Sophie Mereau

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Sophie Mereau

Sophie Friederike Mereau (born March 27, 1770 in Altenburg , † October 31, 1806 in Heidelberg ; born Schubart , remarried Brentano ) was a German Romantic writer .


Sophie Schubart was the daughter of the ducal-Saxon chief tax accountant Gotthelf Heinrich Schubart (died 1791) and his wife Johanna Sophie Friederike, née Gabler (died 1786). The daughters Sophie and Henriette received good linguistic and musical training; Henriette Schubart was later a well-known translator.

Although Sophie Schubart had great reservations about the marriage, she married the Jena librarian and law professor Friedrich Ernst Carl Mereau , with whom she had been friends since 1787, for economic reasons . With him she had a son, Gustav, and a daughter, Hulda. The Mereaus lived in Jena , where Sophie met Friedrich Schiller through her husband . As early as 1791 she published her first poems in Schiller's Thalia . In addition to Schiller, Jean Paul , Johann Gottfried Herder , Friedrich and Ludwig Tieck , Johann Gottlieb Fichte , Friedrich Schelling and August Wilhelm , Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel also frequented the Mereau's house .

Schiller recognized her talent ("I must really be amazed how our women now, in a merely amateurish way, know how to acquire a certain writing skill that comes close to art."). He promoted them by reprinting their poems in his magazine Die Horen and in his Musenalmanach . Schiller also advised her on questions of aesthetic taste and the choice of genre. Her poetry corresponded to the idea that Schiller had of nature poetry. In her poems, Sophie Mereau submitted to Schiller's command to symbolize. For Sophie Schiller was also an important confidante. She revealed a lot about her marriage to him, and Schiller was always mediating and mediating. As far as nature was concerned, Sophie and Friedrich Schiller were similar. Both had a tremendous need for freedom.

Although professionally successful, Sophie Mereau was not happy in her marriage. She wanted to live the ideals of romance, longed for love and freedom. She had several affairs, including with Johann Heinrich Kipp , Friedrich Schlegel and Clemens Brentano . After the death of her six-year-old son Gustav in 1800, she lived separately from her husband and then divorced in 1801 in the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar . This is commonly considered to be the first divorce in the duchy. Civil law files of the Jena Schöppenstuhl indicate, however, that divorces were carried out in Sachsen-Weimar before 1800.

Together with her daughter, who unusually and kindly left her Mereau, she built a new life for herself in Camburg . She was able to live from her literary work, so she was financially independent. However, when she became pregnant by Clemens Brentano, she married him in 1803. Brentano's jealousy and possessive nature made her feel restricted for a while. Sophie wrote to a friend that living with Clemens contained heaven and hell, but hell was predominant. The couple first lived briefly in Marburg and again in Jena, then from 1804 in Heidelberg.

At the end of 1805, Sophie Brentano had a miscarriage with her fifth child and fell ill as a result. She died in 1806 at the age of 36 giving birth to her sixth child. All three children with Brentano died before her. She was buried in Heidelberg in the poor cemetery of St. Anna's Church.


Silhouette (around 1795)

Sophie Mereau has published various stories and essays, poems and two novels. Furthermore, she was the editor of several almanacs and from 1802 the women's magazine Kalathiskos , which ceased its publication after only two years. At Schiller's order, she translated texts by de Staël from French. She also produced other translations and arrangements from French, English and Italian, such as the translation of Giovanni Boccaccio's Fiammetta from Italian and passages from the Lettres Persanes , The Princess of Clèves or Corneilles Cid from French.

In her two novels, she first stood up for the right of women to freely choose a love and partner; in the second, she described a wife's attempt to resolve her toe of convenience. So both have autobiographical traits:

  • 1794 - The flowering age of sensation (Gotha, Justus Perthes ' publishing house)
  • 1803 - Amanda and Eduard

Sophie Mereau also wrote short stories. Above all, the short story Marie also contains biographical features, or it can be easily compared with Sophie Mereau's life.

  • 1798 - Marie
  • 1800 - Elise
  • 1806 - escape to the capital

The following new editions of Mereau's writings are available:

Her translations are:

  • Giovanni Boccaccio: Fiammetta , trans. by Sophie Brentano, Insel-Verlag, 1982.


  • Julia Augart: A romantic love in letters. On the concept of love in the correspondence between Sophie Mereau and Clemens Brentano. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2006, ISBN 3-8260-3053-2 .
  • Anja Dechant: Harmony created our love, imagination raised it to enthusiasm and reason sanctified it with the seal of truth - the correspondence between Sophie Mereau and Johann Heinrich Kipp. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1996.
  • Konrad Feilchenfeldt:  Mereau, Sophie, née Schubart. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 17, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-428-00198-2 , p. 129 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Dagmar von Gersdorff : I cannot unlearn to love you. The life of Sophie Brentano-Mereau. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-458-14182-0 .
  • Katharina von Hammerstein: Sophie Mereau-Brentano. Freedom - love - femininity: tricolor of social and individual self-determination around 1800. Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 1994, ISBN 3-8253-0183-4 .
  • Britta Hannemann: World literature for citizens' daughters. The translator Sophie Mereau-Brentano. Wallstein, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-896-5 .
  • Hermann Hettner:  Mereau, Sophie (1st article) . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1876, p. 313.
  • Gisela Horn: This conditional freedom cannot be enough for me. Women of the Jena Romanticism . Jena 2013, ISBN 978-3-00-043496-9 .
  • Daniel Jacoby:  Mereau, Sophie (2nd article) . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1885, p. 420 f.
  • Claudia Priebe: “Only expect fragments from me.” The constitution of the subject in Sophie Mereau's novels . The Blue Owl, Essen 2015, ISBN 978-3-89924-391-8 .
  • Lucia Sabová: Problems of female identity in the stories of Sophie Mereau . Logos-Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-8325-3019-8 .

Web links

Commons : Sophie Mereau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Sophie Mereau  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Gisela Brinker-Gabler, Karola Ludwig, Angela Wöffen: Lexicon of German-speaking women writers 1800–1945. dtv Munich, 1986. ISBN 3-423-03282-0 . P. 216ff
  2. ^ Albert TeichmannMereau, Friedrich Ernst Karl . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1885, p. 419 f.
  3. See Friedrich Schiller (ed.): Musenalmanach for the year 1798. Cottasche Buchhandlung, Tübingen, pp. 100, 216, 292.
  4. ^ Bettina Bremer, Angelika Schneider: Sophie Mereau Brentano. In: thought leaders. Ten extraordinary pictures of life, 1999.
  5. ^ Fiammetta in the Gutenberg-DE project