|A Tailor's Workshop (detail)|
The only place in the book where the grandfather comes alive occurs when the authors discuss a lawsuit in which he was a party. This lawsuit, which began in 1695 and continued until at least 1702, was the first time that the Goethes and the Textors came together; later, in 1770, the two families would be united in the marriage of Goethe's father and mother. By the time of the lawsuit, Friedrich Georg was a very successful dressmaker. The authors call him the "Karl Lagerfeld of his time."
|Bone corset, ca. 1880|
Because of the prominence of the Textor and Fleischbein families, the debtors were unsuccessful, which appeared to wound Friedrich Georg's honor. He persisted long with legal initiatives, which bore no fruit for him. As the authors point out, as a self-made, successful man, he felt the injustice greatly.
The authors criticize Johann Wolfgang for writing the paternal grandfather out of the family history, and instead, as mentioned in the previous post, for inventing a more illustrious lineage. But just as his grandfather was a self-made man, Goethe, too, invented himself anew. I would also add that, aside from the nobility, most people in the 18th century were probably not concerned about tracing their ancestry. Our contemporary interest in genealogy seems to reflect a modern nostalgia for all that has been lost in our pursuit of progress. Goethe, like his grandfather, didn't look back.
Picture credit: Marquis.de; Metropolitan Museum of Art