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The Case of LiteratureForensic Narratives from Goethe to Kafka$
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Arne Höcker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749353

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749353.001.0001

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Schmolling, Hoffmann, Hitzig, and the Problem of Legal Responsibility

Schmolling, Hoffmann, Hitzig, and the Problem of Legal Responsibility

(p.99) 5 Schmolling, Hoffmann, Hitzig, and the Problem of Legal Responsibility
The Case of Literature

Arne Höcker

Cornell University Press

This chapter details E. T. A. Hoffmann's involvement in the criminal case of Daniel Schmolling. In 1825, Julius Eduard Hitzig posthumously blamed his colleague and friend, the Romantic author and appellate court judge E. T. A. Hoffmann, for having been led by his poetic drive to overstep his legal competence in a criminal case that had been heard at the Berlin court a few years earlier. Only a footnote added by Hitzig to the publication of the proceedings from the murder case of Daniel Schmolling revealed Hoffmann's involvement in the case and his co-authorship of one of the deciding legal documents. It is because of this footnote and its revelation of authorship that the Schmolling case has attracted the attention of literary scholars and led them to look for intersections between Hoffmann's legal writings and his literary works. Through his legal involvement in the Schmolling case, Hoffmann develops a literary-philosophical perspective that informs his poetic program known as the Serapiontic principle, in which literature claims a position beyond the confines of reason.

Keywords:   E. T. A. Hoffmann, criminal case, Daniel Schmolling, Julius Eduard Hitzig, authorship, legal writings, literary works, Serapiontic principle, literature

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