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Henry Crabb RobinsonRomantic Comparatist, 1790-1811$
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Philipp Hunnekuhl

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621785

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621785.001.0001

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Moral Discourse in A.W. Schlegel, Schiller, Goethe, and Lessing

Moral Discourse in A.W. Schlegel, Schiller, Goethe, and Lessing

(p.101) Chapter Four Moral Discourse in A.W. Schlegel, Schiller, Goethe, and Lessing
Henry Crabb Robinson

Philipp Hunnekuhl

Liverpool University Press

Chapter four focuses on Robinson’s five-letter series on German literature, in particular Goethe and Schiller, in the Monthly Register and Encyclopaedian Magazine (1802–03) that accompanied his transmissions of Kantianism to England, as well as his articles on Lessing in the Unitarian Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature (1806). Read against the backdrop of Robinson’s explications of Kant and informal discussion of August Wilhelm Schlegel, all of these writings emerge as erudite, autonomous attempts at resolving the impasse between aesthetic autonomy and literature’s moral relevance detailed in the preceding chapter. These attempts are further characterized by an experimental oscillation between Kantian and post-Kantian approaches to art, and demonstrate that Robinson was increasingly regarding literary form as those universal parameters that may facilitate moral discourse across national, cultural, and historical gulfs. The letters on German literature, and afterwards the appreciation of the ‘free-thinking spirit and love of humanity’ (Diana Behler) in Lessing’s cosmopolitanism, hence enabled Robinson to establish in terms of practical criticism his ‘ethical turn’ away from notions of full aesthetic autonomy and towards his critical principle of ‘Free Moral Discourse’.

Keywords:   August Wilhelm Schlegel, cosmopolitanism, Friedrich Schiller, German literature, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Immanuel Kant, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, literary ethics, Monthly Register, Monthly Repository

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