Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Goethe as Minister of War Commission


This post is a follow-up to the previous one, concerning Goethe’s appointment as director of the Weimar “War Commission,” in particular the letter he drafted for Carl August in connection with demands made on Weimar by Frederick the Great for permission to harvest soldiers in the duchy for his army. Goethe's diary entries for this period are very illuminating. I would have Tweeted them, but they are too long, so I will instead quote here his reaction, in his diary, to his appointment and to his duties. One is dated January 13, 1779; a second “from 14th til the 23”; and a third one January 30. The appointment and the responsibility seem to have brought him to more personal considerations, which can also be seen in the long diary entries for the following months of February and March. One sees in these entries Goethe speaking in lapidary manner, which may be the start of the “quotable Goethe.” He also seems to undertaking some self-assessment.

January 13 notes, in connection with the first session of the Commission, that he is “Fest ruhig in meinen Sinnen, und scharf.” The pressure of the tasks is not unpleasant at all, which leads to the following: “Elender ist nichts als der Behagliche Mensch ohne Arbeit, das schönste der Gaben wird ihm eckeln.” (Nothing is more sordid as a contented man without work; the best gifts will revolt him.)  He refers to the difficulty of activating and maintaining the “Earthly machine.” For an active person (einen Handelnden), past history is not a guide, nor textbooks. Likewise prayers, except one for wisdom, a gift that the gods have denied humans. And then: “Klugheit theilen sie aus, dem Stier nach seinen Hörnern und der Kazze nach ihren Klauen, sie haben all Geschöpfe bewaffnet.” (All creatures have been armed, the bull with its horns, the cat with its claws.)

The following  entry (Vom 14 bis 25) mentions that he has immersed himself in the documents and that the matter is becoming clearer: the appearance in Weimar of the Prussian courier Reinbaben and the issue discussed in the previous post, namely, the Prussian demands and the courses open to Weimar, which will then be elaborated in the February 9 letter to Carl August. Among all this is only a single lament: “Wenig auf dem Eis!”

To be continued.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Goethe as Political Advisor

Friedrich and Feldherr Bernhard Rode

This post continues the subject of the preceding one, namely, Goethe’s acculturation to life in Weimar to the point where, as Herder would write in 1782 to Hamann, he was majordomo of the court: “Er ist also jetzt Wirklicher Geheimer Rat, Kammerpräsident, Präsident des Kriegscollegi, Aufseher des Bauwesens bis zum Wegbau hinunter, dabei auch Directeur des Plaisirs, Hofpoet, Verfasser von schönen Festivitäten …” etcetera etcetera.

It was in that year of 1782 that Goethe was tasked with overseeing the “household finances” of the duchy. This good bourgeois son of Frankfurt — even if now Geheimrat — would introduce many reductions, including in military expenditures. It’s strange now to think of a duchy as small as Weimar having a standing army, even if much of it consisted of poorly trained part-timers, and regular troops who performed guard duty at bridges and gates and the workhouse.

Albrecht Schöne

Albrecht Schöne (96 this year!) devotes a chapter of his book Der Briefschreiber Goethe to his appointment at the age of twenty-nine, in 1779, as director of the War Commission, replacing the very much senior von Fritsch in that capacity. I should say at this point that Albrecht Schöne is a Goethe scholar from whom I have learned a lot. I was fortunate to review this book a few years ago for the Goethe Yearbook. Its nine chapters treat individual letters written by Goethe, from the earliest in 1764 to Ludwig Ysenburg von Bari, to one written in the final year of his life, 1832, to Wilhelm von Humboldt. Each chapter includes the full text of the letter. The one discussed here was written to Carl August in February 1779.

Archduke Joseph by Georg Decker

Already in late 1778, in Schöne’s account, Weimar was under pressure to supply troops for Prussia’s military excursus (Auseinandersetzung) against Austria: the War of the Bavarian Succession (so-called Potato War). The Prussians were determined to stop the ambitions of Josef II for Habsburg expansion into Central Europe. A certain Lieutenant von Rheinbaben, emissary of General von Moellendorff, visited von Frisch in early December 1778 requesting permission to recruit soldiers in the duchy for Prussia (theils einige Recruten, theils die Erlaubniß, in den hiesigen Landen zu werben). Von Fritsch responded negatively (mit einem entschieden abwehrenden Schreiben), on the grounds of insufficient men fit for service.

