Monday, 26 December 2016

Johanna Schopenhauer, and why she matters

My friend Sabine blogged about the project, to have a plaque attached to one of the buildings at the Weimar Esplanade, to remember Johanna Schopenhauer, and the donations being collected for it.

One might now ask: "Who was that woman? And why does she matter?" Or "Schopenhauer? You must mean Arthur. Because, who's Johanna?"

Johanna Schopenhauer was for many years not much more than a name attached to a couple of handsome portraits of a woman with strong features and rather dull writing to me. Though it changed after Sabine sent me a copy of Carola Sterns biography about Johanna.
And there she came alive. Not just as a mother of grumpy Arthur. But as a woman inspired by her surroundings, by the writers and thinkers of her time. As a woman who inspires thought and reflection, compassion and a duty to stand for her own convictions.
In a time period, where women were either ostracised or ridiculed for their thoughts and works, she's one more who's spirit survived the centuries, and speaks to us today.

Johanna Schopenhauer and her daughter Adele, by Carola Bardua
Copyright: https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johanna_Schopenhauer



Johanna was widely travelled, she recounts her journeys (we have to thank her for quite some of the early romantic views on Scotland and England) spoke several languages, had the education and polish of an accomplished woman. 
Johanna also experienced what it is to be a woman in the late 18th century, how legal matters were complicated for her, because as a woman she faced restrictions what we esteem as 'backwards and daft' today. We understand that the Declaration of human rights was the beginning of modernity - yet it excluded women. She's a Bourgeoise, but her salon is frequented not just by her equals, but also by members more elevated circles. Her salon was not a formal affair, but an 'Open door'. If you were witty, and had something to say, you would be welcome. If you weren't, you were welcome non the less, you might just need a bit of starting help to find out, in what direction you want to spread your wings.

To me and many others Johanna Schopenhauer isn't just a decorative figure, but as much part of our beloved Weimar as her contemporaries Charlotte von Stein, the interesting person of Christiane von Goethe and many other, much better known ladies. 
That is why I was thrilled to read in Sabines blog, that the Circle of Friends around the Goethe National museum plans to get a commemorative plaque for Johanna.

I would like to share the text of the Freundeskreis Goethe Nationalmuseum e.V. Weimar, as translated by Sabine Schierhoff

Call for donations to build a commemorative plaque for Johanna Schopenhauer in the Schillerstrasse
 Probably the most famous cup of tea in Weimar was served on the 20th October 1806 from the saloniere Johanna Schopenhauer to Goethe's newly wed wife Christiane. With the immortal words "I guess if Goethe has given her his good name, we can kindly offer her a cup of tea" she tore down the wall of rejection, which the Weimar society had bestowed on Goethe's wife to ostracize her.
For this generous and witty gesture alone Johanna Schopenhauer (1766-1838) truly deserves the respect of Goethes family and friends and all of us til today. But she has plenty more merits, which have helped her to become an essential part of the "Classic Weimar". After the two days of marauding and looting past to the lost battle in Jena on the 14th October 1806, the sophisticated, eloquent and charming generous woman was there to keep the deeply shocked Weimar scociety grounded and gradually give them back hope and strenght. She succeeded to do so with her vespertine tee salons, which were open to everyone once introduced to the circle, without invitation. This informal practice of social gathering for both sexes was new to Weimar and quickly well received.
With the help of the Stadtarchiv Weimar (city's archive) the exact place of this salon could be identified. From 1806 to 1813 Johanna Schopenhauer stayed at the house of court counselor Johanna Caroline Amalie Ludecus, whose pseudonym as writer was Amalie Berg, at the Esplanade, later Schillerstrasse No.10, only two houses away on the right from the Schillerhouse. Unfortunately the original building on the grounds of the former town's wall was replaced in 1896/97 by the Gewerbehaus, which today is seat of the District Craft Trades Association.
So far there's no place of commemoration of the once so highly estimated and famous Johanna Schopenhauer in Weimar; her grave is in Jena, the Schopenhauerstrasse dedicated to her son Arthur. It's time to pay tribute to this grand dame of Weimar with a commemrative plaque. The text would read as follows:
"Hier stand das Haus, in dem die Schriftstellerin Johanna Schopenhauer (1766-1838) von 1806 bis 1813 ihren berühmten Salon führte"
(translation: "Here's the place, where the famous writer Johanna Schopenhauer (1766-1838) held her salon (circle) from 1806 to 1813")
The price for the plaque is approx 1300 Euro. If you'd like to support the project of the Freundeskreis Goethe-Nationalmuseum e.V. for long due commemorative plaque, we'd kindly ask you to donate to:
Freundeskreis Goethe Nationalmuseum e.V. 
Sparkasse Mittelthüringen Erfurt
DE34 8205 1000 0365 0003 37 
BIC/SWIFT HELADEF1WEM
keyword: Schopenhauer

