpool University possesses a further copy (I
am indebted to Dr Roger Wright for his help in locating it).
3 See Josef Korner's work of the same name (Augsburg: Benno Filser, 1929).
4 cf. D.L. Shaw, 'Spain: Romantico-Romanticismo-Romancesco-Romanesco-RomancistaRomantico', in Romantic and its Cognates: The European History of a Word, ed. II. Eichner
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), 341-71. See 343.
(hereafter referred to as Versuch), where she outlines the intellectual
development of Bohl, the family friend. Campe's Versuch and the
opuscule by J. Dornhof, Johann Niklaus Bohl von Faber: ein Vorkdmpfer der Romantik in Spanien,5 are the first German studies on
Bohl.6 Later, in 1956, the distinguished German Hispanist Hans
Juretschke published his article 'Die Deutung und Darstellung der
deutschen Romantik durch Bohl von Faber in Spanien, mit einem
Anhang von Briefen an Martin Fernandez de Navarrete',7 which is an
important analysis of Bohl's role as the herald of German Romanticism
in Spain. The present article hopes to supplement Juretschke's study.
Campe writes that, in 1784, Bohl moved to Spain to represent the
family's commercial interests in Cadiz. In 1796, he married Frasquita
Larrea, a Spanish woman of strong temperament, a staunch Catholic
and fervent monarchist, and a passionate lover of Spain's traditional
literature. Also an enthusiastic admirer of the English pre-Romantic
writers, particularly Burke and Young, she was a woman in the
Romantic tradition of proto-feminism, and was herself an intelligent,
if sometimes over-zealously patriotic, writer.
In 1806 Bohl moved back to Germany where he was to stay until
1813. There he followed the aesthetic revolution in his native country.
He was greatly influenced by the Romantic writers. Arnim and
Brentano's Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1806-08) inspired one of his first
publications, namely Vier und zwanzig deutsche Lieder aus des Knaben
Wunderhorn mit bekannten meist dlteren Weisen beim Clavier zu singen
(1810). His reading also included the works of the Schlegel brothers,
Tieck, Schelling, Novalis and, of course, Goethe, whose figure,
towering over the Romantic group, was to exercise a significant
influence on his development.
During his stay in Gorslow Bohl underwent his religious conversion. In true Romantic form, he experienced an emotional and
intellectual reaction against the rationalism of his age, particularly
5 Hamburg: Seminar fur romanische Sprachen und Kultur, 1925.
6 Unfortunately, these two texts are extremely rare also. I have been fortunate enough to
obtain a photocopy of Campe's Versuch (and indeed of the correspondence between Bohl and
Julius) from the custodians of the Bohl Archive, Osborne y Cia. in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain,
for which I wish to express my thanks to Mr Tomas Osborne Gamero-Civico. German sources
are of the utmost importance to Bohlian studies. Carnero's book, though erudite, is much too
political to offer an objective view of him and offers no aesthetic insight into Bohl's writings
vis-a-vis their German sources. Juretschke, writing in 1982, gave his verdict on the two main
studies on Bohl: 'Ninguno de los libros, ni el de Pitollet ni el de Carnero, reflejan la intencion
primaria de Bohl, los dos utilizan indebidamente las manifestaciones de su mujer, los dos se
quedan en la periferia'; see 'La presencia del ideario romantico aleman en la estructura y
evolution teorica del romanticismo espanol', Ramanticismo I: Atti del II Congresso sulRomanticismo spagnolo e ispanoamericano (Genoa, 1982), 11-24 (hereafter referred to, with page numbers,
as 'Presencia').
7 Spanische Forschungen der Gorres-Gesellschaft: Aufsdtze zur Kulturgeschichte Spaniens, Series
I, 12 (1956), 147-91, subsequently referred to as DuD and the collection zsSFdGG. Juretschke
studies all the writings in the polemic. I shall only analyse the first article.
against the excesses of the French Revolution. 8 Bohl himself refers to
his transformation as 'Wiedergeburt im Norden' (Querelle., 30). He
read eagerly the works of the mystics, seeking them in dusty bookshops. In his letter to Campe on 25 February 1810 he writes: [Ich]
mufite auch auf mystische Schriften stofien, ich habe deren verschiedene mit grofiem Anteil gelesen und lese sie noch.' On 6 May
1810, as he grew more convinced of his spiritual calling, he wrote to
Nikolaus Heinrich Julius, himself a convert: 'Ich [. . . ] habe auch
langst mein Ziel in Hinsicht auf die Bediirfnisse des Herzens in eine
andere schonere Welt gesetzt.'9
Poetry also helped Bohl to resolve this inner conflict, his keenlyfelt struggle between a nostalgia for the past and a longing for future
happiness. He writes on 26 August 1812:
Dieses Hangen an der Vergangenheit mit dem Sehnen nach der Zukunft in
Ubereinstimmung zu bringen, ist eine schwere Aufgabe. Ich helfe mir durch eine
poetische Ansicht heraus: Zeit und Raum namlich sind Tauschungen, welche Poesie
zu vertilgen strebt. Zeit durch den Rhythmus, Raum durch die Metapher oder
tibertragung, welche alien poetischen Ideen zum Grunde liegt. Poesie ist Ahnung des
kunftigen vollkommenern Zustandes. So ware demnach vielleicht nichts unwiederbringlich verloren, das Vergangene und das Zukimftige konnten dereinst zusammenfallen, Himmel und Erde eins werden (Versuch, 75).
Bohl sought to escape the prosaic world where his sensitive soul felt
alien, into a magical, mythical world. After studying Des Knaben
Wunderhorn and marking in it his favourite poems for the benefit of
August Campe's wife, Elise, Bohl wrote to him in 1807: 'Es wird mich
freuen, wenn sie sich dadurch, sowie ich, der triiben Gegenwart
entrissen und in jenes wunderbar poetische Land versetzt fiihlen wird
(Versuch, 52).
It was Goethe, however, who best helped him to understand
himself. Recognizing his inner spiritual reality, he writes to Julius on 6
April 1810.
Lange habe ich dieses geahnt, aber nicht gewagt, es auszusprechen, bis ich in den
unvergleichlichen 'Wahlverwandschaften' fand: 'Und so finden wir die Menschen,
iiber deren Veranderlichkeit soviel Klage gefiihrt wird, nach vielen Jahren zu unserm
Erstaunen unverandert, und nach aupern und innern unendlichen Anregungen
unveranderlich'. 10
Goethe's novel had enabled Bohl to recognize the innate spirituality
which he felt his own education had repressed, and he remained a
strong influence on him: even after returning to Spain Bohl continued
8 Roger Paulin has summed up this Romantic reaction in Ludwig Tieck as follows: 'it is
perhaps the reaction . . to a decade which had earlier planted distinctly humanist trees and
enthroned a decidedly un-Christian Supreme Being', R. Paulin, Ludwig Ticck: A Literary
Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 137.
