SCHLEGEL, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (1814 von Schl.). Hannover 10.3.1772 — Dresden 12.1.1829. German Literate and Pioneer of Indology. Son of Johann Adolf S., Lutheran priest and author, of an old cultural family, and Erdmuthe Hübsch, brother of —> A. W. von Schlegel. Student of law at Leipzig, soon became more interested in literature and art, especially in ancient Greek. After a while in Jena he moved in 1797 to Berlin. With his brother August Wilhelm and others he started the romantic school. In 1798-1800 literary critic of the Athäneum which he also edited with his brother. Then briefly teaching at Jena. In 1802 he went to Paris in order to study art, became friend with —> Alexander Hamilton, who lived in his place during his own internment and taught him Sanskrit in 1803-04. Further studies among the manuscripts in library. Beside Sanskrit he also took Persian. In 1808 he adopted Roman Catholicism and turning with time more and more conservative he became estranged from Indology. From 1809 Secretary to Hof- und Staatskanzlei in Vienna preparing political propaganda. From 1820 he published the journal Concordia, wich supported the Holy Alliance. In 1828 moved to Dresden. From 1797 living together and 1804 married with DorotheaVeit, the daughter of Moses Mendelssohn and a noted authoress, no children.
Fr. Schlegel was a sharp critic, but rather mediocre as a poet. In Indology, his Sprache und Weisheit was an important pioneer work, with bold subtitle “Beitrag zur Begründung der Alterthumskunde”. Its “Erstes Buch. Von der Sprache” was a predecessor of Bopp, but also more or less established the erroneous doctrine of Sanskrit as the IE Urspracheand India as the IE Urheimat. It was followed by “Zweites Buch. Von der Philosophie” and “Drittes Buch. Historische Ideen”. To these were appended the very first direct translations from Sanskrit into German ever published: “I. Anfang des Ramayon, II. Indische Kosmogonie aus dem ersten Buch der Gesetze des Monu, III. Aus dem Bhogovotgita, IV. Aus der Geschichte der Sokuntala nach dem Mohabharot”, all culled from manuscripts in Paris. In addition, he already knew the Hitopadeśa and the Śakuntalā in original language, but after all his knowledge of Sanskrit seems to be very modest. His motivation in delving to Sanskrit and India can be seen in many ways. Thus on the one hand it has been interpreted as sort of an apology of the newly converted Catholic Christian explaining Indian thought as showing traces of the common Urrevelation (Park) and on the other as supporting the awakening of German nationalism claiming that Germans had preserved their true Indian heritage much purer than Greece and Rome (Tzoref-Ashkenazi). His viewpoint is certainly romantic and from modern perspective many ideas look silly (original monotheism of India and Sanskrit as God’s own language), but they should be seen in the context of the time. In this book he had come from the original enthusiasm to sharp criticism of Indian religion and philosophy and after it he never returned to Indian studies.
Publications: Geschichte der Poesie der Griechen und Römer. 1:1. B. 1798; Luzide. B. 1799 (novel); Alarcos. 1802 (a tragedy).
– Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier. Ein Beitrag zur Begründung der Alterthumskunde. Heidelberg 1808, new ed. with intr. 57+16+324 p. Amst. Classics in Linguistics 1. Amsterdam 1977.
– Geschichte der alten und neuen Literatur. Vienna 1815; Philosophie der Geschichte. Vienna 1829; Philosophische Vorlesungen. 1-2. Bonn 1830; a great number of articles, reviews, poems, etc.
Sources: *Benfey 1869, 357-369; E. Franco, “Die Gebrüder Schlegel aus Sicht der gegenwärtigen deutschsprachigen Indologie“, Fs. R.P. Das. 2020, 73-108; *G. Höpfner, Die indischen Studien Friedrich Schlegels im Zusammenhang seines Denkens. Diss. Breslau 1921; *Hoffmann 1915, 60-84; *K. Koerner, “FS and the emergence of historical comparative grammar”, Lingua e Stile 22, 1987, 341-365; *A. Parel, “F.S. and the Beginning of Sanskrit Studies in Germany”, JIH 1976, 547-566; Peter K. J. Park, “A Catholic Apologist in a Pantheistic World: New Approaches to FS”, McGetchin et al. 2004, 83-106; S.A. Romaschko, “Sprachwissenschaft. Ästhetik und Naturforschung fer Goethe-Zeit”, Historiographia Linguistica 18, 1991, 301-320 (also *Russian articles on the same theme); *P. Schmitter, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 833-835; *U. Struc, “Zu F.S.’s Handschriften seiner Übersetzungen aus dem Sanskrit”, ZDMG 118, 1968, 320-3??; *U. Struck-Oppenberg, Quellenstudien zu F.S.’s Übersetzungen aus dem Sanskrit. Marburg 1965 (cf. de Jong, IIJ 9, 196?, 309-311); S. Timpanaro, introduction to the 1977 edition of Sprache und Weisheit; Windisch 57f.; *Ch. Tzoref-Ashkenazi, “The Nationalistic Aspect of FS’s On the Language and the Wisdom of the Indians”, McGetchin et al. 2004, 107-130; J. Zovko, N.D.B. 23, 2007, 40-42; Wikipedia with two portraits and further references; portrait in Rau 5. N.B. A number of books and articles concentrating on other sides of his career than Indology are left out.
*H. Finke (ed.), Briefe an Fr. Schl. 104 p. Görres-Ges. 1917:2. Köln 1917.
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