|Markgrafenstein in den Rauener Begen (2012) by Lars Gabyrssch|
|Markgrafenstein mid-19th centry|
|"The Biedermeierweltwunder" by Johann Erdmann Hummel|
Aside from the lack of resolution concerning Goethe’s fascination with erratics vis à vis the volatility of the earth, there was another issue that might be further explored. I interpret somewhat differently a passage Jason quotes from the final section of the novel, part of the discussion of contemporary theories of the earth’s formation. “A few quiet guests,” as Goethe calls them, seem to ruminate about a time of immense glaciers, when masses of primeval rock slid down from on high and huge blocks of rock were transported by means of floating ice. This passage appears as the epigraph of Jean de Charpentier’s Essai sur les glaciers of 1841; for Charpentier, student of Swiss glaciers, they were “milestones in the discovery of former ice ages.” But might it not be the case that the passage is exactly about what Nigel Clark suggested, and that the guests were drawing on a deep human memory of the "earth's eventfulness," a period of volatile instability, in the face of which "human eventfulness" counted as nothing?
Image credits: Lars Gabrysch; The Economist; Dieter Kloessing