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Translator’s Note

This translation of Schiller’s Don Carlos joins Fiesco1 and Wallenstein2 in a continuing series of translations, with commentary, of Schiller’s major plays which Open Book Publishers makes freely available to a wide readership.

Like those translations, this one addresses itself to young people in college-level instruction and to the general reader. The endnotes therefore undertake to ease a student’s way through an old text. At a basic level, they identify people and places and provide modest amounts of other historical information. Less basically, they draw attention to the motifs and other forms of internal reference the poet has embedded in the text, and they excavate what remains unsaid—but is present—in the best of Schiller’s representations of speech and thought. Importantly, they point to the structures in the architecture of the play.

Schiller never finished Don Carlos to his satisfaction, and passages of great prolixity survive. Here I have refrained from expanding—or inflating—the English text with what to my ear are otiose repetitions and tautological modifiers present in the German original. I aim for a gain in felicity at no expense of meaning.

Translation enables deep acquaintance with a literary work and that acquaintance has raised my estimation of Don Carlos. This great patchwork of a young man’s play may not be Schiller’s greatest—that distinction surely belongs to Wallenstein—but it is, with reason, his best loved.

I gratefully acknowledge my debt to Gerhard Kluge, editor of the edition Deutsche Klassiker, Frankfurt am Main, 1989, the text on which my translation is based, whose commentary and other materials proved a rich resource for the end notes. Roger Paulin read the text with a fine ear and wide knowledge, and his comments greatly strengthened the translation.

Additional Resources

Readers can freely access the original German text of Schiller’s Don Carlos, Don Karlos: Infant von Spanien (Leipzig: Georg Joachim Göschen, 1804) at The Internet Archive Library, https://archive.org/details/donkarlosinfant00schigoog


1 Friedrich Schiller, Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa. Translation by Flora Kimmich. Introduction and Notes to the Text by John Guthrie (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015), https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0058

2 Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein: A Dramatic Poem. Translation and Notes to the Text by Flora Kimmich. Introduction by Roger Paulin (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2017), https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0101