“But all for science!” – Theodor Aufrecht in the Light of His Correspondence as Cataloguer of the Leipzig Sanskrit Manuscripts

Von Anett Krause

One of the most important cataloguers of Sanskrit manuscripts in the 19th century was Theodor Aufrecht (1821–1907), professor of Sanskrit and comparative linguistics at the University of Bonn. Among other essential catalogues, he compiled the monumental three-volume “Catalogus Catalogorum”.1 There he listed all the Sanskrit manuscripts known in Europe and India at that time by author and title, thus facilitating access to the manuscripts for Indological research. In this article I give an insight into his work on the catalogue of the Leipzig Sanskrit manuscripts2 based on a selection of his correspondence available so far.

Ill. 1: Theodor Aufrecht (Source: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q68006).3

These are nine letters and postcards from Aufrecht to the Leipzig professor of Sanskrit and comparative linguistics Ernst Windisch (1844–1918), which are kept in the Leipzig University Archive (LUA). I was also able to analyse nine letters and drafts relating to the cataloguing work preserved at the archives of the Leipzig University Library (LUL). Unfortunately, there is no correspondence in his estate at the Bonn University and State Library.4

The beginning

Aufrecht and Windisch had already corresponded for some time, as the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (DMG, German Oriental Society) was the publisher of Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum and Windisch supervised Aufrecht’s work in his capacity as editor of the DMG journal.5

In a letter to Windisch, in which the Leipzig manuscripts are mentioned for the first time, Aufrecht casually asked whether the Leipzig University Library held original Indian manuscripts rather than copies.6 Windisch apparently informed him that there were indeed Sanskrit manuscripts in the LUL collection. In his next letter to Windisch, Aufrecht offered to help him compile a short catalogue of the Leipzig manuscripts. He asked if it would be possible to lend him the manuscripts in Bonn. Furthermore, he wrote that he could catalogue 400 manuscripts in four weeks, as he was used to working with manuscripts.7

Windisch discussed the matter with the director of the Leipzig University Library, Oskar von Gebhardt (1844–1906), and then wrote to Aufrecht that he would be welcomed as a cataloguer. Although he could not be paid for his work, the library would finance printing of the catalogue. Windisch would also be willing to provide his preparatory work for the catalogue in the form of a card catalogue, so that his efforts would not have been completely in vain.8 Some time ago, he had begun to catalogue these manuscripts, but had to interrupt his work due to lack of time.9

Aufrecht’s journeys to the manuscripts in Leipzig

In the spring of 1896, Aufrecht announced that he and his wife would be travelling to Leipzig to catalogue the manuscripts. He asked whether the library had the necessary literature and expected to be given a free hand in cataloguing. He also described the work on the manuscripts as not particularly interesting and complained that he has even to pay for it.10 When he finally arrived in Leipzig on Easter Monday, the first thing Aufrecht did was paying a visit to Windisch.11 Aufrecht stayed for several weeks in Leipzig, but was nevertheless unable to complete the work.

Ill. 2: Leipzig University Library, Bibliotheca Albertina ca. 1910 (Source „Geschichte der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig 1543-2009“).

However, he had to travel to Leipzig for a second time – from early August to mid-September of the same year – but again he was unable to achieve his goal. Gebhardt did not expect the ‘old scholar’ to travel to Leipzig a third time and asked the Ministerium des Cultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts (Ministry of Cultus and Public Education) in Dresden to allow him to send some of the ‘Sanskrit and Jaina manuscripts’ to Aufrecht in Bonn for cataloguing.12

In December of the same year, Aufrecht reported to Windisch that he has forgotten to describe a manuscript and asked him to look for the manuscript – they are arranged in alphabetical order – and enquired whether it could be sent to him in Bonn for processing. He also wrote that he would regret not being able to look through all the manuscripts again before the print.13

