Thursday, August 14, 2014

World literature in the 19th century

I continue to make my way through Peter Goßens' books Weltliteratur: Modelle transnationaler Literaturwahrnehmng im 19. Jahrhundert. What I find interesting is the centrality of Goethe in literary and political discussions of the 1830s. The concept of world literature, for instance, in Goethe's lifetime already, played a role in utopian thinking among German writers and among proto-socialists and other sundry spirits hoping to reform society.

Sue admires the tree

Goethe scholar before large tree
 Prominent among these were the so-called "Young German" poets. A critic of Young Germans, because of their cosmopolitan orientation, was the critic Wolfgang Menzel. For Menzel, according to Goßens, Goethe was "eine Macht in Deutschland, eine dem äußern Feind [i.e., the French] in die Hände arbeitende, einer erschlaffende, auflösende Kraft, unser böser Genius, der uns mit einem phantastischen Egoismus, mit den Genüssen des Scheins and der Selbstvergötterung über den Verlust der Religion, des Vaterlands und der Ehre täuschte," and who made Germans to "Schwächligen ... während wir des Heldenmuths an meisten bedurften."

Very strong words

When I got home last evening there were more food gifts from my neighbor Wendy, beets from her garden and blueberries. Today I went out with the ladies for the Thursday morning walk. We went to see the largest tree in Sointula. On the way back, one of the ladies, Yolanna, gave me a bouquet of sweetpeas from her garden.

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