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or, On Nature's Connection to the Spirit World

F. W. J. Schelling, Fiona Steinkamp

Publication Year: 2002

This is the first English translation of Schelling’s novel, most likely written after the death of his first wife, Caroline, the former wife of August Wilhelm Schlegel. Although only a fragment, Clara remains unique. Part novella, part philosophical tome, its central theme is the connection between this world and the next. Schelling masterfully weaves together his knowledge of animal magnetism, literary techniques, and his doctrine of the potencies to make his philosophy accessible to all. Steinkamp addresses the main issues concerning the dating of the work—many commentators have deemed Clara to be a sketch for Schelling’s The Ages of the World or an outline for the third, missing book of that work—and provides a short biography of Schelling with particular emphasis on events claimed to play a role in the conception of Clara, such as the deaths of both Caroline and her daughter, Auguste. She also shows how passages in Clara are strikingly similar to the content of Schelling’s touching letters mourning Caroline, written to Pauline, the daughter of Caroline’s best friend and the woman who would become his second wife. Clara, strongly influenced by the Romantic movement, is an early illustration of Schelling’s attempt to unite his positive and negative philosophy.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xl

Clara is unique in the philosophical literature. It is a discussion told as a story, its very structure ref lects its content, and it has a woman as one of its central characters. Unfortunately, the work remains as only a fragment, but it is imbued with many Romantic themes and can be read on a variety of levels. ...


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pp. xli-xliii

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pp. 3-8

Through its name the old metaphysics declared itself to be a science that followed in accordance with, and that to some extent also followed from, our knowledge of nature and improved and progressed from that; thus in a certain competent and sound way that is of service only to those who have a desire for ...

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pp. 9-20

On All Souls’ Day the doctor and I rode into town in order to pick up Clara in the evening, Clara having traveled in a few days earlier in the company of my two daughters.1 As we came to an opening that framed the pretty town, lying midway or so up the mountain within the backdrop of the broad plain, we saw ...

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pp. 21-30

We had noticed that since her return our friend had a strong and almost continual desire to talk about things concerning that other world. The events of the time, infected with a peculiar sorrow, were suggestive of an even darker future and had made the beautiful soul lose the peaceful demeanor we used to see in her. ...

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pp. 31-62

A wonderful depth of feeling that could enter right into her way of thinking betrayed itself in some conversations; however, what she lacked was the ability to unpack her thoughts and thereby clarify them. I know what an agreeable effect ordering one’s own thoughts into a precise framework has; the soul ...

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pp. 63-66

At about the same time, a few days or weeks or so later, a philosophy book arrived in which some of the excellent things it contained were written in a completely incomprehensible language and abounded, so to speak, with barbarism.1 Clara found it on my table and after she’d read it for a while, she said: ...

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pp. 67-78

On the way Clara recounted: the fishermen told her yesterday that the lake was showing signs of spring, the irregular rise and fall of the water was dying down, and even the waterfowl that go away over winter had been seen. I’ve longed to see the lake all winter, she continued. We spoke so much and so often ...

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pp. 79-82

O, Spring, time of longing, with what a zest for life you fill the heart! On the one hand, we are drawn to the spirit realm insofar as we feel that true bliss can exist only in that greatest profundity of life; on the other hand, with its thousandfold magic, nature calls heart and senses alike [176] back ...


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pp. 83-84


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pp. 85-88


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pp. 89-96


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pp. 97-106


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pp. 107-110


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pp. 111-116

E-ISBN-13: 9780791488454
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791454077
Print-ISBN-10: 079145407X

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2002