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March 22, 2018

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Schlegel and the Candles


August Wilhelm von Schlegel is in the habit of opening his lectures with ceremonial solemnity. As a rule, his valet appears first, setting candles on the lectern and a glass of sugar water next to them, disappears, then returns with the scholar´s briefcase and lights the candles. Following a carefully stage-managed interval the lecture eventually begins.

One day, this ceremony completed, Schlegel finds the auditorium empty. Subsequently, he is amazed to see a number of commissionaires enter lighting a candle at the seat of each student and depositing their folders. The last one holds the door open respectfully: enter the gentlemen-students. Icy silence. Schlegel raises his eyebrows almost to his wig - and begins to deliver his lecture in piercing staccato. A famous witness to this story is Heinrich Heine, the German poet, in those days a student in Bonn.

Last update: November 22, 2011



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