The Prussians were not to be put off, and another emissary of the Prussian king arrived at the end of the month, who was likewise rebuffed. The situation became increasingly threatening by January 1799, when young Weimar males were press-ganged by Prussian hussars or kidnapped as alleged Prussian deserters. Moellendorf wrote again, expressing the king’s “deep consternation” that von Fritsch had not presented the duke with the king’s most amicable and ardent request, namely, to be allowed some recruits (Ersuchen einiger Rekruten auf das freundschaftlichste, aber inständigste, nochmahlen zu widerholen). So it went, with Carl August declining and the king, Frederick the Great, replying in a tone that was “ruthlessly conciliatory” (mit knocheharter Konzilianz).

Part of the problem for Weimar was that if the Prussians were granted this request, Austria would take it amiss and might invade. The duke had to respond to the king. What was his course of action to be? So, in this increasingly threatening situation, Goethe drafted a letter on February 9, 1779, addressed to Carl August —  “Gnädigster Herr” — outlining the courses of action open to the duke. Schöne reproduces the text of the letter and analyzes it in great detail, including grammatically. The main interest here, however, is Goethe as a political advisor.

Goethe begins by writing that one (he always use “man” here, meaning Carl August) has to weigh two unpleasant courses of action against the other (beyde unangenehme Seiten gegenwärtiger Lage … natürlich gegen einander stellen)  in order to calculate the options open to Weimar, without emotional exaggeration while appraising the facts on the ground (ein sachlich abwägedendes Kalkül ziehen und sich dann ohne emotionale Übertreibungen die eigenen Optionen vor Augen führen, also Weimars Handlungsspielräume anloten).


It is in this carefully constructed letter that one comes to appreciate how much Goethe actually learned from his father and from his studies of the law, however much he dismissed them. The duke, after all, only twenty-one years of age, was dealing, with Great Powers: Prussia and Austria. It shows how much he depended on Goethe already, asking his counsel, and not only that of the older and experienced von Fritsch.  Schöne refers to the letter as “ein meisterliche[s] Lehrstück strategischen Denkens.” The seven-page letter, drafted overnight, was not only an example of princely education in the age of enlightened absolutism, but, for Schöne, it also represents a textbook example of political advice. To provide a larger overview, Schöne includes a tree diagram (in Anlehnung an Darstellungsweisen der Entscheidungtheorie) that lays out the pros and cons of the two options (one regarding Prussia, the other Austria). Represented here is only the former, with P representing Prussia and W Weimar. The numbers in parens refer to lines of the letter. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The contents of the letter is of course something we expect “professionals” to consider when advising clients. In the end the letter had no consequences, as the political situation calmed down. Schöne makes the point that the letter was a letter meant privately for the duke. It makes no reference to earlier secret discussions of the Commission concerning the matter at hand, and is not found in Goethe’s “amtliche Schriften,” but instead in Carl August’s cache of private letters from Goethe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Year Four in Weimar Begins

Goethe and Carl August in conversation

Wilhelm Bode, in his book Goethes Leben im Garten am Stern, notes at the beginning of the chapter entitled "Das vierte Jahr: November 1778 to November 1779" a change in the circumstances of Goethe's status in Weimar. He begins by writing that three years earlier the consensus in Weimar would have held that Goethe was not qualified to occupy the office of privy councilor. By the end of 1778, however, his friends might have asked whether he wasn't too great and too good (zu groß und zu gut) for the job. His tasks, as he writes, were to deal always with petty men with petty goals. And indeed, in the month of December 1778, Goethe gives voice in his diary to his feelings about the office. The entries are so long that I gave up Tweeting  them and have decided to summarize here some of his thoughts in the final days of 1778. They show him coming to terms with the new situation. He is coming down to Earth after having been regarded as a "Genie" and realizing what he has got himself into.

On December 14, for example, after reporting about a fire at the school, he mentions a conversation with Carl August about "politics and laws" (Pol. und Gesezze) and notes that they had different notions about the matters. He continues that he may not speak his own opinions. They would be easy to misunderstand and might then be dangerous. There then follows a passage in which he reflects on the difficulty of bettering incorrigible human evils and circumstances. (Paste in Google translate, if necessary.)

