Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Goethe marries

"I want to sleep with you!"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Christiane Vulpius were married on this day in 1806 in the Jacobskirche in Weimar. Like other official buildings in Weimar, it was also serving as an infirmary for the wounded. This was five days after the Battle of Jena and Auerstadt, in which the Prussian forces were defeated by Napoleon's troops. The reasons for Goethe's marriage to his long-time companion have been much studied. See, for instance, the essay by Peter Schwartz, "Why Did Goethe Marry When He Did?", which appeared in volume 15 (2008) of the Goethe Yearbook. The reason had much to do with the European-wide wars.

Sigrid Damm in Christiane und Goethe: eine Recherche poses the interesting question: how did "die kleine Freundin" (as Goethe referred to her), known for eighteen years as Demoiselle Vulpius, feel at this overnight change in her status. From one day to the next she inherited Goethe's name, his title of nobility, as well as his official title: suddenly she became "Frau Geheime Räthin von Goethe.

The photo above comes from a production that was supposed to take place in Istanbul in 2014, but that seems to have been canceled. The play dealt with Goethe's relationship with "a working woman from a lower class." It had to be canceled (I have this from the newspaper report in the English-language newspaper Hurriyet Daily News) because of the line "I want to sleep with you." I have not been able to find any other information on this play, not even the name of the writer of the play. According to the caption on the photo, the director was Kazım Akşar.

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