9 The unpublished letters are held in the Staats- und Umversitatsbibliothek Hamburg.
10 Bohl quotes from chapter seventeen, in the second part of Die Wahlrerwandtschaflen.
to read his works and to profit from the 'Lebensweisheit' of the great
Olympian. In April 1815, whilst reading the third part of Goethe's
autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit, he wrote to Campe: 'Niemand
heitert mich so auf als Goethe [. . .] ich fiihle mich selbst doppelt,
nachdem ich ihn gelesen, ich werde zufriedener mit mir selbst, weil
ich mich besser kennen und meine Eigentiimlichkeit mehr ehren
lerne' (Versuch, 82). The inner struggle ended for Bohl when he was
accepted into the Catholic Church in 1813. 11
Shortly before his departure from Gbrslow, Bohl asked August
Campe to find the whereabouts of August Wilhelm Schlegel and relay
to him an 'essay' which his wife Frasquita had written after reading
Schlegel's 'Vienna Lectures' and his praise of the Spanish theatre. 12
The letter to Schlegel also enclosed three poems written in romance
metre by their young poet-friend, Jose Joaquin de Mora, whom
Frasquita admired for his patriotism. 13 Frasquita thanks Schlegel in
her letter for his pronouncements on Spain and requests an acknowledgement from him, which she duly obtains. 14 Schlegel's letter
contains significant concepts of Romantic theory; I quote it in full,
II est impossible de vous exprimer I'impression que j'ai eprouvee en recevant la lettre
aussi spirituelle que pleine de grace que vous m'avez fait 1'honneur de m'ecrire.
Depuis que j'ai tache de me faire un nom en litterature, il ne m'est rien arrive qui m'ait
flatte davantage. Chacune de ces lignes que je relis sans cesse porte 1'empreinte d'une
belle ame, faite pour se nourrir de toutes les idees sublimes et de tous les sentiments
eleves. Vos remarques sur le caractere et le genie critique de votre nation sont aussi
justes que pleines d'un enthousiasme poetique. Les Espagnols ont peu participe aux
seductions brillantes du 18me siecle. Les bouleversements politiques amenes par le
relachement de tous les principes et 1'audace irreligieuse d'un raisonnement superficiel, ces bouleversements sont aussi tombes sur 1'Espagne: son reveil subit a etc
terrible, mais, je 1'espere, salutaire dans ses suites. Louis XIV avail deja dit:
Desormais il n'y aura plus de Pyrenees; Boccage 1'a repete das un sens plus atroce et
plus despotique. Mais c'est Dieu meme qui a embelli le globe par la diversite des
nations: il n'est pas donne a un tyran de defaire cette oeuvre divine. Les Pyrenees
existent et existeront toujours: elles eleveront plus que jamais leurs cimes glacees vers
le ciel comme une barriere insurmontable pour votre independence et votre originalite
nationale. Apres la liberte reconquise les arts de la paix fleuriront de nouveau dans
votre patrie: 1'agriculture, le commerce, les sciences et les beaux arts, surtout la
poesie, car les poetes viennent d'ordinaire a la suite des heros. Le danger qui vous
menac.ait depuis quelque temps de voir etabli chez vous la domination du gout
11 Bohl would probably have remained under the influence of Goethe but for his conversion to
Catholicism, after which his models became the Schlegel brothers.
12 Josef Korner analyses the correspondence relating to this episode, 'J.N. Bohl von Faber und
August Wilhelm Schlegel', Die Neueren Sprachen, xxxvii (1929), 53-8.
13 Mora was to turn from friend to bitter enemy and lead the polemic against Bohl. The
reasons for his volte-face remain a mystery to scholars.
14 Also reprinted in Oskar Walzel's 'Neue Quellen zur Geschichte der alteren romantischen
Schule', Zeitschrift fur die osterreichischen Gymnasien, xlii (1891), 103-5. See QuereUe, 75 and
Origenes, 161-2. Neither Pitollet nor Carnero comments on the contents.
frangais, a disparu pour toujours. La symetrie compressee et la gene conventionnelle
de la poesie franc, aise ne pouvait nullement convenir au genie audacieux, aux passions
profondes et silencieuses, et a 1'imagination ardente de votre nation. En general,
1'imitation servile ne vaurait jamais a rien de grand. Lorsque la poesie d'un pays a mis
son elan et qu'elle est devenue sterile il faut la regenerer en puisant au puits de sa
propre antiquite. Je suis done tout a fait d'accord avec votre poete captif sur la valeur
de vos anciennes romances et je I'approuve fort de vouloir faire retentir de nouveau ses
simples accents de la nature. Us sont reveur et melancolique, mais cette teinte
primitive a etc un peu eclipsee sous la pompe de votre poesie artificielle. La
communaute de la cause de la liberte fondera une nouvelle fraternite entre les
Espagnols et les Allemands, qui de tout temps ont eu plus d'analogie entre eux qu'avec
les Frangais ou les Italiens. Les Espagnols connaitront la litterature Anglaise et
Espagnole15 ils y puiseront une certaine universalite de vues et surtout le conseil et
1'exemple de s'abandonner a leur propre genie.
Ce que j'ai ecrit sur la poesie et le theatre de 1'Espagne reclame 1'indulgence; Madame,
je manquais de livres et mes connaissances etaient fort imparfaites. Toutefois j'ai eu le
bonheur de contribuer a repandre en Allemagne la lecture des poetes espagnols. Si le
ciel m'accorde jamais a voir cette contree si belle et a present si devastee et
ensanglantee, si je puis me promener sous les oranges de Valence, monter a
1'Alhambra des Maures, visiter la cathedrale gothique de Tolede, ces lieux renommes
par le pelerinage, j'essayerai de mieux parler de votre nation et de sa poesie, surtout si
j'y suis encourage comme je 1'ai etc par votre lettre (Querelle, 75).
The letter reveals Schlegel's interest in Frasquita's recognition of
his work. He received the letter in Stockholm, during his period as
private secretary to Crown Prince Bernadotte. Yet, in spite of the
geographical and cultural distance, Schlegel's views of Spain and his
ideas on Romantic theory were evidently still clear in his mind. His
letter is almost a restatement of the Romantic philosophies he had
advanced ten years earlier in his essay on the Spanish theatre16 and
which had led him to proclaim Calderon as the pinnacle of Romantic
drama. Those notions are, amongst others: the concept of national
genius; the nationalist, anti-French stance; his call for literary tolerance
and the acceptance of the diversity of national cultures; his concept of
poetic enthusiasm; the inherent literary originality of the Spanish people
and the rejection of external rules and cold servile imitation. Schlegel
also restates his call for a cultural regeneration based on the revival of
each country's cultural heritage, i.e. what he refers to in the letter as 'sa
propre antiquite', as opposed to classical antiquity. Schlegel's concept of
'Naturpoesie' (with the romances of the 'poete captif') 17 also appears
here, for Schlegel, following Herder, considered popular poetry as the
origin of all poetry. Schlegel's letter, with its encomiastic appraisal of
Spain and her literature, must have been music to the ears of the
Romantic Bohls, for it reinforced in no uncertain terms their innermost
15 Pitollet points to a lapsus calami by Schlegel. The text should read 'Allemande'
16 August Wilhelm Schlegel, 'Uber das spanische Theater', Europa: Eine Zeitschnft
rFrankfurt, 1803-05; reprinted, Stuttgart: Cotta, 1963), 1, 72-87.
17 Mora had been imprisoned by the French during the War of Independence.
convictions regarding Spanish literature: its originality and the fact that
it was completely unnecessary for it to imitate other literature. But most
important, it proclaimed the need for a spiritual and cultural regeneration, something the Bohls considered was the only means to offset the
damage caused in Spain by neo-classicism, afrancesamiento, materialist
Enlightenment thinking, in short, all the evils which the Bohls felt had
infiltrated Spain through French influence.