[man] verliert die Zeit und verdirbt noch mehr statt dass man diese Mängel annehmen sollte gleichsam als Grundstoff und nachher suchen diese zu kontrebalanciren. Das schönste Gefühl des Ideals wäre wenn man immer rein fühlte warum man's nicht erreichen kann.

On December 15 he writes that he is spending time in architectural drawing in order to distance himself. Then there follows an interesting comment. It seems that while speaking with his friend Knebel about society's disorders (Schiefheiten). the conversation came to a discussion of how his own situation looked from outside. "From outside," he emphasizes, then goes on:

Wenn man mit einem lebt soll man mit allen eben, einen hört, soll man alle hören. Vor sich allein ist man wohl rein, ein andrer verrückt uns die Vorstellung durch seine, hört man den dritten so kommt man durch die Parallaxe wieder aufs erste wahre zurück.

With only the evidence of the diary, it is hard for me to say (although maybe a reader will have a different take on this) whether he is indicating what Knebel has said, or whether this last is Goethe speaking his own opinion. What follows, however suggests that Knebel is giving him some insights into the situation of the privy council itself, as von Fritsch, who was not happy when Goethe was elevated to the council, is mentioned.

The entries for 1778 conclude with this lapidary sentence: "New grievances grow daily and never more so than when you think one has been taken care of" (Es wächsen täglich neue Beschwerden, und niemals mehr als wenn man Eine glaubt gehoben zu haben).

Image credit: Goethe Was Here

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Goethe as Thinker? Goethe as Scientist?

To what extent do the above terms apply to Goethe? Consider the first. It can’t be denied that Goethe was a thinker in the sense of a person who did a lot of thinking. The proof is in his writings, as well as in reports of conversations with contemporaries. But if we consider some of the thinkers of his age and the influence they had during their lifetime — e.g., Kant, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot — Goethe cannot be said to have belonged in such company.  Kant and Hume were both philosophers and created philosophical systems, while the influence of the three Frenchmen was in the realm of ideas in the service of contemporary social and political life. In his lifetime Goethe came to occupy an important cultural and literary position, but he wasn’t a “thinker” in that class. It was only after his death in 1832 that he was portrayed as oracular, when he began to be regarded as an important thinker, but the content of the oracles has been changeable. “Goethe, for instance, can’t be pinned down the way one can “Kafkaesqe” or “Orwellian.”

Goethe’s scientific interests were in the field of natural science, which encompassed fields we today identify as botany, geology, paleontology, zoology, and so on. In monasteries in the Middle Ages there was already extensive collections of plants, and this continued in the Renaissance with scholars documenting animal, insects, plant life and all manner of earth forms. Some important natural scientists in Goethe's lifetime were the Count de Buffon, Charles Bonnet, and Albrecht Haller. One of the greatest natural scientists of Goethe’s era was his friend Alexander von Humboldt. As Wikipedia puts it, natural science is less experimental than it is observational.

Goethe had use of laboratories for his scientific researches, including that of the well-established one at the court in Gotha, where he was a favored visitor. But for Goethe, the eyes were important, the perception of what was before our eyes, not the “unseen” elements that make up the building blocks of modern-day science. “Gegenständliches Denken” was his own term for describing his intellection. Thus, the difference between natural science and what have become the modern scientific disciplines of chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, and their continuing branchings and flowerings into the present. Goethe was adamantly opposed to what is called such “system building,” and thus immediate predecessors in respect of science were not Euler, Lavoisier, Herschel, or Priestly. Instead, Goethe is part of a long and venerable transmission that includes such observers as Aristotle and extending to Charles Darwin and beyond. 

There are dozens of articles on the internet regarding Goethe as a scientist, so the above is as minimal as I can make things.

The questions in the title of this post are prompted by two recently published articles by Michael Saman, one in the Goethe Yearbook (vol. 27 [2020]), the second in German Quarterly (vol. 94, 4 [2021]). Saman quotes Tzvetan Todorov to the effect that while “Goethe himself had expected his scientific writings to have their most lasting impact on the study of nature, they instead ‘have fallen into oblivion’ in that area, and, ‘since the 1920s, [...] have found an ever-increasing echo among literary scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists, such that one could say that out of all of Goethe’s intellectual legacy, it is precisely his writings on nature that have most strongly influenced the specialists in culture!” Thus, Goethe as thinker.