The manuscripts journey to Aufrecht in Bonn

Finally, the manuscripts were sent to the Bonn University Library with the request that they be handed over in parts to Aufrecht for use in his apartment. They were then to be sent back to Leipzig with an insurance policy for 1500 marks.14 Another consignment was sent to Bonn in January 1897.15 Sending entire collections of manuscripts for cataloguing was not uncommon at that time, as the example of the Arabist Wilhelm Ahlwardt (1828–1909) shows. The Arabic manuscripts in the Berlin collection were sent to him in Greifswald by stagecoach or railway.16

In the spring of 1898, Aufrecht enquired Windisch about the acquisition of a collection of new manuscripts.17 In Aufrecht’s view, the negotiations were dragging on. He was awaiting a decision on the matter, as he wanted to include the new manuscripts in the catalogue if the purchase went finally ahead. He also asked the list to be sent to him so that he could get an overview.18 Windisch also helped Aufrecht with the cataloguing, by going to the library to look at manuscripts and answering Aufrecht’s questions about details of manuscripts already catalogued.19

At the end of September 1899, when Aufrecht had finally completed his work, he sent a handwritten copy of his catalogue of the Sanskrit manuscripts to Leipzig so that the catalogue could be printed.20 He also asked Gebhardt to send him the manuscripts of the last collection so that he could check a few things.17 The index was already completed in the form of slips of paper, but the numbers could only be inserted during printing.21

Gebhardt replied that he could send the manuscripts again to Bonn if the administration of the Bonn University Library agreed.22 The head librarian of the university library, Karl Schaarschmidt (1822–1908), agreed, but was unwilling to take responsibility for a complete return. Some of the bundles were very small and could not be checked for completeness. He therefore kept them in a special room where Aufrecht could work on the manuscripts.23

Ill. 3: Letter from Theodor Aufrecht to Oskar von Gebhardt, 14 October 1899 (Source: LUL, Archives 324.)

At the beginning of December 1899, Gebhardt sent three boxes of Sanskrit manuscripts to Bonn, listing their numbers so that Aufrecht could check them again before printing.24

End of the correspondence

In July 1901, after having finished the printing of the catalogue, Aufrecht sent Windisch a copy of his catalogue of the Leipzig manuscripts.25 Aufrecht wrote his last preserved letter to Windisch six months later, presumably to obtain financial support for the printing of the third volume of his Catalogus Catalogorum. He suggested that Gebhardt could approach the Saxon government to raise money. After all, his stays in Leipzig to catalogue the manuscripts had cost him at least 1200 marks.26 Unfortunately, we do not know whether Gebhardt supported Aufrecht’s project.

This correspondence gives a very lively insight into the work of cataloguing at the end of the 19th century. It was very tedious and costly for the cataloguer. However, everyone tried to support the work as best they could. Soon, the metadata of the Leipzig Sanskrit manuscripts and the Munich collection described by Aufrecht27 will be available in the “Qalamos” portal. This will make it even easier for those interested in Sanskrit to harvest the fruits of his painstaking work.

Literature

Aufrecht, Theodor: Catalogus catalogorum. An alphabetical register of Sanskrit works and authors. 1–3. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1891–1903.

Aufrecht, Theodor: Katalog der Sanskrit-Handschriften der Universitäts-Bibliothek zu Leipzig. Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1901.

Aufrecht, Theodor: Die Sanskrit-Handschriften der K. Hof- und Staatsbibliothek in München. München: Palm, 1909.

Krause, Anett: Die Jaina-Handschriften und weitere indische Handschriften in den Sprachen Avadhi, Bengali, Braj, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Prakrit, Sanskrit sowie die tibetischen Handschriften und Blockdrucke der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (A 402, A 1500 – A 1502, K 1 – K 171, Ms Gabelentz 97:3,4,6,7,21). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013.

Rau, Wilhelm: Bilder 135 deutscher Indologen. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1982.

Wollina, Torsten: “Zehn Bände Intertextualität: Der Ahlwardt-Katalog für die arabischen Handschriften in Berlin,” in Alte Kataloge in neuem Gewand. Blog des DFG-Projekts Orient-Digital, 27/11/2020, https://od-portal.hypotheses.org/68.

