Henry Crabb Robinson and the Diffusion of German Literature in Britain

Henry Crabb Robinson and the Diffusion of German Literature in Britain
28 November 2018, 5.30pm - 7.00pm
Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Speaker: James Vigus (Queen Mary University of London)

Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867) dedicated much of his long life to German literature, beginning with a five-year stay in Germany (1800-1805) during which he studied philosophy at the University of Jena. His articles on his favourite German writers - including Goethe, Schiller, Kant, and Lessing - and his translations did not circulate sufficiently to play a major role in the ‘importation of German’. Nevertheless, as this paper will outline using manuscript correspondence and unpublished diaries, Robinson provided a series of more prominent advocates for German writing and thought with significant material and ideas. In 1804 he gave a series of private lectures to Madame de Staël, who used them as a source for her successful book De l’Allemagne (1813). Subsequently, he lent books to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the 1820s, he influenced Thomas Carlyle’s early German studies, including the choice of material for Carlyle’s German Romance (1827). In 1833, he contributed to Sara Austin’s books Characteristics of Goethe. In the 1840s, he helped with Sara Coleridge’s annotation of her father’s references to German works. His final diary entry in 1867 characteristically expressed the intention to assist Matthew Arnold with his German research. Despite his excessively modest assessment of his own achievements, Robinson played an enduring part in the diffusion of German literature, which the Henry Crabb Robinson Project is in the process of uncovering in full.   

Attendance free. Please register online.


Jane Lewin
020 7862 8966