FRANK, Othmar (orig. Johann Georg Frank)

FRANK, Othmar (orig. Johann Georg Frank). Bamberg 8.5.1770 — Vienna 16.9.1840. German Pioneer of Indology. Professor in Munich. After school he entered the Benedictine monastery of Banz (now taking the new name Othmar Frank), and was ordained there as priest in 1794. Taught philosophy and mathematics at his monastery and at Bamberg Gymnasium. After secularization concentrated on Oriental studies, which he had already started earlier, and published four volumes of vagaries of his fantasy. In 1809 he styled himself Professor of Philosophy in Bamberg. In 1813 the Bavarian state sent him to Paris and in 1814 to London, now learned Sanskrit. In 1817 returned to Munich. From 1821 Professor philosophiae ac philologiae Orientalis, Indicae imprimis ac Persicae at Würzburg, from 1826 at the new München University. In 1840 he was sent to Vienna to examine a collection of Indian antiquities, which the king intended to buy, but died there.

OF was too fond of obscure philosophing, which often mars his work. On the other hand he knew Sanskrit rather well, and with the meagre help then available achieved quite much. In his early works (1809) he already discussed Sanskrit and comparative linguistics on the basis of Paulinus a S. Bartholomaeo, As. Res. and Foerster’s Śakuntalā. He published the first chrestomathy and grammar of Sanskrit in Germany and tried to start the study of Indian philosophy and iconography, but was severely criticized by his contemporaries and soon forgotten. In lack of types he used lithography for his Devanāgarī works. Among his few students were A. Holtzmann and M.-J. Müller.

Publications: Das Licht vom Orient. 182 p. Nürnberg & Lp. 1808; De Persidis Linguâ et Genio. Commentationes Phaosophico-Persicae. 325 p. Norimbergae 1809; Persien und Chili als Pole der physischen Erdbreite und Leitpunkte zur Kenntniss der Erde in einem Sendschreiben an den Herrn Kammerherrn Alexander von Humboldt. N. 1813; Fragmente eines Versuchs der dynamischen Spracherzeugung nach Vergleichungen der Persischen, Indischen und Teutschen Sprachen und Mythen. N. 1813.

Chrestomathia Sanscrita quem ex codicibus manuscriptis adhuc ineditis Londini exscripsit atque in usum tironum versione, expositione, tabulis grammaticis etc. illustratam edidit. 12+194 p. Monachii 1820-21.

Vyākaraṇaṁ çāstracaxush. Grammatica Sanscrita, nunc primum in Germania edidit. 16+218 p. Wirceb. 1823.

Vyāsa, über Philosophie, Mythologie, Literatur und Sprache der Hindu. 1:1-3. 1826-30 (a journal, nearly all written by OF himself, and a major part is filled by the philosophic article “Über den wissenschaftlichen Gehalt der Sanskrit-Literatur”)

Die Philosophie der Hindu; Vaedanta-sara von Sadananda. Ed., transl. und annotated. 12+21+98 p. 1835.

– “Über das Bild des Weltbaumeister Viśvakarman, in einem Felsentempel bey Illora in Indien”, ABaAW 1, 1835, 763-800 (on Śiva); “Über ein Denkmal der indischen Mythologie, nach einer indischen Zeichnung”, ABaAW 2, 1837, 301-379 (on Viṣṇu); “Über einige indische Idole des K. Antiquarium in München und zwei indische Köpfe in der Glyptothek S.M. des Königs”, Ibid. 381-397; “Über die indischen Verwandtschaften im Ägyptischen, besonders in Hinsicht auf Mythologie”, ABaAW 3, 1840, 99-154.

Sources: Windisch 63-67; *F. Babinger, “O.F. (1770-1840); ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der morgenländischen Studien in Bayern”, Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte 22, 1959, 77-123; Leskien, A.D.B. 7, 1878, 260.

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