The Germab original Text: 
Spendenaufruf zu einer Gedenktafel für Johanna Schopenhauer in der Schillerstraße 
Die wohl berühmteste Tasse Tee Weimars wurde am 20.Oktober 1806 von der Saloniere Johanna Schopenhauer an Goethes frisch angetraute Gattin Christiane gereicht. Mit den unsterblichen Worten "ich dencke wenn Göthe ihr seinen Namen giebt können wir ihr wohl eine Tasse Thee geben", durchbrach sie die Mauer des Schweigens, mit der die Weimarer Gesellschaft die Lebensgefährtin Goethes bis dahin geächtet hatte.
Allein für diese ebenso große wie geistreich formulierte Geste verdient Johanna Schopenhauer (1766-1838) bis heute Hochachtung der Freunde Goethes und seiner Familie. Doch hatte die Schopenhauer durchaus noch andere Verdienste, die sie zu einer unentbehrlichen Persönlichkeit im "Klassischen Weimar" haben werden lassen. Nach den zweitägigen Plünderungen im Gefolge der verlorenen Schlacht bei Jena am 14.Oktober 1806 war die weitgereist-weltläufige, hochgebildet-redegewandte und charmant-großzügige Frau genau die Richtige, um der schockgelähmten Weimarer Gesellschaft zunächst Halt und nach und nach wieder neuen Mut zu geben. Dies gelang ihr durch Einrichtung abendlicher Teegesellschaften, in die sich jeder, sobald er in den geselligen Kreis einmal eingeführt war, ohne weitere Anmeldung einfinden konnte. Diese offene Form der Salongeselligkeit für beide Geschlechter war neu in Weimar und fand großen Anklang.
Mit Hilfe des Stadtarchivs Weimar konnte nun der genaue Ort des ersten und bedeutenden Salons der Schopenhauer ermittelt werden. Von 1806 bis 1813 wohnte sie im Haus der Hofrätin Johanna Caroline Amalie Ludecus, die sich als Schriftstellerin Amalie Berg nannte, in der Esplanade, später Schillerstraße Nummer 10, also nur zwei Häuser weiter rechts neben dem Schillerhaus. Allerdings ist das auf der alten Stadtmauer errichtete Gebäude 1896/97 durch das sogenannte Gewerbehaus ersetzt worden, in dem heute die Kreishandwerkschaft ihren Sitz hat.
Bisher gibt es in Weimar keinen Ort des Erinnerns an die einst so hoch geschätzte und weit über die Grenzen der Stadt hinaus bekannte Johanna Schopenhauer; ihre Grabstätte befindet sich in Jena, die Schopenhauerstraße meint ihren Sohn Arthur. Es ist an der Zeit, diese große Dame Weimars mit einer eigenen Gedenktafel zu ehren. Der Tafeltext könnte wie folgt lauten:
"Hier stand das Haus, in dem die Schriftstellerin Johann Schopenhauer (1766-1838) von 1806 bis 1813 ihren berühmten Salon führte"
Der Preis für eine Tafel mit diesem Text liegt bei ca. 1300 Euro. Wenn Sie dieses von zahlreichen Verehrerinnen und Verehrern in und außerhalb Weimars schon lange geforderten Vorhaben des Freundeskreises des Goethe-Nationalmuseums e.V. Weimar unterstützen möchten, bitten wir Sie herzlich um eine Spende auf folgendes Konto:
Freundeskreis Goethe Nationalmuseum e.V. 
Sparkasse Mittelthüringen Erfurt
DE34 8205 1000 0365 0003 37 
BIC/SWIFT HELADEF1WEM
Stichwort: Schopenhauer

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