Poems in Günderrode’s Notebooks & Their Sources

Supplementary information and corrections to published scholarship on the sources for poems transcribed in Günderrode’s notebooks. This is a resource for scholars working on Günderrode’s notes and unpublished writings.

Günderrode left numerous notes from her studies on a range of subjects, including philosophy, chemistry, Latin, metrics, physiognomy, ancient history and religions from across the world. Her notes also include transcriptions of poems, which in some cases she altered. Sabine Gölz (2000) has shown how a careful analysis of Günderrode’s selective transcription and rewriting of poems by other authors (in particular, Novalis) can yield insights into Günderrode’s thought. I hope that the information below will facilitate further study of Günderrode’s work on those pieces to which she makes significant creative modifications in her transcription.

Published data on the sources for the poems in Günderrode’s notebooks is based on information in a 1975 article by Doris Hopp and Max Preitz. In this post, I add supplementary information and corrections to this data. I also indicate findings from a preliminary cross-referencing of Günderrode’s transcriptions with the originals.

Large portions of Günderrode’s study books are available in German in Günderrode 1990–1991 and Hopp and Preitz 1975. A smaller number of English translations can be found in Gjesdal and Nassar 2021 and my forthcoming volume of translations from Günderrode’s writings, Philosophical Fragments.

This blog considers only Günderrode’s transcriptions of poems and other works of literature that are not addressed elsewhere (e.g., in my forthcoming Philosophical Fragments or Gölz 2000).

Wilhelm Nicolaus Freudentheil, “Die Erfindung der Schreibekunst [The Discovery of the Art of Writing]”
Hopp and Preitz 243-44; see 307
The version of this poem in Günderrode’s notes was transcribed in someone else’s handwriting. Freudentheil’s original is titled “Erfindung der Schrift [Discovery of Writing].” Other than the altered title, minor differences in punctuation, and one change in the first line of the last verse (“my dear [mein Theurer]” instead of “my brother [mein Bruder]”), the poem is copied faithfully.

Karl Philipp Conz, “Die Jugend Jahre [The Years of Youth]”
Hopp and Preitz 244-47; see 307-8
This poem appears in Conz’s 1806 collection Gedichte (p.109), where it is titled “Jugendzeit [The Time of Youth].” However, the version in Günderrode’s notes differs from the poem in that collection. Hopp and Preitz suggest that whoever copied this piece into Günderrode’s notes (it is not in her handwriting) may have taken it from an earlier publication. I have not been able to find this earlier source, and it is also possible that Günderrode made these changes herself.

Karl Ludwig von Knebel, “Cynthiens Schatten [Cynthia’s Shade]”
Hopp and Preitz 247-49; see 308-9
Knebel’s 1796 translation of the poem “Cynthia’s Shade” by the Latin elegiac poet Sextus Propertius (c. 50–15 BCE) appeared in Schiller’s journal Die Horen. Günderrode transcribes this poem fairly faithfully, although she tends to omit punctuation. However, she changes the line “and sighing were the words [und seufzend waren die Worte]” to “and lamenting were the words [und klagend waren die Worte],” omits three words that do not significantly alter the meaning of the sentence (e.g., “then [dann]”) and, most significantly, in two places omits two lines. It is unclear whether these changes were deliberate or accidental.

Edmund von Harald, trans., “Darthula” and “The Songs of Selma”
Hopp and Preitz 249-50; see 309-310
In 1775, Harold published the first complete translations of Ossian in German. Günderrode provides a close transcription of the opening passage of Harold’s translation of “Darthula” (Harold 1775, 180–81). However, her transcription of the opening two paragraphs of Harold’s translation of the “Songs of Selma” is loose and really only summarises the story (Harold 1775, 15–16).

Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten, “Ritogar und Wanda [Ritogar and Wanda]”
Hopp and Preitz 250-62; see 310-11
Günderrode copied the entire piece, transcribing quite faithfully to begin with (except for variations in spelling and punctuation), but with increasing deviations as she wrote. Especially towards the end of the piece, Günderrode’s version has several missing lines as well as differences in word choice from the version published in Kosegarten’s 1798 collection Poesieen. It is possible that these changes were Günderrode’s own or that she was working from a different version by Kosegarten.

Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten, “Das Schicksal und das Ich, nach Jean Paul [Destiny and the I, after Jean Paul]”
Hopp and Preitz 263-64; see 311
As Hopp and Preitz note, Kosegarten’s poem is a summary of the end of chapter 23 in Jean Paul’s novel Siebenkäs. Günderrode’s transcription omits several lines and changes one word (“roses [Rosen]” becomes “flowers [Blumen]”); otherwise, she is faithful to Kosegarten’s original.