On 14 September 1814, in the Cadiz newspaper Mercurio Gaditano, Bohl published his translation of Schlegel's 'Vienna Lectures'. It
was reprinted later under the title Sobre el teatro espanol. Extractos
traducidos del alemdn de A.W. Schlegel por un apasionado de la nation
espanola. 18 Bohl's article translated lectures number twelve (parallels
between English and Spanish drama) and number fourteen (a discussion of Spanish drama) in one article. 19 The two lectures contained
some of the most significant aspects of Romantic theory in their
relation to Spain.
Pitollet qualified Bohl's first article as 'en realite, beaucoup moins
d'une traduction que d'un resume assez arbitraire, coupe de points de
suspension frequents' (Querelle, 93) and indeed, at first sight, there is
much to agree with in his assessment. 20 The work is a highly
summarized mixture of the two lectures. However, Pitollet's criticism
of arbitrariness is not entirely justified, for it does not take sufficient
account of Bohl's model. For Bohl's article imitated Schlegel's
revolutionary method of case analysis. Schlegel's twelfth lecture
presented his theory of Romantic drama and, in scholarly fashion,
demonstrated it through a case-study of Shakespeare. Bohl's article
follows the same method but substitutes Calderon for Shakespeare, as
Shakespeare was irrelevant to him. For that reason, Bohl had to break
off in the middle of the twelfth lecture and move to the fourteenth
(Schlegel's study of Spanish drama and Calderon) and graft that study
on to the former, to produce a case analysis similar to Schlegel's.
Juretschke's criticism, however, is more justified. He discusses the
linguistic difficulties, which Bohl compounded by his insufficient
understanding of the underlying aesthetic principles of the 'Vienna
Lectures'. Bohl was a learned man, but he was treading difficult and
often unknown territory. To Juretschke, the unfamiliarity of Bohl's
audience with German aesthetics also meant that Schlegel's theories
could often sound paradoxical and obscure.
18 1 quote from the reprint in Vindicaciones de Calderon, Bohl's edition of his writings, also
extremely rare. There is a copy in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid.
19 I quote from August Wilhelm Schlegel's Sammtliche Werke, ed. Eduard Bocking (12 vols.,
Leipzig: Weidmann, 1846-47), vols. v and vi, where the lectures appear as 25 and 35
20 Bohl was to publish various articles on the subject of Romanticism, but only one other one
translates Schlegel directly, namely 'Lo que entiende Schlegel por poesia romancesca, extractado
de su obra sobre el arte y literatura dramatica, impresa en Heidelberg 1809', published in 1819,
where Bohl translates the first lecture.
Bohl's initial intentions are not difficult to assess. In his later
Pasatiempo, he wrote: 'A mi vuelta a Cadiz (1813), pense dar un
testimonio de amor a Espana y a los espanoles publicando algunas
reflexiones de aquel excelente critico'. 21 It is difficult to reject his
statement as untrue. Bohl's love of Spain is evident in most of his
writings. Moreover, whilst in Gorslow, he had become increasingly
drawn into the current of German Hispanist studies, which centred
around the revival of the Spanish comedia and the Spanish ballad.
Therefore, like Juretschke, I disagree with Guillermo Carnero's
reductive criteria, which condemn Bohl's writings as purely 'el
camuflage de sus ideas politicas' (Origenes, 58).
However, Bohl's defence of German Romantic ideas, of Calderon
and of traditional Spanish literature is intertwined (in best Romantic
fashion) with aspirations of cultural, social and even political reform.
He defended a spiritual, as much as an aesthetic, system. SchlegePs
assessment of the merits of Spain's literature, as much as his rejection
of Enlightened ideals and French Republicanism reflected Bohl's own.
Yet, as Juretschke has stated, his ardour did not aid the aesthetic
debate, but in fact confused it even more. At worst, Bohl made
Calderon into the symbol for a glorious bygone age, which Bohl
desperately wanted to return. Because of this, Juretschke concludes:
'Die erste spanische Reaktion auf die Botschaft der deutschen Romantik gewinnt so zunachst eine politische Farbung und Bedeutung'
(DuD, 162).
How far Bohl managed to transmit in his first article the message of
German Romanticism into Spain, can only be assessed by analysing
his rendition of the salient Romantic ideas contained in the lectures he
deals with. I furnish below a comparative textual analysis of some of
those significant points. Neither Bohl nor Schlegel's order is kept in
my comparison.
Schlegel begins his comparison of English and Spanish drama by
arguing that both had arisen, not from the imitation of classical
models, but from the seed of national culture. For Schlegel they had
grown as organically as Greek theatre had done before them. Bohl
omits this long section and mentions the parallel between Spain and
English only in passing, beginning by attacking the 'critico que solo
estudia los modelos antiguos' and his lack of understanding of the
peculiar originality of the Spanish comedia. Schlegel had written:
Ware die Behauptung richtig, so wurde Alles, was die Werke der vollendetsten
englischen und spanischen Dramatiker, eines Shakspeare und Calderon, unter21 'Segunda parte del Pasatiempo critico, Apendice', Vindicacwnes, 4. See also Derek Flitter's
work Romantic Traditionalism: Directions in Literary Theory and Criticism in Spain, 1814-1850,
17: 'His principal concern was the defence of Calderon and other Spanish authors against the
attacks of Classicists'. Flitter's work is shortly to be published by Cambridge University Press. I
am indebted to Dr Flitter for the loan of his typescript.
scheidet, sie blop unter die Alten herabsetzen; sie wiirden auf keine Weise fur die
Theorie wichtig sein, und konnten hochstens durch die Annahme merkwiirdig
scheinen, der Eigensinn dieser Nationen, sich durchaus nicht nach den Regeln
bequemen zu wollen, mochte den Dichtern desto unbeschrankteren Spielraum gelaflen
haben, ihre angestammte Originalitat, wiewohl gleichsam hinter dem Riicken der
Kunst, zu offenbaren. Allein selbst diese Annahme diirfte bei naherer Beleuchtung
sehr zweifelhaft werden. Der dichterische Geist bedarf allerdings einer Umgranzung,
urn sich innerhalb derselben mit schoner Freiheit zu bewegen, wie es alle Volker
schon bei der ersten Erfindung des Silbenmafies gefuhlt haben; er rnufi nach
Gesetzen, die aus seinem eignen Wesen herfliefien, wirken (vi. 156-7).
Bohl summarizes thus:
Es muy natural que los criticos que solo estudian los modelos antiguos, menosprecien
el teatro ingles y el espanol. Admiraran quizas algunos de sus rasgos brillantes, pero
no por eso dejara de parecerles barbara y absurda la economia del conjunto. En vano
procuraran reducir a sus reglas estas creaciones originales, y mas bien las condenaran
por hereticas, que poner en duda la infalibilidad de Aristoteles. Muy lejos estamos de
querer quitar toda traba a la fantasia del poeta; el ritmo, companero inseparable del
verso, es tambien el primer simbolo de una sujecion (1-2).
Heavily reduced, the text sounds much more polemical, as through
the use of hereticas' and the mention of Aristotle, which Schlegel had
avoided. Furthermore, it plays down the importance of metre, in
Schlegelian theory one of the three main components of 'Naturpoesie'. 22 Schlegel's revolutionary statement that the creative spirit would
move more freely within boundaries arising from its own nature is
avoided. Bohl, instead, offers a generalization.
