Which literary classic actually sucks

"Shit = Schiller!"

Arno Schmidt on the classic

By Jan Süselbeck

With regard to Arno Schmidt's notorious insults on Goethe, it has been speculated that the authors he hated best must in truth always have been the most important to him. Apparently Schiller was one of them. In “Zettels Traum” (1970) it says succinctly: “Scheiß = Schiller!” And Alice Schmidt, who, according to contemporary witnesses, liked to parrot what her husband said, wrote in her diary on July 10, 1954, that she was “starting now : Schiller's Jungfrau v. Orleans. - But how flat already the first verse. Which father says to his daughter: 'The flower of your body is unfolded'. Arno is of the same opinion! - What kind of god is Arno against it !! "

Is that megalomania? One thing is clear: Schmidt perceives Schiller as a dangerous competitor who needs to be put out of the way with a polemical furore. First of all, he is happy to make any assertion. He complains at one point: "In relation to erudition, Friedrich Schiller was a pitiful little light compared to the founder of Sanskrit studies or Shakespeare = translator". What is meant is August Wilhelm Schlegel.

The classic is a “great man, gladly admitted; But what are his pieces, viewed impartially, more than dialogized causes célèbres, d. H. famous criminal cases? ”As is well known, Schmidt could never make friends with the crime genre, which is why he disgusts brutal Schiller plots such as in“ Die Räuber ”or“ Jungfrau von Orleans ”:“ That Schiller today, with us, the most sought-after screenwriter for murder and robber stories only a lazy thinker or a Germanist can deny it. ”On the other hand, the critic turns this aspect positively elsewhere:“ Schiller was much more morbid and radical than the citizen, who is carried away by his national slogans, normally dares to admit! If the detective novel had already existed in his day (to which he made an unspeakable beginning in the 'Ghost Seer'), he would have excelled in it! - "

One more reason for today's reader to perhaps take this “ghost seer” (1788) at some point just to check out what this alleged “pre-thriller” is all about. “Read Schiller!”, It seems to be shouting to us from the biographical anecdotes presented by Schmidt with unmistakable fascination for identifying himself: “When Goethe stepped into the study of his 'friend' Schiller [.], He sniffed at his desk. He looked at Mrs. Charlotte; and she shrugged and pulled open the drawer, from which poured a real concert of sweetest = putrid smells: it was filled with rotting apples, in all stages and colors of only conceivable putrefaction of plant corpses: 'He says it stimulates him while writing!' "

Not only that Schmidt tries again here to honor public caricatures (and formerly: Nazi-conquered) classics by making the pillar saint Schiller again into a person who had bizarre ticks and spleens (and Goethe's much-invoked friendship with Schiller in Quotation marks); you can also see that Schmidt likes to justify his own alcoholic stimulant excesses at work - he drank tons of schnapps and coffee at night while he was writing - with the sniffing addiction of his great predecessor: "SCHILLER -: he was also gaylt at lazy Eppln" !

Last but not least, in Schiller he pays tribute to a man who "sacrificed" his life to literature without compromising: "He died at the age of 46, senselessly consumed like a candle lit at both ends!" A description that, of course, mainly refers to Schmidt himself who suffered a fatal stroke on a typewriter in 1979. However, that should not prevent us from reading what literary fruits resulted from the Fron. Despite the dire complaints of its authors, it can be really fun. Even with Schiller.