Saman investigates this influence on the discipline of “social science,” in particular in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Vladimir Propp. Lévi-Strauss is best known for his studies in anthropology, and Propp for his work on folklore. And while both these men assembled amazing collections of empirical data, just as do practitioners of natural science, it is not from the tangible bones of the earth and the flowers of field. It is human behavioral practices that constitute the “data.”

While Saman stresses that Lévi-Strauss, like Goethe, had no interest in being a philosophical thinker, the “science of the concrete” that unites them still uses the word science if science means ultimate the representation of something abstract, say, types. Propp, who knew Goethe’s scientific writings well, also spoke of “laws” that were equally valid for the realms of nature and human creativity and “that can be investigated with similar methods.” In Lévi-Strauss we are dealing with what has become known as “structuralism,” whereas Propp’s method is “formalism.” Both present, not “a mere descriptive catalogue of so-called facts” (Saman quotes sociologist Sverre Holm here who calls Goethe a model for social science) but also “types,” “structures” and the like, which are not visible to the naked eye.  Goethe, after all, in his botanical research, sought to discern “the relations that unify” the facts on the ground.

Saman’s articles are well written (distinguishing them from much scholarly writing) and I liked reading his attempt to distinguish structuralism and formalism and the account of the scholarly feud between Lévi-Strauss and Propp. For my part, I have always found structuralism off-putting — I find it ultimately abstract — whereas Propp’s system strikes me as a literary scholar as intuitively of interest. I feel the same way of a similar proponent of formalism, André Jolles, to whom I earlier devoted a blogpost. Reading traditional tales with Propp or Jolles in mind, I find that the reading is enriched.

As I mentioned in my review in the Times Literary Supplement of a book by Stephen Bollmann, there is much interest of late in the “Green Goethe,” I think it is more apt to place Goethe here in the domain of natural science. So, in that respect there can be no doubt that Goethe qualifies as both thinker and scientist.

Image: Semantics Scholar

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Goethe Is Everywhere

The Goethe Global project is something I should have posted on long ago, but things have piled up so much that I haven't posted at all for over a month. Several months ago I was contacted by "The Goethe Global Team," which announced the creation of a new website in order to raise Goethe’s popularity among English speakers worldwide. Further, "On the website, we provide Goethe quotes in English, often newly translated, with the German original and the exact source. In addition, we link to free versions of some of Goethe’s works in English and to online resources about Goethe in English."

After some back and forth I agreed to list the website on my blogroll, but (again, lack of time) did not include a blogpost about it. I think the best way to inform readers of this blog about the site is to provide a link to the blog of Cynthia Haven's website The Book Haven, which tells more about the activities of Tino Markworth and The Goethe Global Team. Cynthia mentions Markworth's other passion: he organized the first international conference on Bob Dylan in 1998 at Stanford, which attracted more than 400 people. If you are looking for Goethe wisdom in English, the categories of translation range from action, advice, aging to world of delusion, writing, and youth.

I've mentioned elsewhere that Goethe turns up in the darndest places, which is why, when I open a scholarly book, I immediately turn to the index. One is often sure to find him there. Here is a link to something found on the internet: the Goethe Project 2021. The intention is to read Goethe's works in English in 2021. It is late in the year, but here is a link to the reading schedule. The site was founded by two grad students in Classics at NYU. Bravo.

The last item for today concerns a piece by Edward Luttwak that appeared in the London Review of Books of June 3, 2021, entitled "Goethe in China." Luttwak is of the opinion that the founder of the project to translate "all" of Goethe's works into Chinese must be recruiting "every qualified Chinese Germanist" there is. (How many can there be in China, anyway?) This founder is Wei Mao-ping, dean of the School of Germanic Studies at Shanghai International Studies University. (See link to project here.) Such a project requires lots of financing, and Luttwak writes that a major "paying customer" must be  Xi Junping, "the only world leader who knows Faust by heart." At least, so he boasted to Angela Merkel on meeting her.