Schlegel pre-empts the charge of formlessness by redefining the
term. He writes:
Formlos zu sein darf also den Werken des Genius auf keine Weise gestattet werden
[. . .] Um dem Vorwurfe der Formlosigkeit zu begegnen, verstandige man sich nur
iiber den Begriff der Form, der von den Meisten, namentlich von jenen Kunstrichtern, welche vor Allem auf steife Regelmapigkeit dringen, nur mechanisch, und
nicht, wie er sollte, organisch gefafk wird. Mechanisch ist die Form, wenn sie durch
au(3re Einwirkung irgend einem Stoffe blop als zufallige Zuthat, ohne Beziehung auf
dessen Beschaffenheit ertheilt wird, wie man z. B. einer weichen Masse eine beliebige
Gestalt giebt, damit sie solche nach der Erhartung beibehalte. Die organische Form
hingegen ist eingeboren, sie bildet von innen heraus, und erreicht ihre Bestimmtheit
zugleich mit der vollstandigen Entwickelung des Keimes. Solche Formen entdecken
wir in der Natur uberall [. . .] von der Krystallisation der Salze und Mineralien an bis
zur Pflanze und Blume und von dieser bis zur menschlichen Gesichtsbildung hinauf.
Auch in der schonen Kunst, wie im Gebiete der Natur, der hochsten Kunstlerin, sind
alle achten Formen organisch, d.h. durch den Gehalt des Kunstwerkes bestimmt. Mit
Einem Worte, die Form ist nichts anders, als ein bedeutsames Aeufires die sprechende,
durch keine storenden Zufalligkeiten entstellte Physiognomic jedes Dinges, die von
dessen verborgnem Wesen ein wahrhaftes Zeugnip ablegt (vi. 157-8).
22 See Ralph W. Ewton, The Literary Theories of August Wilhelm Schlegel (De proprietatibus
litterarum, series practica, Paris, The Hague: Mouton, 1972), 37.
Bohl summarizes again:
Exigiremos, pues, de toda produccion poetica una forma determinada, pero esta forma
no debera ser mecdnica (como lo entienden los sectarios de las tres unidades) sino
orgdnica. Llamamos/onmz mecdnica la que se labra con moldes, y forma orgdnica la que
es innata. De esta clase son las formas que nos ofrece la naturaleza desde la
cristalizacion de las sales hasta la figura humana, y que se pueden llamar fisionomias
expresivas, que nos revelan las cualidades ocultas de todas las cosas (2).
In more polemical tone, Bohl synthesizes Schlegel's explanation of the
terms 'organisch'/'mechanisch', and offers an example. Schlegel's
revolutionary application of scientific terms to poetry must have
perplexed Bohl's audience. Juretschke has also criticized Bohl's
significant omission of Schlegel's concept of nature as 'die hochste
Kiinstlerin' for it was a central idea in Romantic theory. Schlegel's
concept of 'Physiognomic' conceptualized the idea of organism as a
unified whole whose outer form reflects its inner essence; the outer
form of 'Poesie' was determined by the whole itself, thus intertwining
form and content. Each thing was a symbol for itself; each object had
an exterior which reflects its inner essence. 23 Bohl renders this concept
as 'fisionomias expresivas', which is an acceptable version, though
much impoverished.
Schlegel continues to discuss that 'poetic essence', that 'verborgenes Wesen' of art and poetry moving through the ages, reappearing
each time with a different outer form. He writes: 'Hieraus leuchtet ein,
dafi der unvergangliche, aber gleichsam durch verschiedne Korper
wandernde Geist der Poesie, so oft er sich im Menschengeschlechte
neu gebiert, aus den Nahrungsstoffen eines veranderten Zeitalters sich
auch einen anders gestalteten Leib zubilden murV (vi. 158). Bohl's
contracted version sounds much more categorical. He writes: 'La
poesia, semejante a la metemsicosis [sic], renace en distintos tiempos
en cada pueblo y en cada idioma; pero forma su cuerpo de los
elementos que cada vez la rodean' (2).
As Bohl was not following Schlegel's comparison of the drama of
Spain and England, he omits Schlegel's theory that an essential
kinship existed between England and Spain, which was the spirit of
Romantic poetry; their formal difference, however, was the different
nature of their imagination: the English had a gloomy ('ahndungsvoll')
imagination, whilst the Spaniards' was glowing ('gliihend').
Schlegel characterizes Romantic art and poetry, which mix the
genres, by contrasting them with Classical art, which separated them.
In a passage reminiscent of Friedrich Schlegel's famous Athenaeumsfragment 116, A.W. Schlegel writes:
" See Kntische Fnednch-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler et al. (Munich, Paderborn,
Vienna, Zurich: Schoningh, 1958 - in progress), ii. 319.
Die antike Kunst und Poesie geht auf strenge Sonderung des Ungleichartigen, die
romantische gefallt sich in unaufloslichen Mischungen; alle Entgegengesetzten, Natur
und Kunst, Poesie und Prosa, Ernst und Scherz, Erinnerung und Ahndung,
Geistigkeit und Sinnlichkeit, das Irdische und Gottliche, Leben und Tod, verschmilzt
sie auf das innigste mit einander (vi. 161).
Bohl renders the passage thus:
El arte antiguo separaba con severidad todas las especies; el arte moderno pretende
combinar todos los opuestos, y asi se complace en amalgamar la naturaleza y la
compostura, la poesia y la prosa, la memoria y la esperanza, el alma y los sentidos, lo
terrestre y lo divino, la vida y la muerte (2).
This is an important concept. For Schlegel modern civilization was a
product of the fusion of various components, with amongst them
northern traits and fragments of antiquity. Greek civilization had been
more homogeneous. Schlegel, therefore, proposed that Romantic art
should thus delight in the union of different elements. Furthermore,
the Greeks had delighted in the perfection of human powers; their art
was more sensual and worldly. In the modern era, however,
Christianity had introduced an element of dissatisfaction into life. But,
because modern civilization still bore traces of Hellenic thought,
Romantic art should incorporate elements from it, mixing them with
those which were inherently Romantic: 'Geistigkeit und Sinnlichkeit,
das Irdische und Gottliche, Ernst und Scherz'. Bohl was familiar with
the writings in Athenaeum and would therefore understand Schlegel's
propositions. But he was dealing here with theories which deserved
interpretation for an uninitiated audience (or full translation). Thus, it
is not surprising that these utterances elicited sardonic criticism from
Mora, who replied: 'Llamele como quiera, este genero es menester
que sea detestable, puesto que, segun Ud. mismo, pretende combinar
todos los opuestos; combination absurda en las artes de imitation, en
las que no debe haber opuestos sino contrastes' (Querelle, 95).
Again, contrasting classical with modern art, Schlegel had
so ist die gesammte alte Poesie und Kunst gleichsam ein rhythmischer Nomos, eine
harmonische Verkiindigung der auf immer festgestellten Gesetzgebung einer schon
geordneten und die ewigen Urbilder der Dinge in sich abspiegelnden Welt. Die
romantische hingegen ist' der Ausdruck des geheimen Zuges zu dem immerfort nach
neuen und wundervollen Geburten ringenden Chaos, welches unter der geordneten
Schopfung, ja in ihrem Schoofie sich verbirgt (vi. 161).
