The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel, Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry - cover image


Roger Paulin

Published On





  • English

Print Length

678 pages (xiv + 664)


Paperback156 x 35 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.36" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 37 x 234 mm(6.14" x 1.44" x 9.21")


Paperback2069g (72.98oz)
Hardback2474g (87.27oz)



OCLC Number





  • BG
  • BGL
  • D
  • DS


  • BIO007000
  • LIT004170
  • LIT024040


  • PT2503.S3


  • August Wilhelm Schlegel
  • biography
  • German Romaticism
  • European Romanticism
  • Madame de Stael
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The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel, Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry

This is the first full-scale biography, in any language, of a towering figure in German and European Romanticism: August Wilhelm Schlegel whose life, 1767 to 1845, coincided with its inexorable rise. As poet, translator, critic and oriental scholar, Schlegel's extraordinarily diverse interests and writings left a vast intellectual legacy, making him a foundational figure in several branches of knowledge. He was one of the last thinkers in Europe able to practise as well as to theorise, and to attempt to comprehend the nature of culture without being forced to be a narrow specialist. With his brother Friedrich, for example, Schlegel edited the avant-garde Romantic periodical Athenaeum; and he produced with his wife Caroline a translation of Shakespeare, the first metrical version into any foreign language. Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature were a defining force for Coleridge and for the French Romantics. But his interests extended to French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literature, as well to the Greek and Latin classics, and to Sanskrit.

August Wilhelm Schlegel is the first attempt to engage with this totality, to combine an account of Schlegel’s life and times with a critical evaluation of his work and its influence. Through the study of one man's rich life, incorporating the most recent scholarship, theoretical approaches, and archival resources, while remaining easily accessible to all readers, Paulin has recovered the intellectual climate of Romanticism in Germany and traced its development into a still-potent international movement. The extraordinarily wide scope and variety of Schlegel's activities have hitherto acted as a barrier to literary scholars, even in Germany. In Roger Paulin, whose career has given him the knowledge and the experience to grapple with such an ambitious project, Schlegel has at last found a worthy exponent.


Paulin’s impressive biography—which Open Book Publishers are to be commended for making freely downloadable in PDF from their website—reveals a Schlegel who, for all his engagement with history, was resistant to the historicist school of thought that was to dominate German historiography in the nineteenth century.

Nicholas Halmi

"Roger Paulin - The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel: Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry". Romantic Circles, 2017.

Full Review

Additional Resources

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations


1. Family, Childhood and Youth (1767-1794)

2. Jena and Berlin (1795-1804)

2.1 Jena

2.2 Berlin (1801-1804)

2.3 The Berlin Lectures

3.The Years with Madame de Staël (1804-1817)

3.1 With Madame de Staël in Coppet and Acosta 1805-1807

3.2 Vienna

3.3 The Flight: Caught Up in History

3.4 Scholarly Matters

4. Bonn and India (1818-1845)

4.1 Bonn

4.2 India

5. The Past Returns

5.1 The Last Years 1834-1845

Short Biographies

Select Bibliography

List of Illustrations



Roger Paulin

Schröder Professor Emeritus at University of Cambridge