This reading experience took place when Xi was being "re-educated" at the age of 15 in rural China, when another teenager in exile lent him a copy of Faust.  The translator was Guo Moruo (1892-1978), "a consciously Faustian character himself, though his own, widely accepted claim was that he was China's Goethe." His exceptional prominence as a poet and scholar and early supporter of Mao might not have saved him during the Cultural Revolution, but, when the Guards came after him, he had a self-critical text ready that declared the counter-revolutionary nature of his earlier writings. He even remained silent when the Red Guards persecuted two of his sons, who later committed suicide in order to avoid further torture.

Luttwak describes the fall from grace of Xi's own father (leading to abuse and imprisonment for 16 years), which apparently did nothing to cause the present Chinese leader to turn against the regime. Something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Goethe and Anton Reiser

I am finally getting around to the continuation of the previous post, in which I mentioned what I saw as a connection between Goethe's account of the shoemaker in Leipzig and the account in Anton Reiser of AR's apprenticeship experience. In Goethe's account of his visit to Leipzig, the shoemaker is good hearted and philosophic, a joy to be around. In AR's account, the milliner in his cruelty is Dickensian avant la lettre.

Goethe and the Philosophical Shoemaker

It was not simply that particular contrast that made me think that Goethe had the character of Anton Reiser in mind when he wrote about the shoemaker in Book 8 of Dichtung und Wahrheit. That book, along with the last part of Book 6 and the entire Book 7, concerns Goethe's residence in Leipzig, and in particular his mentors, including the wife of Professor Böhme, Oeser, Behrisch, and even an officer who had fought in the Seven Years' War and to whom young Goethe confided his confusion concerning the nature of "Erfahrung." Each of these individuals was important in some way for Goethe's development. In Anton Reiser, in contrast, Anton also has several mentors who endeavor to assist him to rise from the narrow, impecunious circumstances in which he was raised. In every case, however, good fortune is followed by bad fortune.

What made me bring these two cases into connection was the opening paragraph of Book 9. Goethe is back home Frankfurt, after a less than stellar legal studies in Leipzig. It begins with a quote from a review by the classical philologist Heyne, which seems to sum up the real experience of Leipzig for Goethe. Here is part of the quote:

[W[ir haben eine Einbildiungskraft, der wir, wofern sie sich nicht der ersten besten Vorsellungen selbst bemächtigen soll, die schicklichsen und schönsten Bilder vorlegen und dadurch das Gemüt gewöhnen und üben müssen, das Schöne überall und in der Natur selbst, unter seinen bestimmten, wahren und auch in den feineren Zügen zu erkennen und zu lieben. Wir haben eine Menge Begriffe und allgemeine Kenntinisse nötig, sowohl für die Wissenschaften als für das täglich Leben, die sich in keinem Kompendio erlernen lassen. Unsere Empfindungen, Neigungen, Leidenschaften sollten mit Vorteil entwickelt und gereinigt werden.

Anton Reiser, of course, is never in control of is his imagination, which is always painting pictures of success, whether it be as an actor or a poet. It takes him so far afield that, whenever an opportunity comes his way for betterment, he is so far carried away by the glorioius prospect that his feet seem not to be on the ground. The result is that he ends up being cast down by what he perceives as his failure. The novel is a daunting story of what we might call today manic-depression. What Bodmer wrote of poetic enthusiasm (in his 1727 treatise Von dem Einfluss und Gebrauche der Einbildungskraft) applies to Anton Reiser:

[Sie] jagt die Einbildungs-Krafft in eine ausserordentliche Hitze, und führet den Dichter gleichsam ausser sich selbst, daß er die Einbildungen von den Empfindungen nicht unterscheiden kan, die gerichts von dem Gegenstand, dem wir wircklich, vor dem Gesicht haben, abkommen; sondern meinet er sehe und fühle die Dinge gegenwärtig.

For Goethe, of course, imagination was extremely important, but he had a different personality (to use another modern term) from Reiser. We know that he was occasionally petulant when criticized, but he seems to have been fortunate in being more grounded, so to speak, and was able to take his time, to allow himself to be led by those wiser than himself. As I read on in Der junge Goethe and in the autobiography, this is very apparent in his encounters with men like Herder and Merck.

