Rahel Levin Varnhagen


Rahel Levin Varnhagen

The Life and Work of a German Jewish Intellectual

Heidi Thomann Tewarson

Texts and Contexts Series

282 pages


October 1998


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About the Book

Rahel Levin Varnhagen (1771–1833) occupied a unique place in German intellectual history. She is known for the salon she initiated in Berlin, which became a center for intellectuals and artists of various social classes—especially for writers of the Romantic and the Young Germany schools. Based on research at the rediscovered Varnhagen Collection, Heidi Thomann Tewarson provides a new and comprehensive portrait of this remarkable woman. No longer primarily the sparkling salonnière, Varhagen is recognized as the author of a unique epistolary oeuvre.

Tewarson gives a rich account of Varnhagen’s intellectual community, made up of such figures as Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel, Clemens Brentano, Goethe, Hegel, Leopold Ranke, Heine, and the assimilated Jewish community in Berlin. Tewarson also discusses Varnhagen’s writings on women, philosophy, literature, Jews, and a host of other topics. In particular, she highlights Varnhagen’s insights into—and vehement protests against —discrimination against women and Jews. These writings led to Varnhagen’s reputation as a leading intellectual of her era—a champion of literary figures and movements, of human rights, and of Enlightenment values.

Author Bio

Heidi Thomann Tewarson is a professor of German at Oberlin College. Author of two books and numerous articles, she publishes on eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century German literature.

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