The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
The Maid of Orleans

Die Schönheit ist für ein glückliches Geschlecht; ein unglückliches musz man erhaben zu rühren suchen.--Letter of July 26, 1800.

IT was well observed by Wilhelm von Humboldt that Schiller's plays are not repetitions of the same thing, such as talent is wont to produce when it has once met with a success, but the productions of a spirit that ever kept wrestling anew with the demands of art. With each fresh attempt he essayed a really new theme, and taken as a whole his works exhibit a remarkable variety of substance. Each one has its own individuality, its own atmosphere. And he himself wished that this should be so; it was a part of his study to avoid repeating himself. 'One must not become the slave of any general concept',--so he wrote to Goethe in July, 1800,--'but have the courage to invent a new form for each new matter and keep the type-idea flexible in one's mind.'

These words were penned with direct reference to The Maid of Orleans', which was begun very soon after the completion of 'Mary Stuart'. Whether Schiller then had in mind all those elements which subsequently led to the sub-title, I a romantic tragedy',

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