Ferdinand Adolph Lange was born in Dresden just over 200 years ago. Much has already been written about his accomplishments, but little has been known about the first few years of his life so far. His rough-hewn father was a gunsmith who left the family early on. Lange grew up with foster parents who encouraged him in his ambitions and allowed him to study at the newly founded Royal Technical College, the precursor of what is now the University of Dresden. There, Lange was able to develop his scientific talents. Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, who was later appointed clockmaker to the court, quickly recognised the youngster’s exceptional aptitude and became his apprentice master and mentor.
Christoph Scheuring pays tribute to Ferdinand Adolph Lange in “Signs of the times”, his historic novel about an exceptional personality. The book will be released by the Hoffmann & Campe publishing house on 18 January 2016. Scheuring embeds Lange’s biography in a portrayal of Saxony’s early industrial history. With good reason, because nothing that characterised Lange’s personality and life work could be understood today without insights into the society, its scientific milestones and the philosophical trends of this epoch of upheaval and contradiction. The author contrasts Lange’s development with that of two fictional youths, in the process painting a vivid and multifaceted picture of Dresden and Saxony during the first half of the 19th century.
Jakob Schindler, one of the protagonists, does not believe in the beauty of the soul. The brutal and ugly reality of the Ore Mountain region has hardened his spirit. For him, beauty begins where the individual is overcome and the collective spirit starts to shine. Adam Globig takes a totally different approach. For him, science is what liberates people and reveals everything that is true and beautiful. Many great minds of the era believed this, as did Ferdinand Adolph Lange. By creating a scientific foundation for watchmaking, the people in the Ore Mountains will be liberated from their bitter poverty. This was his conviction. He discovered beauty in the passion for craftsmanship. Modesty and service in the public interest should govern all human endeavour, he felt. What was a genuine novelty back in those days is still an enthralling topic today because the link between craftsmanship and science as well as passion and accountability is still absolutely valid and fascinating.