The walk under the linden trees

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Cover of the literary magazine in which The Walk under the Linden trees appeared

The walk under the lime trees is the title of a dialogue between two friends about the optimistic and pessimistic aspect of life, most likely written by Friedrich Schiller and published in 1782 .


In the introduction of the approx. Five-page text, the narrator introduces the two speakers: Edwin, who seeks to enjoy “the world with happy warmth”, whereas the “cloudy” Wollmar only perceives the “mournful color of his misfortune”. Both live secluded in a "hermitage" far from the "noise of the busy world" and discuss the duality of the world in their favorite place, an "Allee von Linden" .

Wollmar tries to substantiate his view with many pictures of the course of the day and year in nature, e.g. B. flowering and wilting plants. For him the world is a field of putrefaction. In all living things he sees traces of the past: “The infinite round” means for him “the tomb of the ancestors”. He compares nature with a “discarded matron” who paints her “green-yellow cheeks” with “make-up made from the bones of her own children”. She is a "monster that fats itself from its own excrement, warmed up many times,".

Edwin reacts to the friend's observations by classifying them as "comical scenes" and caricaturing his examples. For him, life consists of transformation, of the eternal cycle of dying and becoming, of persistence and further development. Wollmar is blind to this aspect: “How? if our bodies wandered according to these very laws, as is said of our spirits? How after the death of the machine [ie the human organism] they would have to continue the office which they administered under the orders of the soul ”.

Wollmar replies that Edwin is covering up the serious problem with a “smiling joke”, similar to what is customary in the superficial and pleasure-seeking society of “princes” and “beauties”, “those with a twitching eyelash” or “a colored landscape on their faces our wisdom becomes a fool want to do ". He illustrates his gloomy view of the world with the motif of the sea voyage to the “happy island”, taken from literature and philosophy, to get the “golden fleece”. He differentiates between three groups, first of all the large part of the population: their fleet romps forever “along the bank”, “in the courtyards of their destination”. The crew struggles forever, fetching provisions, mending the sails and “never steers up to sea level for ages. They are those who tire themselves out today so that they can tire themselves out again tomorrow. ”The second, smaller group includes those who enjoy and spend their heritage, who“ the vortex of sensuality is tearing into an inglorious grave ”. The rest of the quarter, the inquisitive, sails “[b] ang and shy [...] without a compass in the company of the deceiving stars on the terrible ocean. […] Land calls the helmsman, and […] a wretched board bursts, the leaky ship sinks hard on the shore. "

Edwins accentuates the trip differently: “[W] hen she misses the island, the journey is not lost. […] Shouldn't I break the flower because tomorrow it won't smell anymore? I throw it away when it is wilted and pick its young sister, who is already breaking out of the bud. [...] Wollmar, my Juliette kissed this linden tree for the first time. "

Wollmar has the last word of the dialogue: “Young man! I lost my Laura under this linden tree. "

Classification and interpretation

The walk under the lime trees appeared in 1782 in the Wirtemberg repertory of literature published by Schiller . The text signed with K. was not mentioned anywhere else. However, “[a] n of the authorship is Schs. […] No doubt about style and content ”.

More recent research interprets the dialogue of the melancholy Wollmar with the easy-going Edwin in connection with Schiller's philosophical texts such as the Philosophical Letters and the short stories as a reference to Schiller's double worldview in the late phase of the Enlightenment, in which he “as Crossing the border of the classic ”critically questions the optimistic worldview and the“ abstract ideals ”of the beginning. Wollmar's complaint about the course of life and the state of the world as a "discourse of Enlightenment criticism" and the "change in the bourgeois self-image" fits this interpretation.


  • Wirtemberg Repertory of Literature, 1st part, 1782.
  • Work editions

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Fricke, Herbert Göpfert, Herbert Stubenrauch (eds.): Complete works. Based on the original prints . Five volumes, Hanser Verlag Munich, 1967. Fifth volume of stories / theoretical writings . Appendix p. 1091.
  2. ^ Michael Hofmann and other authors. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Ed.): Friedrich Schiller . Text + criticism Sonderband. edition text & kritik, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-88377-788-7 .
  3. Gert Vonhoff: The power of relationships. Schiller's stories . In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Ed.): Friedrich Schiller . Text + criticism Sonderband. edition text & kritik, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-88377-788-7 .