In the 1850's European intellectuals were greatly preoccupied with the suicide of Hermann Franck, which followed the mysterious death of his fifteen-year-old son Hugo. Had the son also taken his own life? Had he died of natural causes? Had he been murdered, perhaps even by his father?
The Tagebuch für Hugo documents the eight year period preceding this enigmatic event. and is the story of a highly complex father-son relationship. Franck began his diary when Hugo's mother died and took on sole responsible for his son's upbringing, a task that would become the main focus of his life.
Lovingly, truthfully, Hermann Franck describes the intellectual and emotional growth of his son, for the future "when you will read this diary". But he also confides his troubles to it, and often addresses Hugo directly, speaking to the diary "as to a child".
Franck's notes, jotted down almost daily over the course of eight years, also provide a picture of everday life, and of travels around Europe. They add up to a valuable social-historical documentation of the mid-19th century.
This is the first publication of the Tagebuch für Hugo, edited by Andreas Feuchte from the original manuscript. In his introduction, Hartmut von Hentig emphasizes the literary significance of the text, ranking it among the ten most important childhood reports in the history of literature, equal to, for example, Salomon Maimons Lebensgeschichte, Karl Philipp Moritz's Anton Reiser and Rousseau's Emile.