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Frederich Schiller and Venice


André Fabre                 June 2013

 Frederic Schiller is an emblematic figure for the "Romantic Hero" in XIXth century Germany.

He was born in Marbach near Stuttgart. His father had been military doctor and there was no choice for the young Schiller than Military Academy in Stuttgart.

He ended as Physician of a Regiment but he did not like the life in the Army and left early to live in Jena then Weimar, where he met Wolfgang von Goethe: from that moment, he realized that his vocation was not medicine but theater and poetry.

Venice only remained as a dream all along Schiller's short life :  he could never travel so far in Europe but managed to get the magical city at the center of his "hyper-romantic" work, "The Prince of Venice" sometimes called "The Spirit of Venice", a wild mixture of necromancy, magic and romanrsque passion.

This is the story of the Prince of a small principality typical of Germany in that time. He arrives in Venice during Carnival : one night when he is strolling on  Piazza San Marco, he is approached by a mysterious Armenian, who tells such bizarre words: "Are you looking for  happiness, my Prince ?" before disappearing into the crowd. Further searches for the mysterious Armenian remain vain.

A few days later, the Prince comes again to  Piazza San Marco, and enters Cafe Florian: he stays behind some card players observing their game when suddenly reappears the mysterious Armenian who, this time, appears to be most aggressive. The prince courteously invited him to leave, but the man replies with a great arrogance. Follows a quarrel anf they  come to blows. The prince threw his opponent to the ground and the man rises uttering obscure death threats.

Eveyone then advises the prince to leave Venice but it is already too late. The dreaded Inquisition of Venice arrives : the prince is arrested and thrown blindfolded in a gondola bringing him through  a maze of channels at a mysterious palace. When the blindfold  is torn away, the prince can see that he is in front of the Court of Inquisitors, with masked judges  coated in black dresses. A man is pushed in front of them: the Inquisitors ask the prince to confirm that he is really his insulter of the previous day. The man himself confirms the facts and a masked executioner arrives, the man is  made to kneel and, to the horror of the prince, is at once beheaded…

In the following days, arrive from Germany a letter informing the prince that a revolt has burst in his kingdom. He must as soon as possible leave Venice, but fate has decided otherwise ; after many astounding  episodes, at last,  the Prince finds the great love of his life but the beautiful figure gets lost in the crowd. Now begins a frantic quest where all searches are unsuccessful but the Prince will find his beloved in the Laguna,  on the boat from  Venice to Chioggia.

Everything in this story is suggestive of the feverish excitement that got along with his life to Frederick Schiller. He had always dreamed of Venice and his luck he never had an opportunity to get there : the reality is never so nice, we know all, as dream ...


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Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/07/2013

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