For Schlegel, ancient art could produce perfected works of art,
whereas Romantic art delighted in chaos. The term 'chaos' appeared
often in Romantic writings. Friedrich Schlegel had written: 'Denn das
ist der Anfang aller Poesie, den Gang und die Gesetze der verniinftig
denkenden Vernunft aufzuheben und uns wieder in die schone
Verwirrung der Fantasie, in das urspriingliche Chaos der mensch-
lichen Natur zu versetzen . . . ' 'Chaos' was meant to denote the chaos
of genesis, prior to the emergence of consciousness, the infinite variety
of forms underlying God's creation. Romantic poetry should express
the poet's attraction to that creative chaos. Thus Romantic art, though
apparently fragmentary, could offer a key to the secrets of the
It is not difficult to imagine that these revolutionary and abstract
notions, coming as they did into a culture still firmly based on an
Aristotelian world-view, could sound preposterous. The difficulty of
this passage leads Bohl into a trap when he translates: 'El arte antiguo
es mas sencillo, mas claro y coincide mas con la naturaleza en sus obras
aisladas; el arte moderno se acerca mas al secreto del universe, aunque
a veces no ofrece mas que un caos' (my italics) (3). Bohl's clumsy attempt
to reflect Schlegel's idea of the creative chaos made Schlegel's text
sound incoherent and elicited Mora's bitter sarcasm: 'Una friolera! El
secreto del universo estaba reservado al sublime descubrimiento del
drama sin reglas . . . Es verdad que despues se nos asegura que a veces
el arte moderno no nos ofrece mas que un caos; pero Schlegel y sus
elegantes traductores sacaran de este caos la luz'. This kind of
disparaging comment from Mora against Schlegel and Bohl illustrates
the tone of the entire polemic, for during it Mora often referred to
Schlegel as the author of 'paradoxas germanicas'.
Schlegel's revolutionary comparison of Greek tragedy with
sculpture and Romantic drama with painting was one of the high
points of the lectures. In sculpture the eyes of the beholder are
attracted to one isolated group, whereas painting presents the entire
scene, with surrounding minor details and perspective. Romantic art
should likewise offer a mirror to the universe in its rich variety. In
drama, Schlegel writes:
verglichen wir die antike Tragodie mil einer Gruppe in der Skulptur, die Figuren
entsprechen dem Charakter, ihre Gruppierung der Handlung [. . .] Das romantische
Drama denke man sich hingegen als ein grofies Gemalde, wo aufier der Gestalt und
Bewegung in reicheren Gruppen auch noch die Umgebung der Personen mitabgebildet ist, nicht blof* die nachste, sondern ein bedeutender Ausblick in die Feme (vi.
Here Bohl encounters new difficulties with the technical terms used by
Schlegel. Juretschke points out that Bohl could have borrowed from
the French translation, where Mme Necker de Saussure utilizes the
terms 'genie statuaire'/'genie pittoresque'. 24 Yet, Bohl omits the
reference to Classical art as 'plastic' and, unsure of his ground,
paraphrases Schlegel's categories as: 'El drama romancesco es un
24 Juretschke also states: 'Mit dem Verzicht auf diesen Vergleich hat sich Bohl von vornherein
eines Argumentes begeben, das in anderen Landern viel zur Aufnahme der Ideen Schlegels
beigetragen hat'. See DuD, 156, and 'Presencia', 14.
cuadro, en el cual ademas del colorido brillante de las figuras, se ven
los derredores y los lejos' (3). Whilst Schlegel continues at length to
illustrate his argument, and then moves to the study of Shakespeare,
Bohl breaks to translate the lecture on Spanish drama.
The fourteenth lecture was a reworking of Schlegel's aforementioned
essay of 1803, which had arisen from his translations of five of
Calderon's plays. The text of the lecture was meant to be provisional,
but, in fact, was never expanded. Schlegel himself was aware of the
text's shortcomings, as his preface to the second edition and his letter
to Frasquita demonstrate. Bohl begins translating from the middle
section which studied the origins of Spanish literature, in order to
keep the historical approach Schlegel had utilized. However, he does
not respect the economy of Schlegel's work, for he leaps from one
section of the lecture to another, sometimes lifting single sentences
from a passage as he sees fit, in order to construct his apology of the
Schlegel's lecture on the Spanish theatre contains some very
important Romantic ideas. It introduces the notion of a medieval
mythology, to be found in the romances of chivalry with their
characteristic motifs: love, honour, religious feeling, and heroism.
This new mythology, wrote Schlegel, underpins modern culture and,
therefore, should become the source of modern (Romantic) poetry and
art. In a passage heavily overlaid with Herderian echoes, Schlegel
presented a socio-historical interpretation of Spain's past, and adduced
that Spain's poetic enthusiasm had grown hand in hand with the fame
of her heroic deeds, aided by the proud awareness of her people. Spain
had played a glorious role in history, defending Europe's frontiers
from Moorish invasions in the 'Reconquista', an episode which
Schlegel defined as 'ein einziges langes Abenteuer'. He wrote:
Mit dem Thatenruhm dieses [. . .] so freien Heldenvolkes wuchs auch der Strom der
dichterischen Begeisterung, angeschwellt von einem stolzen Bewufitsein. Die Spanier
spielen in der Geschichte des Mittelalters eine glorreiche Rolle, welche der neidische
Undank der neueren Zeit allzu sehr vergefien hat. Als eine verlorne Vorwacht des
bedrohten Europa gegen die Einbriiche der Alles uberschwemmenden Araber, lagen
sie auf ihrer pyrenaischen Halbinsel wie im Felde, ohne fremden Beistand, zu immer
erneuerten Kampfen bereit. Die Grundung ihrer christlichen Konigreiche, Jahrhunderte hindurch [. . .] war ein einziges langes Abenteuer; ja die Rettung des
Christenthums in diesem Lande gegen solche Uebermacht schien das Wunderwerk
einer hoheren als blofi menschlichen Lenkung zu sein (vi. 389-90).
It is perhaps not surprising that Bohl, though intensifying the Catholic
element, translated all the main ideas of this passage; for the patriotic
ring of Schlegel's text fitly conveyed his own feelings. Bohl also often
applies his own knowledge of Spanish literature, and for example
here, he adds the name of Pelagius, the first Visigothic king, not
mentioned by Schlegel:
Al par de las hazanas de esta nacion heroica, crecio el nervio de su poesia. Los
espanoles ban hecho un papel en la historia, que la mezquina envidia de los tiempos
modernos se ha esmerado en oscurecer. Haciendo de vanguardia de la Euro pa contra
la irruption de los fieros musulmanes, no cesaban de oponerles una barrera viva, de
continue renovada. La fundacion de sus reynos, desde Pelayo hasta la conquista de
Granada, fue una sola aventura caballeresca . . . Y debemos confesar que la religion de
Jesucristo, triunfante de tan grande superioridad de enemigos, es cosa prodigiosa (4).
Schlegel, however, would not have discussed Spain's past without
a reference to the Habsburg age, for it had left an ominous memory in
the minds of Europeans. In Germany the 'leyenda negra' had recently
been evoked by Goethe and Schiller in their respective plays Egmont
and Don Carlos. Schlegel's condemnation of this era is uncompromising. He describes Philip II's policies as 'arglistig' and 'tyrannisch'.
