Episode 3: “THE SALONNIÈRE”

“Where does this air current come from?” Byron asked Schlegel who was sitting next to him. “Oh, it’s Novalis’ ears. They’ve not stopped flapping since the lightning struck him.”

Apart from the hostess or the “salonnière”, a select group of intellectuals and writers were gathered in Johanna Schopenhauer’s salon. There were Lord Byron and Ludwig Tieck, but also Johanna’s daughter Adela, Bettina Brentano, Achim von Arnim, Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel and Goethe.

Goethe (whose fondness for eating onions is well known) was eating a raw onion. He had showed up at the party accompanied by his mistress, Christiane Vulpius, to the scandal of Bettina who, to demonstrate her vexation, began to pirouette.

Byron watched her stunned. He ignored that, among the major figures of German Romanticism, pirouette was the usual way to show anger. His amazement increased when he saw Christiane suddenly stand up and spin around like a spinning top. This attitude was the conventional reaction to an offense according to the manual of German Romantic’s idiosyncrasy (or “zeitgeist” as Hegel had defined it).

In order to divert attention from this unintelligible show, Byron brought up the subject of Arthur’s defenestration. This ignited a heated debate about the role that free will plays in the designs of Destiny. According to Schlegel, Destiny had decreed that Arthur Schopenhauer should be in good health in the immediate future. However, Arthur imposed his free will by jumping out the window. Novalis pointed out that this was the palpable demonstration that every human being had the final say with regard to his own destiny. Von Arnim agreed and reminded the participants that it had been Arthur’s idiotic act that had led them to such hopeful conclusion and suggested that they should go up to Arthur’s room to personally thank him. Except for a slight and temporary objection on the part of Mrs. Schopenhauer, all agreed with the suggestion. And, while Bettina and Christiane continued their bloodless duel in the living room, the others went up to the first floor to visit the patient.

Before entering the room everyone was ready to make no noise, because Arthur’s snores were heard from the stairs. They entered the room, therefore, stealthily, if only to check the condition of the patient. Arthur Schopenhauer was prostrate in his bed with his head bandaged and an arm immobilized by a cumbersome iron lattice. This arm was extended forward with the palm of the hand upwards, which motivated someone to suggest to Mrs. Schopenhauer that she read on the palm whether her son was going to recover soon, to which she agreed. After taking a look at the hand, she reassured them about it: the healing was close. Suddenly Arthur woke up.

-For Chrissakes, close the window! Don’t you see that there is an air current, boorish?!

-Novalis, please cover your ears. Have compassion on a poor wounded man.  

-Oh, I’m sorry.

Novalis obeyed immediately. But Arthur resumed the brawl:

-What are so many people doing here?! Is it market day?!

-Our friends have come to see you, Artie.

– Stop calling me Artie!

“How are you, boy?” Schlegel dared to say.

– Stop calling me “boy”!

-Your mother says that you will recover soon.

“What would she know?” Arthur grumbled.

Johanna didn’t arrive in time to stop Tieck’s response:

-She just read it in the palm of your hand.

-What?!

And shouting “Betrayal! Sabotage!” Arthur got out of bed and, before anyone could stop him, jumped out the window.

“He has done it again!”, Novalis shouted hysterically, while Byron remained petrified because of the impression:

-Good heavens! And people still say that we English Romantics have got a screw loose!

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/

I really appreciate it!

A salon

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