- Schlegel, August Wilhelm
- (1767-1845)Scholar, critic, translator. Among the most accomplished of Shakespearean critics in German, Schlegel also became Shakespeare's greatest advocate and translator. He was convinced that Shakespeare was not a "pre-neoclassical primitive," as many had concluded, but instead had a vast and comprehensive dramatic insight that superseded any formal considerations. Shakespeare was neither primal nor uncivilized nor a nonrealistic playwright, according to Schlegel, but a concrete thinker in his plays. Such convictions were at wide variance with those of Schlegel's contemporaries, who often regarded Shakespeare as a gifted poet who wrote for an undeveloped theater culture. Shakespeare's anachronisms, Schlegel contended, were not weaknesses but rather a sign of confidence both in himself and in the age in which he lived. He also felt that Shakespeare knew exactly how to employ structure for maximum effect and created characters "who behave according to their own internal laws." Schlegel insisted that Shakespeare's dramatic form was extremely "compressed," and therefore the language in the plays had more functions than did normal speech in everyday life. As verse "is more concentrated in meaning than prose, it was a natural language for Shakespeare's stage." Schlegel's comprehensive knowledge of Shakespeare was due to his translations of the plays, and his influential essays established Shakespeare as a national figure in Germany.
Historical dictionary of German Theatre. William Grange. 2006.
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Schlegel,August Wilhelm von — Schle·gel (shlāʹgəl), August Wilhelm von. 1767 1845. German scholar who wrote influential criticism, translated several Shakespearean works, and composed poetry. He also edited a literary magazine with his brother Friedrich (1772 1829), a… … Universalium
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