Bohl, however, omits this long passage. Of all the distortions which
Bohl was to perpetrate on Schlegel's text this was the most grievous,
for, coming as it did at the time of the restoration of the Bourbon
monarchy, with a particularly repressive regime, Bohl's tacit endorsement of the Habsburg kings could effectively place Schlegel's name in
the middle of a virulent political controversy, and so in a very
questionable position indeed. Schlegel stated that the chivalric spirit of
tie Middle Ages had remained imprinted on the Spanish character as
on no other nation, and had resulted in the subsequent flowering of
Spain's literature:
Nirgends hat der ritterliche Geist die politische Existenz des Ritterthums langer
iiberlebt als in Spanien. Noch lange nachdem durch Philipps des Zweiten verderbliche
Fehltritte das innere Wohlsein zugleich mit dem auswartigen Einflupe tief gesunken
war, pflanzte sich dieser Geist bis in die bliihende Periode ihrer Litteratur fort, und
driickte ihr unverkennbar sein Geprage auf. Hier erneuerte sich bei weit hoherer
Geistesbildung in gewissem Grade jene glanzende Erscheinung des Mittelalters, wo
Fursten und Herrn die Kunst des Minne- und Helden-Gesanges iibten, wo die Ritter,
ihre Geliebte neben der Andacht zum heiligen Grabe im Herzen, freudig auf die
gefahrlichsten Abentheuer zum gelobten Lande wallfahrteten, wo selbst ein lowenherziger Konig die zartliche Laute zu Liebesklagen ruhrte (vi. 391).
This Bohl, again avoiding Schlegel's critical reference to Philip II,
renders thus:
Solo en Espana ha sobrevivido el espiritu caballeresco a la caida de la misma
caballeria. Cuando en el tiempo de Felipe II descrecian juntamente la prosperidad
interior y el influjo exterior de la nacion, este espiritu renacio en la literatura y
reprodujo en alguna manera aquella edad en que los reyes y los principes eran
trovadores, y en que los caballeros veneraban con igual entusiasmo el Santo Sepulcro y
a su dama (5).
Schlegel was carefully creating a theory of the organic development of Spanish literature: from primitive and simple forms to
mature, highly artistic ones, aided by improved intellectual development. He thus states that Romantic poetry, a natural concomitant of
the commingling in Spain of all the cultural elements, was to have its
highest expression there:
Wenn Religionsgefiihl, biedrer Heldenmuth, Ehre und Liebe die Grundlagen der
romantischen Poesie sind, so mu(3te sie in Spanien, unter solchen Auspicien geboren
und herangewachsen, wohl den hochsten Schwung nehmen. Die Phantasie der
Spanier war kiihn wie ihre Thatkraft, kein geistiges Abenteuer schien ihr zu
gefahrlich. Schon friiher hatte sich in den Ritterromanen die Vorliebe des Volkes fur
das ausschweifendste Wunderbare kund gegeben. Diefi wollten sie auf der Biihne
wieder sehen, und da nun ihre Dichter, ganz auf der Hohe der kiinstlerischen und
geselligen Bildung stehend, es darnach umschufen, ihm eine musikalische Seele
einhauchten, es ganz von grober Korperlichkeit gereinigt zu Farbe und Duft hinauf
lauterten, so entsteht eben aus dem Kontrast des Stoffes und der Form ein
unwiderstehlicher Reiz (vi. 392-3).
Bohl's translation of 'romantisch' as 'moderna' is significant and
demonstrated his clear understanding of Schlegel's categories. He
Si la poesia moderna se funda sobre los sentimientos religiosos, sobre el heroismo, el
honor y el amor, en Espana precisamente habia de adquirir su mas aha perfection
nacida y desarrollada bajo esos auspicios. Ninguna hazaria del entendimiento arredraba
la imagination espanola, no menos arrojada que lo eran sus paladines. Su predilection
hacia lo maravilloso se habia ya manifestado en sus libros de caballeria. Faltabale a su
teatro alguna cosa semejante, y cuando los grandes poetas de aquel tiempo, adornados
con todas las galas de la mas noble civilization, trasladaron a la escena el caracter
caballeresco purificado de toda liga material, y sublimado hasta la semejanza aerea de un
perfume matizado (si se nos permite la expresion), el espectador quedo contento (5-6).
However, Bohl's rendering of the final part of this passage, of some
difficulty for him as an untrained translator, attracted some of the
severest criticism from Mora. For his translation of 'es ganz von
grober Korperlichkeit gereinigt zu Farbe und Duft hinauf lauterten' as
'y sublimado hasta la semejanza aerea de un perfume matizado', even
in the presence of his rider 'si se nos permite la expresion', was to
shock his critics, who condemned it as 'expresion absurdamente
ridicula' and used the phrase 'perfume matizado' in their writings as a
sample of the kind of metaphysical nonsense which Schlegel had
written about their theatre.
Schlegel also discusses Spain's main dramatists, though in a
rather unrepresentative fashion, for he overvalues Calderon, at the
expense of Lope. Cervantes receives a more objective appraisal.
Schlegel writes:
Wenn es bei dem Bisherigen, namlich den Werken des Lope und seiner vorziiglicheren Zeitgenofien [. . .] ein Bewenden gehabt hatte, so mufite man an dem
spanischen Theater mehr den grofien Entwurf und die versprechenden Anlagen, als
die reife Vollendung loben. Aber nun trat Don Pedro Calderon de la Barca auf, ein
eben so fruchtbarer Kopf [. . .] ein Dichter, wenn je einer den Namen verdient hat
[. . .] Ich weifi keinen Dramatiker, der den Effekt so zu poetisieren gewufit hatte, der
zugleich so sinnlich kraftig und so atherisch ware (vi. 384, 386).
Which Bohl translates, again paraphrasing, as:
Si el teatro espanol hubiese parado en esto, celebrariamos mas bien lo que prometia
que lo que cumpliera, pero vino Calderon, que con tanto ingenio y no menos facundia
que Lope, tenia mas dotes de poeta y mas inteligencia del arte dramatico. Todos sus
dramas manifiestan una perfecta correspondencia entre los medios y fines, y la mas
acabada maestria en los efectos escenicos (7).
It is difficult to understand why Bohl omits the sentence which
declares Calderon the poet most deserving of that title, though his
omission of Schlegel's classification of Calderon's plays is more
understandable. The best historical plays, says Schlegel, are those set
in Spain, for Calderon's imagination was too eminently Spanish to
identify with the history of another nation. Schlegel wrote that
Calderon had taken the representation of Classical themes: 'daher ganz
phantastisch genommen, wie ihm iiberhaupt die griechische Mythologie ein liebliches Marchen und die romische Geschichte eine majestatische Hyperbel ist' (vi. 386). Bohl follows him closely: 'Los historicos
(exceptuando los que tratan de la historia nacional) no satisfacen tanto,
porque Calderon era demasiado espanol para identificarse con una
invididualidad agena. Asi para el, la mitologia griega es un juego
fantastico y la historia romana una hiperbole majestuosa' (7).
Schlegel continues to explain that Calderon's spirit is most
distinctly expressed in his religious dramas. Love, says Schlegel, is
only painted in broad terms, for Calderon's real love is religion. He
Sein Gemiith aber spricht sich am meisten in der Behandlung der religiosen
Gegenstande aus. Die Liebe schildert er nur mit allgemeinen Ziigen, er redet ihre
dichterische Kunstsprache. Die Religion ist seine eigentliche Liebe, das Herz seines
Herzens. Nur fur sie erregt er die erschiitterndsten bis in die innerste Seele
dringenden Riihrungen. Bei blofi weltlichen Begebenheiten scheint er diefi vielmehr
nicht gewollt zu haben. Sie sind ihm, wie triibe sie auch an sich sein mogen, schon
durch die religiose Ansicht bis zur Klarheit aufgehellt. Dieser Gliickselige hat sich aus
der labyrinthischen Wildnifi der Zweifel in die Burgfreiheit des Glaubens gerettet,
von wo aus er die Sturme des Weltlaufs mit ungestorter Seelenruhe ansieht und
schildert; ihm ist das menschliche Dasein kein dustres Ratsel mehr. Selbst seine
Thranen, wie die im Sonnenglanz blitzenden Thautropfen an einer Blume, spiegeln
den Himmel in sich ab (vi. 397).
