Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Goethe and Friedrich Jacobi

Friedrich Jacobi
While searching for images for posts on Goethe's blog, I often file some in a folder for future use. Such is this picture of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819) by and unknown portraitist. I now have an opportunity to use it, as chapter 10 of Safranski's biography of Goethe introduces Jacobi. This is how Safranski describes him: "Er war ein tüchtiger und sehr vermögender Geschäftsmann mit einer ausgeprägten Liebe zur Philosophie. Er kannte Gott und die Welt, wechselte Briefe mit allen, die Rang und Namen hatten, mit Lessing, Wieland, Klpstock, Hamann und Kant. Jacobi war ein schöner Mann mit elegantem und gewinnendem Auftreten." The painting of Jacobi here certainly suggests "ein[en] schöne[n] Mann mit elegantem und gewinnendem Auftreten."

Goethe was very impressed, and they went on to have a gay old time together. Anyone who has read the letters Jacobi wrote to Goethe at this time (1774) will certainly recognize a so-called man crush. The relationship became more complex in later years, although Jacobi seems always to have been of an "enthusiastic" temperament. Goethe managed to channel this aspect as time went on.

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