Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sophie Mereau: Lady of Letters

Sophie Mereau (Sophie Friederike Schubart; Altenburg, Germany, 27th March 1770 - Heidelberg, Germany, 31st October 1806)


Sophie Mereau


Today we welcome a most remarkable lady to the salon. Writer, translator and free-thinker, Sophie Mereau lived a passionate and tragic life, searching for personal happiness even as her professional achievements flourished.

Mereau enjoyed an exceptionally good education and was the only woman to study in the seminars held by Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Fichte had an enormous influence on her writing yet she was not afraid to disagree with him and discussed differences in their approaches in writing.

In 1793 Sophie married law professor, Carl Friedrich Ernst Mereau, whose surname she used in her writing and with whom she would have two children who survived infancy. It was through her husband that Mereau met Friedrich Schiller and he encouraged her poetry and published her work in a number of journals and almanacks. Under Schiller's guidance she flourished as a poet and writer and published her first novels, as well as translating European works and publishing journals and almanacs. She was one of the most well-known figures in the literary life of the city of Jena where she and her husband made their home and she was particularly popular with the students who were tutored by Carl, some of whom became more than friends.

Whilst her career flourished, Mereau began to feel dissatisfied in her marriage as she longed for a grand and passionate romance and she embarked on numerous affairs, none of which satisfied her longings and in defiance of convention she travelled with her lovers, making no attempt to hide the scandalous relationships she enjoyed. When her little boy, Gustav, died, Sophie sought a divorce from her husband and he agreed, apparently without any animosity. Mereau took her daughter and left the marital home, her writings leaving her with more than enough money to support herself.

Mereau embarked on a passionate and volatile affair with poet and novelist Clemens Brentano but when she fell pregnant by him in 1803, the couple were married and Mereau began to withdraw from the public eye somewhat. In fact the relationship continued to be fiery even after marriage but, following a number of traumatic miscarriages, the couple grew closer. Sadly, Mereau was not to live to enjoy this new-found harmony and died whilst delivering a stillborn child in 1806.

13 comments:

Julian Rixon said...

Gosh! Such an active life in such a short time. When you spoke of a romance in 1803 I had to go back to check the date of her marriage! And then to die so young having only just found a semblance of harmony in her relationship.

Madame Gilflurt said...

She did live a most eventful life; there is almost an inevitability about her unhappy fate.

Anonymous said...

How i wish to read her letters in english where i could in free? thanks

Madame Gilflurt said...

I'm afraid I haven't been able to find her works online in an English translation. If I do, I will post the link here!

Anonymous said...

Coulld you recommend me if it not hard for you of 18th century letters or diaries or journals of young lady
thank you for a great site

Madame Gilflurt said...

This is an excellent site for the diaries of ladies from other eras, I hope it helps! http://www.aisling.net/journaling/old-diaries-online.htm

I also recommend Fanny Burney's diaries or Fanny Murray's scandalous memoirs and Wikipedia has a list of diarists and links to online sites where the works can be read!

Anonymous said...

which site read Fanny Murray's memoirs ?
could you recommend of more sites that only 18th 19th century that only diaries from England?
thank you very much

Madame Gilflurt said...

I'm afraid I don't know of any specific sites listing diaries of that type but a Google search for 18th century diaries brings up lots of online texts that might be of interest so that's my recommendation. Fanny Murray's diaries may be on Project Gutenberg or similar but I've read a print copy as opposed to an ebook.

Anonymous said...

only if you could please find me the Fanny Murray's memoirs
thank you very very much

Madame Gilflurt said...

I'm afraid it seems you'd have to try and pick up a print copy, I haven't found them online.

Anonymous said...

thank you again only one question could tell where i buy the copy in cheap?

Madame Gilflurt said...

Perhaps Abebooks, though whether it would be cheap, I don't know!

Anonymous said...

thank you