|Pierre Joseph Proudhon by Courbet (1865)|
The bibliography of Johannes John's entry in the Goethe-Handbuch led me to the article "Goethes Verhältnis zum Saint-Simonismus im Spiegel seiner Altersbriefe" by Werner Kahle, which appeared in volume 89 (1972) of the Goethe-Jahrbuch. Professor Kahle was at the university of Jena, and it is not surprising in 1972 that he would place Goethe within a Marxist context. (In the same way, Goethe scholarship these days often reflects our own ideological tendencies, e.g., "the Green Goethe.") Thus, the subject of Kahle's 1963 publication (of 514 pages!) entitled Die Grundlinien der ideologischen Entwicklung Goethes im Spiegel seiner Brief: Ein Beitrag zum marxistischen-leninistischen Goethebild. As evidence for Goethe's sympathy with socialism, Kahle notes Faust's visions of the future in his last monologue as well as the Pedagogical Province in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, both of which reveal "a far-reaching affinity and agreement with the ambitions of French utopian socialism."
|Aufbau der Republic by Max Lingner|
I can't help thinking how that comment could have applied to Professor Kahle's own situation in the DDR, where open-mindedness to a non-Marxist point of view would have been not only extraordinary but also quite dangerous. As I indicated above, however, we postmoderns can also be less than openminded ourselves in our scholarship. One might not be thrown in prison or lose one's teaching position by expressing opinions or having an attitude that goes against the ideological grain of the time, but there can be much social disfavor, which is also oppressive.