The novel Agnes von Lilien by Caroline von Wolzogen, although celebrated during the period of Weimar Classicism, was not generally well known to English-speaking readers and researchers until recently. This project aims to address this situation by creating an easily accessible English translation of the novel complete with critical annotations for the benefit of researchers and lay readers alike. The annotated translation presented in this work is an excerpt of the full translation of the work drawn in particular from the first third of the novel. This novel, first published in 1798, reflects many ideals of the Enlightenment, as well as opinions on women's roles and women's education. In the introduction, I trace the way that the novel seeks to gently persuade the nobility and educated middle class to change the world around them. This is done through the ever-present contrasts filling its pages alongside the novel's emphasis on ideal possibilities. Rather than serving as a revolutionary critique, I assert that the story conveys a quiet call for a level of social reform that still assures the nobility their power while nevertheless challenging them to use that power for the betterment of society. Women are urged to extend their reach to the outer boundaries of womanhood rather than being content with the confinement imposed by traditional society. I conclude that the strength of Wolzogen's text and the trait that draws readers back even centuries later is the fact that, under the cloak of intrigue, adventure, and romance expected from the novel form, the ideals of the Enlightenment shine clearly. In spite of social and political changes over the past two centuries, the call to virtue, industry, reason, and self-improvement, regardless of gender or social class, still maintains its relevance and power for readers in the modern era.



College and Department

Humanities; Germanic and Slavic Languages



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Agnes von Lilien, Caroline von Wolzogen, Enlightenment, middle class values, women's literature, women's education, women's roles, translation, Weimar Classicism