August Klingemann

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Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann (Bonaventure)

Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann (born August 31, 1777 in Braunschweig ; † January 25, 1831 ibid) was a German romantic writer and theater director. According to recent research, he is the author of the famous novel The Night Watch (1804), published under the pseudonym "Bonaventure" and therefore commonly known as The Night Watch of Bonaventure .


Klingemann's grave

Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann, son of a copyist, was born in Braunschweig in 1777. Early on he developed an interest in the theater that would last his entire life. After successfully completing his school education at the Collegium Carolinum in Braunschweig, Klingemann went to Jena in 1798 , where he studied law and philosophy. There he heard u. a. Lectures by Johann Gottlieb Fichte , Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and August Wilhelm Schlegel and made friends with Clemens Brentano .

Street sign in Braunschweig in memory of Ernst Friedrich August Klingemann

In 1801 he broke off his studies and went back to Braunschweig, where he took part in the editing of the newspaper for the elegant world . In 1810 he married Elise Anschütz , who was an actress in the "Walther Society". Klingemann became chief director of this company in the same year. From 1818 he was director of the Braunschweig National Theater , which emerged from the "Walther Society". At this theater, Klingemann brought Goethe's Faust I into a version suitable for the theater, which he had performed for the first time as a director on January 19, 1829. In the same year Klingemann accepted a professorship at his old school, the Collegium Carolinum. Just one year later, however, he was again director of the theater, which since 1826 had been called the "Ducal Court Theater". Klingemann died the following year. His grave is in the cathedral cemetery in Braunschweig. In his hometown a street in the eastern ring area is named after him.

The night watch of Bonaventure

The authorship of the novel Nachtwachen was disputed for over a century. German studies has at times ascribed the work to Clemens Brentano , ETA Hoffmann , Karl Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel and Caroline Schelling , among others . In his “Reminiscences and Licenses” for his Gianozzo , Jean Paul suspected that Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling was behind the work. Today, based on the research of Jost Schillemeits and Horst Fleig, one assumes with great certainty that Klingemann wrote the novel. In 1987 Ruth Haag published the article once again: The author of the night watch of Bonaventure in the magazine Euphorion and reported on a special find. In a collection of manuscripts at the University of Amsterdam she found a list of Klingemann's publications in which he noted in handwriting “Nachtwachen. Penig. Servant . 1804 ”and thus calls the night watch his own.


Theater ticket for the world premiere of Goethe's “Faust I” in the Braunschweiger Hof-Theater on January 19, 1829.

Klingemann wrote many novels and dramas that were written in the spirit of romanticism and were very popular at the time. For a time he was one of the most played theater writers in Germany.


  • Wildgraf Eckard von der Wölpe (Braunschweig 1795)
  • The ruins in the Schwarzwalde (2 volumes, Braunschweig 1798/99)
  • Romano (2 volumes, Braunschweig 1800/01)
  • Albano, the lute player (Leipzig 1802)
  • Night watch. Von Bonaventura (Penig 1804) ( digitized and full text in the German text archive and librivox )


  • Ancestral pride. Comedy in five acts to Cramer (Braunschweig 1795) [new edition (with an afterword by Manuel Zink) Hannover 2012, ISBN 978-3-86525-274-6 ]
  • The Asseburg. Historical-romantic painting (2 volumes, Braunschweig 1796/97)
  • The mask (Braunschweig 1797)
  • Misstep from enthusiasm. Comedy in one act (Braunschweig 1797) ( digitized version )
  • Sense of self. A character painting in five acts (Braunschweig 1800) [new edition (with an afterword by Manuel Zink) Hannover 2013, ISBN 978-3-86525-350-7 ]
  • The Swiss Federation (2 volumes, Leipzig 1804/05)
  • Frankness. A ... stupid competitor for Mr. Kotzebue exposed prize for the best comedy (Lüneburg 1804)
  • The Lazzaroni or The Beggar of Naples (Hamburg 1805)
  • Heinrich von Wolfenschießen (Leipzig 1806)
  • Columbus (Stuttgart / Tübingen 1808)
  • Heinrich der Löwe (Stuttgart / Tübingen 1808) [new edition (with an afterword by Eberhard Rohse ) Braunschweig 1996 (writings of the Braunschweig Literary Association, vol. 43)]
  • Cromwell (Stuttgart / Tübingen 1811)
  • Moses. A dramatic poem (Helmstedt 1812)
  • Schill or the Declamatorium in Krähwinkel . Posse (Helmstedt 1812)
  • Faust (Leipzig 1815) (Premiere April 26, 1812 Königsberg; Music: Friedr. Adam Hiller)
  • Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Dramatic play with singing (Leipzig 1815)
  • German loyalty (Helmstedt 1816)
  • The pit to Dorothea (Helmstedt 1817)
  • The Cross in the North (Braunschweig 1818)
  • Ferdinand Cortez, or: the conquest of Mexico (Braunschweig 1818)
  • The widow of Ephesus comedy in one act (Vienna 1818) ( digitized version )
  • The Falkenstein. Drama in One Act (Braunschweig 1822; first performance 1821) ( digitized version )
  • Ahasver (Brunswick 1827)
  • Melpomene . Contains the dramas: The bride of Cynast and Bianca di Sepolcro (Braunschweig 1830)