Bohl renders this passage, much reduced, as:
Pero sus composiciones religiosas o autos, son las que mas lo caracterizan. Fuerte en
su fe, contempla sin turbarse las revoluciones humanas; para el la suerte del hombre
no es ya un enigma. Hasta sus lagrimas reflejan la imagen del cielo, como el rocio
recogido en el caliz de una flor (8).
Schlegel continues:
Seine Poesie, was auch scheinbar ihr Gegenstand sein moge, ist ein unermudlicher
Jubel-Hymnus auf die Herrlichkeiten der Schopfung; darum feiert er mit immer
neuem freudigem Erstaunen die Erzeugnisse der Natur und der menschlichen Kunst,
als erblickte er sie eben zum ersten Male in noch unabgenutzter Festpracht (vi. 397).
Again, intensifying the religious element through the use of 'Criador'
instead of 'Creation', Bohl renders the passage as 'Su poesia, sea cual
fuere su objeto, es un himno continuado a la gloria del Criador. Asi es
que no se cansa de celebrar las bellezas de la naturaleza y del arte' (8).
The exchange then develops thus:
[Schlegel]: Es ist Adams erstes Erwachen, gepaart mit einer Beredsamkeit und
Gewandtheit des Ausdrucks, mit einer Durchdringung der geheimsten Naturbeziehungen, wie nur hohe Geistesbildung und reife Beschaulichkeit sie verschaffen
kann (vi. 397).
[Bohl]: Es el despertar de Adan, pero acompanado de una penetration de las
relaciones mas secretas de la naturaleza, cual solo podria darla una contemplation
ejercitada (8). 25
[Schlegel]: Wenn er das Entfernteste, das Grofite und Kleinste, Sterne und Blumen
zusammenstellt, so ist der Sinn aller seiner Metaphern der gegenseitige Zug der
erschaffnen Dinge zu einander wegen ihres gemeinschaftlichen Ursprungs, und diese
entziickende Harmonic und Eintracht des Weltalls ist ihm wieder nur ein Widerschein der ewigen Alles umfassenden Liebe (vi. 397).
[Bohl]: Cuando juntaba las cosas mas distantes y mas opuestas, las mas grandes y las
mas pequenas, las estrellas y las flores, el sol y lo ojos, las perlas y las lagrimas, no veia
en ellas sino las hijas de una misma madre, que debian bajo este supuesto, simpatizar
entre si; y toda esta armonia encantadora de la creation, no era para el mas que una
sombra del amor eterno que abrasa el gran todo (8).
25 This seems to be a suitable place to clear up the general misconception by which some
Hispanist critics discard Bohl's particular form of Romanticism for not representing the new
'Weltanschauung'. Bohl was reflecting in his writings the views of the German 'Friihromantiker'.
They had also experienced the Romantic 'Angst' which to some modern critics is the
indispensable hallmark of Romanticism. Tieck's William Lovell, Novalis' Hymnen an die Nacht,
Friedrich Schlegel's Uber die Franzosische Revolution, Fichte's supremely subjectivist work
Wissenschafislehre, all reflect in some way the loss of a point of gravity, a disillusion with rationalist
thinking, a longing for the infinite. Indeed, as we have seen, Bohl himself experienced that inner
disintegration, and desperately sought wholeness. But it is the response to that intense feeling
which sets Romantic writers into different categories. The 'Vienna Lectures' were the product of a
second stage in German Romanticism, when, after the initial shock-encounter with their inner
void, the strategy of the 'Fruhromantiker' had been to resolve the conflict through art and religion.
In their adoption of an artistic posture to life, their model became the poet who for them most
successfully represented the mingling of religion and art, namely Calderon. The passages just
quoted are an example of the redemptive quality of German Romantic theory, where the chaos of
the world and the inner self find their resolution through art and religion. By the time the 'Vienna
Lectures' were given, Romantic strategy for re-integration had been encoded in terms such as
'Chaos', 'poetic enthusiasm', 'new mythology'. German Romanticism intended to 'synthesize' all
conflicting aspects of life: reality and imagination, belief and unbelief, life and death, and thus to
resolve the conflict. The Romanticism of Espronceda, the Duque de Rivas and Larra, to quote but
three Spanish writers, was more akin to the 'rebellion' of Sturm und Drang, which, by the time
A.W. Schlegel was writing the 'Vienna Lectures', had been digested and absorbed into a more
positive system (although there were also to remain some adepts to that darker side of
Romanticism, which German criticism refers to as 'die Kehrseite der Romantik', in authors such
as Bonaventura, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Clemens Brentano, again to quote only three).
Again, at this stage, Bohl leaps through the text, to arrive at the
section where Schlegel discusses the decline of Spain's theatre in the
eighteenth century; this gives Bohl ample ammunition to attack the
'apostates' of the Spanish tradition. Schlegel writes: 'Diejenigen
Spanier, welche dem alten National-Geschmack abtriinnig geworden
sind, machen viel Wesens von den prosaischen und moralischen
Dramen des Moratin: allein wir finden keinen Grund, in Spanien zu
suchen was wir zu Hause eben so gut, oder richtiger gesprochen, eben
so schlecht haben konnen' (vi. 398). 26 Bohl translates: 'Los espanoles
que han abandonado su genero nacional hacen mucho caso de los
dramas naturales de Moratin. Pero las demas naciones no tienen que
envidiarles unas composiciones sin poesia, tan comunes entre todas
ellas' (8-9).
Schlegel decries Spain's inexplicable desire to take up what in
other countries has been taken for advancement, defining certain
cultural currents (the Enlightenment) as 'epidemics', against which
nations have to become inoculated by exposure to them. Bohl
suppresses Schlegel's critical reference to clerical censorship and
concludes by repeating the notion, familiar to us from Schlegel's
letter, that Spain had 'slept' through the eighteenth century. 27 Bohl,
understandably in a passage which attacks neo-classicism, remains
fairly close to the text:
[Schlegel]: Wenn sich in einem Lande aufiere Umstande, z.B. der Einflufi der
Geistlichkeit, Censur-Zwang, selbst die eifersiichtige Wachsamkeit des Volkes auf die
Beibehaltung der alten Sitten, der freien Einfuhrung dessen widersetzen was in
benachbarten Landern fur einen Fortschritt in der Geistesbildung gilt, so geschieht es
oft, dafi die befieren Kopfe nach den verbotnen Frtichten ungebiihrlich liistern
werden, und etwas Verkehrtes erst dann recht zu bewundern anfangen, wenn es
anderswo schon wieder aus der Mode gekommen ist (vi. 399).
[Bohl]: Cuando las circunstancias exteriores, sea una censura arbitraria, o sea el
mismo apego de la mayor parte de los habitantes de un pais a sus habitos nacionales, se
oponen a la introduction de lo que se califica de progreso del entendimiento humano
entre los vecinos, sucede que las buenas cabezas se prendan de aquellos frutos
prohibidos, y se empenan con tenacidad en ciertos errores literarios, al tiempo que ya
no son moda en otras partes (9).
[Schlegel]: Gewisse Geisteskrankheiten sind so epidemisch in einem Zeitaker, daft
eine Nation niemals vor einem Anfalle davon sicher ist, bis man sie ihr inokuliert hat.
