The German Classics, twenty volumes of German literature in English translation, edited by the Harvard Professor Kuno Francke, publicized with a great fanfare, was at first well received. But, although the edition is dated 1913 and 1914, it was not completed until mid-1915, just in time for the U-boat sinking of the Lusitania. Reviewers turned hostile, the publishing house went bankrupt, the edition was nearly pulped, and Francke felt obliged to resign his position at Harvard. The first two volumes were devoted to Goethe, the third to Schiller. Reviews complained of the translations, doubtless owing to the employment of the most venerable versions, which were not necessarily the most readable. The oldest translation is Coleridge's of Wallenstein's Death (1800), prestigious but perhaps not the best choice for introducing Schiller to a twentieth-century readership. The editor for Schiller as for Goethe was Calvin Thomas of Columbia University. Oddly, he was not that much of an admirer of Schiller, with the result that his commentary shows signs of strain.
THE GERMAN CLASSICS: Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English, in twenty volumes with the Imperial eagle embossed in gold on each cover and nearly five hundred illustrations, mostly of German art of the nineteenth century, and some fifty scholarly contributors, including but not restricted to most of the prestigious American Germanists of the time, was publicized with a good deal of fanfare.