Letters and Notes by Jean Paul

The largest collection of autographs by the writer Jean Paul (actually Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, 1763-1825) is now on permanent loan from the Oberfrankenstiftung (Foundation of Upper Franconia) in the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg State Library). It includes letters and tickets that the Upper Franconian author addressed to Emanuel Osmund (1766 -1842). The Bayreuth-based merchant and banker Osmund was Jean Paul’s most important correspondent and closest soul mate. The poet appreciated the exchange about his work and about practical matters with the pious Orthodox Jew, who was firmly anchored in the cultural and spiritual life of his time.

The messages written in close succession between 1796 and 1825 are an impressive testimony to a romantic culture of letters and conviviality and, at the same time, an "expressive" document of German-Jewish companionship. Since Jean Paul did not consider letters to be a working document but part of his literary work and since he corresponded with Osmund almost daily, this collection, in its completeness, is of the greatest literary and cultural-historical value.

It contains 1,108 letters and notes by Jean Paul’s hand to Emanuel Osmund, as well as 73 autographs by people from within the writer’s circle.

The lawyer and notary Dr. Franz Ulrich Apelt (1882-1944) from Zittau, Saxony, bought the large lot of papers from Emanuel Osmund’s great-grandson in 1921 and thus saved it from the planned auction, which would certainly have led to its dispersal. In the 1970s, when the expropriation of the valuable collection by the GDR government was to be feared, the heirs of Franz Apelt succeeded in bringing the autographs to the Federal Republic of Germany and thereby saved them from the renewed danger of dispersal.

>> This collection is part of the holdings of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg State Library).