Letters:

Aufrecht to Gebhardt, 30 September 1899, LUL, Archives 324.

Aufrecht to Gebhardt, 14 October 1899, LUL, Archives 324.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 24 December 1895, LUA, NA Windisch, 2.13.10.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 27. December 1895, LUA, NA Windisch, 2.13.11.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 23 March 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.12.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 28 March 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.13.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 7 December 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.15.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 29 April 1898, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.16.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 13. May 1898, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.17.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 17. July 1901, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.19.

Aufrecht to Windisch, 06. January 1902, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.20.

Gebhardt to Aufrecht, 13. October 1899, LUL, Archives 438.

Gebhardt to Ministry of Cultus and Public Education, September 1896, LUL, Archives 430.

Gebhardt to the Bonn University Library, 16 September 1896, LUL, Archives 434.

Gebhardt to the Bonn University Library, 16 January 1897, LUL, Archives 436.

Gebhardt to Schaarschmidt, 06. December 1899, LUL, Archives 438.

Schaarschmidt to Gebhardt, 23. October 1899, LUL, Archives 324. Windisch to Gebhardt, 23. March 1896, LUL, Archives 329.



Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Anett Krause (2024, 23. Februar). “But all for science!” – Theodor Aufrecht in the Light of His Correspondence as Cataloguer of the Leipzig Sanskrit Manuscripts. Alte Kataloge in neuem Gewand. Abgerufen am 21. April 2024, von https://doi.org/10.58079/vw6x

  1. Aufrecht 1891–1903. []
  2. Aufrecht 1901. With the statement “But all for science!” in German “Indessen alles für die Wissenschaft!” Aufrecht refers to the work on the Leipzig manuscripts for which he did not receive any payment. Aufrecht to Windisch, 23 March 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.12. []
  3. For another photo of him, see Rau 1982: 29. []
  4. Communication from Philipp-Lukas Bohr, Bonn University and State Library, 9 February 2024. []
  5. Aufrecht 1891: VIII. []
  6. Aufrecht to Windisch, 24 December 1895, LUA, NA Windisch, 2.13.10. []
  7. Aufrecht to Windisch, 27 December 1895, LUA, NA Windisch, 2.13.11. []
  8. Windisch to Gebhardt, 23 March 1896, LUL, Archives 329. []
  9. Gebhardt to Ministry of Cultus and Public Education, September 1896, LUL, Archive 430. []
  10. Aufrecht to Windisch, 23 March 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.12. []
  11. Aufrecht to Windisch, 28 March 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.13. []
  12. Gebhardt to Ministry of Cultus and Public Education, September 1896, LUL, Archiv 430. []
  13. Aufrecht to Windisch, 7 December 1896, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.15. []
  14. Draft of an accompanying letter from Gebhardt to the Bonn University Library, 16 September 1896, LUL, Archives 434. []
  15. Draft of a letter from Gebhardt to the Bonn University Library, 16 January 1897, LUL, Archive 436. []
  16. See Wollina 2020. []
  17. He is certainly referring to the delivery of Indian manuscripts in the summer of 1898. Cf. Krause 2013: XVf. [] []
  18. Aufrecht to Windisch, 29 April 1898, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.16. This list can still be found in LUL, Archive 436. []
  19. Aufrecht to Windisch, 13 May 1898, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.17. []
  20. As far as I know, this has not been preserved. []
  21. Aufrecht to Gebhardt, 30 September 1899, LUL, Archives 324. []
  22. Draft of a letter from Gebhardt to Aufrecht, 13 October 1899, LUL, Archives 438. []
  23. Aufrecht to Gebhardt, 14 October 1899, LUL, Archives 324 and Schaarschmidt to Gebhardt, 23 October 1899. []
  24. Draft of a letter from Gebhardt to Schaarschmidt, 6 December 1899, UBL, Archives 438. []
  25. Aufrecht to Windisch, 17 July 1901, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.19. []
  26. Aufrecht to Windisch, 6 January 1902, LUA, NA Windisch 2.13.20. []
  27. Aufrecht 1909. []

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