Literature and art theory writings (selection)

  • Memnon. A magazine (Leipzig 1800)
  • What principles must a theater management guide when selecting the plays to be performed? (Leipzig 1802)
  • About Schiller's tragedy: The Maid of Orleans (Leipzig 1802)
  • About the romantic tragedy (Stuttgart / Tübingen 1808)
  • Lectures for actors (Helmstedt 1818)
  • About the spirit of tragic art (Stuttgart / Tübingen 1820)
  • Art and nature. Sheets from my travel diary (3 volumes, Braunschweig 1819, 1821, 1828)
  • General German theater almanac for the year 1822 (Braunschweig 1822)
  • Theater writings (with an afterword by Alexander Košenina, Hannover 2012, ISBN 978-3-86525-273-9 )


  • August Klingemann. Correspondence (edited by Alexander Košenina and Manuel Zink, Göttingen 2018)



  • Lothar Baus: Goethe's “shadow marriage” with Charlotte von Stein. The real parents of the romantic poet and theater director August Klingemann (1777–1831) . Asclepius Edition, Homburg 2001, ISBN 3-935288-06-9 .
  • Hugo Burath: August Klingemann and German Romanticism . Vieweg Verlag, Braunschweig 1948 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Horst Fleig: Literary Vampirism. Klingemann's "Night Watch of Bonaventura" . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1985, ISBN 3-484-18083-8 .
  • Nils Gelker / Manuel Zink (ed.): "Masters in the art of amalgamation". Studies on August Klingemann's work , Wehrhahn, Hannover 2020, ISBN 978-3-86525-782-6 .
  • Jost Schillemeit: Bonaventura, the author of the "Night Watch" . Beck, Munich 1973, ISBN 3-406-04972-9 .
  • Jost Schillemeit (ed.): Night watch of Bonaventura . Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1991, ISBN 3-458-31789-9 .
  • August Klingemann: Night watch of Bonaventura. Frankness. ed. by Jost Schillemeit. Wallstein Publishing House. Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8353-0831-2 .
  • Manfred Engel : In search of the positive. The criticism of subjectivism and the romantic form of a novel in Klingemann's “Night Watch” and Immermann's “Münchhausen”. In: Günter Blamberger u. a. (Ed.): Studies on the literature of early realism. Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1991, ISBN 3-631-43270-4 , pp. 17-44.
  • Horst Fleig: Shattered Identity. Klingemann - Night Watch of Bonaventura (1973). The typescript appeared in 1974 as an addition to: Horst Fleig: Sich failendes Erzenken (Fontane) (Göppinger Contributions to German Studies; Vol. 145). Kümmerle Verlag, Göppingen 1974
  • Ruth Haag: Again. The author of the "Night Watch of Bonaventure", 1804 . In: Euphorion , Vol. 81 (1987)
  • Jürgen Peters: August Klingemann, “Just keep dancing, you larvae” . In: Ders .: Of poet princes and other poets. Small history of literature in Lower Saxony, vol. 1 . Revonnah-Verlag, Hannover 1993, ISBN 3-927715-29-8 , pp. 211-217.
  • Joseph KürschnerKlingemann, August . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, pp. 187-189.
  • Eberhard Rohse : Chiavenna in Braunschweig. August Heinrich Klingemann's "Heinrich the Lion" between historicity, patriotism and tragic art. In: August Klingemann: Heinrich the Lion. A historical tragedy in five acts (1808). Edited and with an afterword by Eberhard Rohse. Braunschweig 1996 (= Writings of the Braunschweig Literary Association, Vol. 43), pp. 92–147.
  • Jost Schillemeit:  Klingemann, August. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , p. 78 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Sven Hanuschek: [Article] Ernst August Klingemann. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon . 3rd, completely revised edition. 18 vol. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , Vol. 9, pp. 164f. [Biogram, article on the Bonaventure Night Watch ].

Web links

Wikisource: August Klingemann  - Sources and full texts