Anyway, take it as you like. As I wrote in the previous post, one cannot know what was on Goethe's mind when he wrote this account of his early "apprenticeship," but his acquaintance in Rome with Karl Philipp Moritz, author of Anton Reiser, is suggestive of the many influences that affected his writing.

Image credit: AKG images

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Goethe in Dresden

Adriaen van Ostad, The Painter in His Studio

When I have an idea for a blog post, I always imagine it can be accomplished quickly. And, yet, every post on Goethe takes me far afield, because there are so many trails that lead from him or to him. I have a feeling that this will be a two-parter.

Take the case of Goethe’s visit to Dresden in 1768, when he was a student in Leipzig. My original idea for this post came from my recent re-reading of books 7 and 8 of his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit and, in particular the episode of the shoemaker, a relative of a fellow student of Goethe’s in Leipzig. Of all the bad luck, the two pages dealing with that visit are missing in the electronic file of Loeper that I have been reading in conjunction with the autobiography. Trunz, however, in his commentary, asserts that the shoemaker was real, if not the details that Goethe describes concerning his visit and lodgings with the shoemaker. On meeting the man, Goethe engaged with him in a lighthearted conversation that showed the shoemaker to be something of a wit. Goethe felt right at home in this humble dwelling. On his return to the lodgings for lunch after his morning outing to the Dresden gallery, he writes that he could hardly believe his eyes: a scene from a painting by the 17th-century Dutch painter Adriaen Ostade, a scene so perfect that one could imagine it hanging in the gallery itself.

Stellung der Gegenstände, Licht, Schatten, bräunlicher Teint des Ganzen, magische Haltung, alles, was man in jenen Bildern bewundert, sah ich hier in der Wirklichkeit.

 (If necessary, cut and past German quote in Google Translate.)

It’s not known which painting of Ostade Goethe actually saw. Dresden today has lots of paintings by the artist, but I liked the one above, which seems to reflect what might have appealed to Goethe, as per Wikipedia: Ostade “is distinguished from his rivals by a more general use of light and shade, especially a greater concentration of light on a small surface in contrast with a broad expanse of gloom.”

That evening, on returning home near midnight, making his way to his quarters, Goethe again describes the setting in reference to another Netherlandic painter, Godfried Schalken:

Die Türen fand ich unverschlossen, alles war zu Bette, und eine Lampe erleuchtete den enghäuslichen Zustand, wo denn mein immer mehr geübtes Auge sogleich das schönste Bild von Schalcken erblickte, von dem ich mich nicht losmachen konnte, so daß es mir allen Schlaf vertrieb.

Godfried Schalken, Girl Reading a Letter

Again, Wikipedia offers information on the painter that resonates with Goethe's description: "a Dutch genre and portrait painter. He was noted for his mastery in reproducing the effect of candlelight," Further, Schalcken specialized in scenes by candlelight."

In a certain way, this coincidence of Goethe’s visit to the magnificent galleries in Dresden with his meeting with a humble craftsman reminds me of certain experiences I had in my youth when I traveled in Europe and later in Asia. Being a student, I did not have a lot of money and did not stay in grand hotels. At the time of those travels, however, the exchange rate was favorable to Americans. It really was the era when you carried in your backpack a copy of Paris on $5 a day or Asia on a Shoestring. Those days of course are long over, but I often stayed in lodgings like that of the shoemaker and had experiences similar to that of Goethe in Dresden.

It has taken me a while to arrive finally at the idea that initiated this blogpost, namely, that I could not help being struck by the difference between Goethe’s view of a craftsman’s life and circumstances from the experience of Anton Reiser, who spent a couple of years of a really awful apprenticeship with another craftsman, a milliner (Hutmacher) in Braunschweig named Lobenstein. Goethe of course knew Karl Philipp Moritz’s novel, having read portions of it in Rome when he first met Moritz. The description of Reiser’s apprenticeship is contained in the first part of the novel. It is impossible to trace every influence on an artist or a writer, for instance, whether Anton Reiser’s experience inspired the creation of the shoemaker in Dresden. It is not, however, the shoemaker episode itself that makes me suspect a relationship between Goethe’s account here and the "person" of Anton Reiser. As I wrote above, this will be a two-parter, and I will attempt in the next post to strengthen the connection between the episode in Goethe's autobiography and Anton Reiser.

Image credits: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister