New Book | Jena 1800: The Republic of Free Spirits

Posted in books by Editor on December 20, 2022

From Macmillan:

Peter Neumann, Jena 1800: The Republic of Free Spirits, translated by Shelley Frisch (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0374178697, $27.

Around the turn of the nineteenth century, a steady stream of young German poets and thinkers coursed to the town of Jena to make history. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars had dealt a one-two punch to the dynastic system. Confidence in traditional social, political, and religious norms had been replaced by a profound uncertainty that was as terrifying for some as it was exhilarating for others. Nowhere was the excitement more palpable than among the extraordinary group of poets, philosophers, translators, and socialites who gathered in this Thuringian village of just four thousand residents.

Jena became the place for the young and intellectually curious, the site of a new departure, of philosophical disruption. Influenced by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, then an elder statesman and artistic eminence, the leading figures among the disruptors—the translator August Wilhelm Schlegel; the philosophers Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Schlegel and Friedrich Schelling; the dazzling, controversial intellectual Caroline Schlegel, married to August; Dorothea Schlegel, a poet and translator, married to Fritz; and the poets Ludwig Tieck and Novalis—resolved to rethink the world, to establish a republic of free spirits. They didn’t just question inherited societal traditions; with their provocative views of the individual and of nature, they revolutionized our understanding of freedom and reality. With wit and elegance, Peter Neumann brings this remarkable circle of friends and rivals to life in Jena 1800, a work of intellectual history that is colorful and passionate, informative and intimate—as fresh and full of surprises as its subjects.

Peter Neumann studied philosophy, political science, and economics in Jena and Copenhagen. He holds a PhD in philosophy and writes for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. He is the author of the poetry collections secure and areas & days, which have been awarded several prizes and scholarships.
Shelley Frisch’s translations from the German―which include biographies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Marlene Dietrich/Leni Riefenstahl (dual biography), and Franz Kafka―have been awarded numerous translation prizes. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

New Book | Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics

Posted in books by Editor on December 20, 2022

From Penguin Random House:

Andrea Wulf, Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self (New York: Knopf, 2022), 512 pages, ISBN: 978-0525657118, $35.

When did we begin to be as self-centered as we are today? At what point did we expect to have the right to determine our own lives? When did we first ask the question, How can I be free? It all began in a quiet university town in Germany in the 1790s, when a group of playwrights, poets, and writers put the self at center stage in their thinking, their writing, and their lives. This brilliant circle included the famous poets Goethe, Schiller, and Novalis; the visionary philosophers Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; the contentious Schlegel brothers; and, in a wonderful cameo, Alexander von Humboldt. And at the heart of this group was the formidable Caroline Schlegel, who sparked their dazzling conversations about the self, nature, identity, and freedom.

The French revolutionaries may have changed the political landscape of Europe, but the young Romantics incited a revolution of the mind that transformed our world forever. We are still empowered by their daring leap into the self, and by their radical notions of the creative potential of the individual, the highest aspirations of art and science, the unity of nature, and the true meaning of freedom. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfillment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our responsibilities toward our community and future generations. At the heart of this inspiring book is the extremely modern tension between the dangers of selfishness and the thrilling possibilities of free will.

Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She is the author of Founding Gardeners, Brother Gardeners, and The New York Times best seller The Invention of Nature, which has been published in twenty-seven languages and won fifteen international literary awards. Wulf has written for many newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. She is a member of PEN America and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.

Huge New Discovery of Notes on Hegel’s Lectures

Posted in books, the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 20, 2022

From The Guardian:

Sara Tor, “Manuscript Treasure Trove May Offer Fresh Understanding of Hegel,” The Guardian (29 November 2022).

One of the papers from a trove of 4,000 notes on Hegel, found by Professor Klaus Vieweg (Photograph: Marko Fuchs/Copyright Archiv und Bibliothek des Erzbistums München und Freising).

Library discovery of undocumented transcripts of German philosopher’s lectures like ‘finding new Beethoven score’

A biographer researching the German philosopher Hegel (1770–1831) has uncovered a massive treasure trove of previously undocumented lectures that could change perceptions regarding one of the leading figures of modern western philosophy. More than 4,000 pages of notes on Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s lectures were found by Klaus Vieweg in the library of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

“The discovery of these manuscripts is comparable to finding a new score by Beethoven or a previously unseen painting by Constable,” said Vieweg, a professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany.

He said an early reading of the notes had hinted at a fresh understanding of how Hegel formed his influential ideas on aesthetics, the philosophy around beauty and art, and how he analysed Shakespeare’s plays to help develop his ideas.

The transcripts are thought to have been written by Friedrich Wilhelm Carové, one of the first students at Heidelberg University to be taught by Hegel during the philosopher’s time there between 1816 and 1818. Hegel’s ideas and works are notable for their formidable difficulty. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell described him as “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Vieweg hopes the new find might bring clarity. The papers will now be compiled into an annotated edition by a team of international experts, headed by Vieweg and Christian Illies, a professor of philosophy at the University of Bamberg.

“Major sections of Hegel’s work are only known through his lectures, so scholars have long been trying to find transcripts,” said Illies. “Several were found and published in the 19th and 20th centuries, but over the years uncovering new material has become less and less likely.”

Vieweg’s find is probably the single largest of its kind ever made. It was unearthed after a reader of his recent biography on Hegel pointed him to the archive of Friedrich Windischmann. Windischmann was a professor of Catholic theology in Munich whose father, Karl Joseph Hieronymous Windischmann, was a philosopher and friend of Hegel. A letter between Hegel and Karl Windischmann shows that Carové gave the set of manuscripts to the latter as a gift.

Although research on the material has only just begun, there has already been one significant find: the boxes contain a transcript from one of the very first lectures Hegel gave on aesthetics. Currently, any knowledge of Hegel’s thoughts on aesthetics originates from much later lectures given in Berlin. These were published after his death by his student Heinrich Gustav Hotho using a combination of lecture transcripts and Hegel’s own notes. As there have been no other sources to compare this with, questions have arisen as to how far this material was influenced by Hotho. The discovery of early lectures, therefore, could help to finally clear up the uncertainty. . . .

The full article is available here»

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