August Wilhelm Schlegel

August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845)

August Wilhelm Schlegel, the brother of Friedrich Schlegel, was a linguistic philosopher and a translator of William Shakespeare’s works into German.

Between 1794 and 1796, A. W. Schlegel contributed to Schiller’s journal Die Horen.

Between 1797 and 1800 he edited the Romantic periodical the Athenaeum together with his brother Friedrich.

He married Caroline Böhmer in 1796 and divorced her in 1803. In 1808 he fell in love with Madame De Staël, this was not reciprocated. After her death in 1817 he married Sophie Paulus, the daughter of a professor in Heidelberg.

In Bonn in 1819-20 he taught German literature to the young Heinrich Heine.

Along with his brother Friedrich, August Wilhelm Schlegel founded the academic discipline of indology, that is, the study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent. In 1823 he published a Latin translation of the Bhagavad Gita. This was the first of a self-financed, self-published series known as ‘the Indian Library’, which also included translations of the Ramayana and the Hitopadesha. This project was later continued by his student Christian Lassen.

August Wilhelm Schlegel’s collection of Indian art is held by the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden, where it is currently being restored.

Together with Wilhelm von Humboldt and Franz Bopp, August Wilhelm Schlegel was one of the founders of the modern discipline of comparative literature.

Further Reading in English

Ralph W. Ewton, The Literary Theories of August Wilhelm Schlegel (The Hague: Mouton, 1972)

Paul Hamilton (ed.), Oxford Handbook on European Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Roger Paulin, August Wilhelm Schlegel: Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry (Open Book Publishers, 2016) (click here for open access online)

Further Reading in German

Digital Edition of the Correspondence of August Wilhelm Schlegel (click here for open access online)

Hilde Marianne Paulini, August Wilhelm Schlegel und die vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1985)