It’s pretty sophisticated.
October 1825 saw the publication of a romance called “Der Mann im Mond” – The Man in the Moon. The author was billed as one H. Clauren. That was actually the pen name of Carl Heun, a privy councillor in Berlin – an extremely well-known and popular writer of – how to put this – trashy romantic novels.
Wilhelm Hauff appropriated the pen name by publishing his novella “Man in the Moon” under the name H. Clauren. It’s actually a pastiche of a light novel – and at the same time perhaps the best light novel ever written.
The book was a hit. It caused a great sensation, or rather, a major literary scandal. Because Carl Heun took Hauff’s publisher to court and accused him of deceiving the public.
You ask how the court case about that book is going. It’s going well and badly. There is nothing for me to do, but all the more for my publisher. Privy councillor Heun has taken him to court, without the slightest hesitation. And sued him for 5,000 thalers in compensation. Of course, there were two things to consider before applying punishment. Firstly, whether H. Clauren was a wholly assumed name, and secondly, given that reprinting Clauren’s writings is actually permitted in Württemberg, how unlikely is it that weaving one’s own fabrication from his crowd-pleasing verbiage should be forbidden.”
The lawsuit was not detrimental to the book – or to its author. Quite the contrary – although the publisher was sentenced to a fine of 50 Reich thalers and had to pay legal costs. But the perceived scandal turned young Wilhelm Hauff into a celebrity over night. He’d made his breakthrough as a writer.
And he’d caught the eye of the publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta in Stuttgart. Cotta offered Wilhelm Hauff a job as editor at the “Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände” – the “Morning Paper for the Educated Classes”. What an honour for the young writer! After all, Cotta was the publisher of Goethe, Schiller and Herder – and the “Morgenblatt” was one of the most important and prestigious papers of the day.
As to adopting writing as a profession, that was a conclusion to which I came when I discovered in myself an instinctive dislike for theology – while also finding the power to accomplish enough to prevent my having to leave the field in humiliation. The essential requirement was that very “effrontery” for which a number of you censured me, or that self-confidence, in combination with quite some vanity, which had, in the past, helped me to overcome several serious hurdles.
Foto: © Wilhelm-Hauff-Museum