26 This passage is evidence that Schlegel was up to date with the literary debates in Spain.
27 This constitutes further proof of Schlegel's insufficient knowledge of the history of Spain,
still informed by his Enlightened education. For Spain had participated to a certain extent in the
Enlightenment, especially under Charles III, and had been undergoing economic, industrial,
and social reforms. The reforms also touched the religious sphere. Under Aranda, the minister to
Charles III, the Jesuits were expelled for opposing certain political reforms. However, Schlegel
could be forgiven for thinking the way he did, for the conservative lobby in Spain which opposed
reform was much stronger than elsewhere. The Church still exercised very strong power,
especially over the uneducated masses, who were still being exhorted by the clergy to oppose and
reject change. The Enlightened regime had also banned Calderon's autos sacramentalfs as being
pernicious and sacrilegious. The comedia could only be staged in neo-classical recastings.
Indessen sind die Spanier, wie es scheint, in Absicht auf die leidige Aufklarung des
letzten Geschlechts mit den Windpocken abgekommen, wahrend die entstellenden
Blattergruben in den Ziigen andrer Nationen nicht zu verkennen sind (vi. 399). 28
[Bohl]: Hay enfermedades del entendimiento tan epidemicas, que no se puede librar
de ellas una nation, sino por la inoculation. Tal es la filosofia moderna. Los espanoles
parecen haberse libertado con solo unas viruelas volantes o locas, mientras que las
senales de una irruption maligna desfiguran las fisonomias de las demas naciones (9).
[Schlegel]: In ihrer etwas insularischen Existenz haben sie das achtzehnte Jahrhundert
verschlafen, und wie konnte man im Grunde seine Zeit befler anwenden? [. . .] Was
sie bis jetzt aus angeborner Neigung geliebt, miifiten die Spanier mit klarer
Erkenntnifi verehren lernen, und, unbekiimmert um die dazwischen aufgekommene
Kritik, aus Grundsatz im Geist ihrer grofien Dichter zu schaffen fortfahren (vi. 399).
[Bohl]: En su existencia peninsular han pasado en modorra el siglo XVIII; y en efecto,
ique mejor podian haber hecho? Si la poesia espanola despierta algiin dia, sea en
Europa, sea en las Indias, no hay duda que solo un paso tendra que dar desde el
instinto ciego al conocimiento meditado. Los espanoles admiraran entonces por
convencimiento lo que han amado hasta aqui por inclination; y sin hacer caso de la
critica bastarda del siglo filosofico, pondran todo su conato en componer en el mismo
sentido que los grandes modelos de su siglo de oro (9-10).
It is easy to understand that Bohl should have translated this final
passage almost in its entirety, for it strongly attacked neo-classicism in
Spain. Again, however, Bohl intensifies Schlegel's tone by the translation of 'die dazwischen aufgekommene Kritik' as 'critica bastarda', a
line with which he concludes the translation.
An assessment of Bohl's translation of Schlegel's lectures would have
to condemn various aspects, not least his translating technique.
Although the article did not claim to be a full version of the original, it
did purport to be a translation (and not a paraphrase) of Schlegel's
work. Bohl had sub-titled his article 'Extractos traducidos del aleman
de A.W. Schlegel'. The Spanish reader was left with no reason to
doubt that he was reading Schlegel's work in translation, if summarized. For the translator, the charge of inaccuracy is a serious one. The
haphazard and hasty treatment Bohl gave to Schlegel's text cannot be
excused. Similarly inexcusable is his omission of points of ideology
which were of political significance in Spain as in the rest of Europe,
such as the contemporary revaluation of the Habsburg dynasty. As a
German, Schlegel was offering his own contribution to the 'leyenda
negra' debate! Bohl had no right to amend his text for ideological
reasons. His good intentions to propagate German ideology were
marred by his inability to remain faithful to the text when relaying it to
a Spanish audience. His penchant for summarizing is, perhaps, less
28 Cf. Friedrich Schlegel's similar phraseology in his Gesprach iiber die Poesie, Kritische
Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, ii. 209-10.
serious, though sometimes it renders the text unintelligible. He also
escalated the polemical tone, thus souring the literary debate.
However, on a positive note, it is impossible not to acknowledge
the vision which Bohl's personal introduction to Spain of the most
up-to-date aesthetic thinking in Europe implied. In this context, the
assessment by various Hispanists of Bohl as 'retrograde' loses its force.
Bohl was bringing into Spain the body of thought of one of the most
visionary group of thinkers. Schlegel had used Kantian and Fichtean
philosophies, combined them with art history and thereby arrived at a
new system of art criticism. His method was 'state of the art'
aesthetics. That was the reason why Bohl could never reconcile in his
own mind why in Spain the pseudo-classicists were still hanging on to
their outmoded criteria and stubbornly following Luzan (the Spanish
Gottsched) and his unimaginative poetics.
Bohl was aware of the huge European success of the 'Vienna
Lectures', but he also felt somehow personally involved in the
adventure. Whilst on Spanish soil, he had learned to love the great
Spanish tradition which Schlegel was apotheosizing in them. In
Germany, he also followed the development of the Romantic group
and read their writings with keen interest. His natural wish to
participate in the dissemination of those ideas, so akin to his own,
cannot lightly be dismissed as spurious. He felt himself to be the right
person at the right time to bring to Spain the good news that Calderon
was once again in his rightful place of honour. His method was
questionable, too polemical and biased, but his modest article conveyed the essential message of 'Fruhromantik'. His translation did
communicate to the Spanish public that, in Germany, a man named
August Wilhelm Schlegel was redefining the canons of art criticism;
that the doctrines of 'the neo-classical rules' did not have to apply to
modern literature, for the work of art had rules of its own, set by the
creative artist; that these were organic forms, likely to differ according
to time and place; that modern art should mix the genres; that Spain
was unique in her artistic originality; that religion was important in the
development of culture; that literature had to arise from the national
character and the national cultural traditions; and, last but not least,
that Calderon had been elevated to the pinnacle of artistic merit and
Spain could again look Europe in the face, and cease denigrating her
'irregular' dramatists. Indeed, Bohl's efforts bore fruit, for very soon
other Romantic writers followed him, first in Barcelona, with the
group who published the journal with that most Romantic name El
Europeo,29 and later in Madrid, with Agustin Duran,30 whose Discurso
of 1828 is now considered the first manifesto of Spanish Romanticism.
29 See J.L. Alborg, Histona de la literatura espanola, 4: El romanticism) (Madrid: Credos,
1980), 90.
30 D.T. Gies has discussed Duran's debt to the German Romantics in his Agustin Durdn: A
Biography and Literary Appreciation (London: Tamesis, 1975), 57ff. Flitter's Romantic Traditionalism conclusively demonstrates also the long-lasting effect of Bohl's Schlegelian writings.
Bohl often attempted to obtain the kind of acknowledgement
which once Frasquita had attracted from Schlegel, but to no avail.
Though Cadiz had remained fresh in Schlegel's memory (boasting
about the fame the lectures had given him, he once wrote: 'das
literarische Europa weifi es von Cadiz bis Edinburg'),31 yet he never
addressed the Bohls again. It is perhaps not difficult to agree with
previous students of the Querelle that the polemical tone Bohl had
given to Schlegel's lectures went far to discourage Schlegel from
acknowledging his efforts, a fact which Bohl was to lament for a long
time to come.
31 Cited by Paulin, Ludvng Tieck, 377, n.86.

Similar documents