Nineteenth Century Philosophy
What is the story behind Friedrich Schelling’s scandalous romantic affair with August Wilhelm von Schlegel’s wife?
When he was teaching in Jena, Schelling was close friends with German poet August Wilhelm von Schlegel, who was highly esteemed by other German Romantics, and with Karoline, who would later be the poet’s wife. There was discussion of marriage between Schelling and the Schlegels’ daughter, Auguste. But Auguste died from dysentery in 1800, after Schelling had supervised her treatment. At first, Schelling was blamed, but later biographers exonerated him because her death was probably medically inevitable at that time.
Schelling and Karoline then recognized their love for each other, and August moved out, leaving Jena for Berlin. Later, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, another famous literary figure, helped secure a divorce, and Schelling and Karoline married, after they had left Jena to avoid the predictable scandal.