The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Theater poet in Mannheim

Die Schaubühne ist mehr als jede andere öffentliche Anstalt des Staats eine Schule der praktischen Weisheit, ein Wegweiser durch das bürgerliche Leben, ein unfehlbarer Schlüssel zu den geheimsten Zugängen der menschlichen Seele.--Discourse on the Theater, 1784.

MANNHEIM, famed for the geometric regularity of its streets, was in Schiller's day a city of about twenty thousand inhabitants. Since 1720 it had been the capital of the Bavarian Palatinate, and under the Elector Karl Theodor it had acquired some distinction as a nursery of the arts. We have seen that Schiller, coming thither from Suabia, imagined himself escaping from the land of the barbarians to the land of the Greeks. In the year 1777 the Upper and Lower Palatinate were united, and the Elector transferred his residence to München. For this withdrawal of the light of their ruler's countenance the Mannheimers were compensated in a measure by the establishment among them of a so-called National Theater. There was no German nation at the time, but there was a very general interest in the German drama. Lessing's famous experiment at Hamburg, though it turned out badly, had set people thinking. Playwrights and actors were learning to regard themselves no longer as purveyors of mere

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