The famous passage beginning “To be or not to be…” from August Wilhelm Schlegel and Caroline Schlegel’s translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet 
Hopp and Preitz 267-68; see 313
Other than the usual minor differences in spelling and punctuation, Günderrode copies the Schlegels’ translation faithfully, with two exceptions. She omits “also/even [auch]” which the Schlegels added to their translation of Shakespeare’s “To sleep: perchance to dream” (Schlafen! Vielleicht auch träumen!).” And she replaces the word “needle” (Nadel) in the Schlegels’ translation of “With a bare bodkin” (Mit einer Nadel bloß) with “dagger” (Dolch). A bodkin is a small dagger. Technically, both these changes make Günderrode’s text closer to Shakespeare’s original, although in the first case she sacrifices scansion and in the second the emphasis on the small size of the weapon, which is relevant in the passage. This may indicate that she read the original English as well as the German translation.

August Hennings, “Des Menschen Bestimmung [The Human Vocation]”
Hopp and Preitz 268; see 314 
This entry in Günderrode’s notes was made in someone else’s handwriting. The original is titled simply “Vocation [Bestimmung].” This short piece is cited in its entirety in Günderrode’s notes and transcribed accurately except for her usual loose transcription of punctuation and one change: Günderrode’s notes have “man! [Mensch!]” where the original has “friend! [Freund!]”

Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten, “Gott nach Vanini [God, after Vanini]”
Hopp and Preitz 274-75; see 315
Kosegarten’s original poem was published in 1797 and titled “An Gott [To God].” Günderrode’s transcription of the piece differs considerably from Kosegarten’s published versions – it may be Günderrode’s own reworking of the piece or she may have had access to a different, unknown version. Kosegarten’s poem is a translation of the Latin poem “Deo” by Lucilio (Giulio Cesare) Vanini (1585–1619), an Italian philosopher and doctor who was executed for atheism and blasphemy. Hopp and Preitz are incorrect that the original Kosegarten piece is “Vanini’s Hymne” in the first volume of his Poesieen; this is a different poem.


Conz, Karl Philipp. 1806. “Die Jugend Jahre.” Gedichte. 109-113. Zurich: Orell Füssli und Compagnie.

Ezekiel, Anna, ed. Forthcoming. Philosophical Fragments. New York: Oxford University Press.

Freudentheil, Wilhelm Nicolaus. “Erfindung der Schrift.” In Gedichte. 37-40. Hannover: Verlage der Helwingschen Hofbuchhandlung, 1803.

Gölz, Sabine. 2000. “Günderrode Mines Novalis.” In “The Spirit of Poesy”: Essays on Jewish and German Literature and Thought in Honor of Géza von Molnár. Ed. Richard Block and Peter Fenves, 89–130. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Günderrode, Karoline von. 2021. Selected writings. Trans. Anna Ezekiel in Women Philosophers in the Long Nineteenth Century: The German Tradition. Ed. Kristin Gjesdal and Dalia Nassar. Oxford University Press.

Günderrode, Karoline von. 1990-1991. Sämtliche Werke und ausgewählte Studien. Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe. Ed. Walter Morgenthaler. Basel, Frankfurt: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern. 3 vols.

Harold, Edmund von, trans. 1775. “Darthula. Ein Gedicht.” In Die Gedichte Ossians eines alten celtischen Helden und Barden. Vol. 2. 180-201. Düsseldorf.

Harold, Edmund von, trans. 1775. “Die Lieder von Selma. Ein Gedicht.” In Die Gedichte Ossians eines alten celtischen Helden und Barden. Vol. 2. 15-27. Düsseldorf.

Hennings, August. 1798. “Bestimmung.” In Der Musaget, Ein Begleiter der Genius der Zeit. Viertes Stück. 89-90. Altona: J. F. Hammerich.

Hopp, Doris, and Max Preitz. 1975. “Karoline von Günderrode in ihrer Umwelt. III. Karoline von Günderrodes ‘Studienbuch.’” Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts: 223-323.

Kosegarten, Ludwig Theobul. 1797. “An Gott.” In Eusebia. Eine Jahresschrift zur Beförderung der Religiosität, mit einem Kupfer von Penzel, Erstes Jahr. 16-19. Leipzig: Heinrich Gräff.

Kosegarten, Ludwig Theobul. 1798. “Ritogar und Wanda.” In Poesieen. Vol. 2. 5-40. Leipzig: Heinrich Gräff.

Kosegarten, Ludwig Theobul. 1798. “Das Schicksal und das Ich, nach Jean Paul.” In Poesieen. Vol. 2. 310-314. Leipzig: Heinrich Gräff.

Knebel, Karl Ludwig von. 1796. “Cynthiens Schatten. Elegie von Properz. Des vierten Buchs siebente.” Die Horen. Vol. 8, Part 11. Ed. Friedrich Schiller, 98–104. Tübingen: J. G. Cotta.

“#Günderrode left numerous notes from her studies on a range of subjects, including philosophy, chemistry, Latin, metrics, physiognomy, ancient history and religions from across the world…”

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