Friday, 8 March 2013

"Masculinity and femininity, as they are usually understood, are obstacles to humanity¹ [...] Only a gentle masculinity, only an autonomous femininity are right, true and beautiful. And if this is so, one must not further exaggerate the character of the sex in any way [...] but rather seek to soften it by means of counter-measures, so that everyone in what is proper to him or her, is able to find a space as boundless as possible in which to move freely, according to pleasure and love, in the entire sphere of humanity"

- Friedrich Schlegel (On Philosophy - To Dorothea. An open letter to Brendel Veit in Volume 2 (1) of his Athenaeum journal, 1799).

Picture: "Penthésilée – Pentesiléia" by Raul Ubac (1937).
(Penthesilea was the Amazon Queen who went to die in the Trojan war after killing Hippolyta)

1. This first part of the quote is widely attributed online to Karoline von Günderrode, pretty much wherever her name is mentioned, from Wikipedia onwards (ünderrode). Whilst the idea would no doubt fit her writing I can find no evidence in my books or online that she actually wrote it, and those that quote it do not indicate a source. I am certain, on the other hand, though that Schlegel committed the lines to paper in the place cited. I have a correction/query pending with Wikipedia etc but if anyone happens to have a better knowledge of Karoline von Günderrode's work and can set me straight then please do. Till then I am chalking it up as another in my win column in the battle of Me v Internet.

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