Goethe's Intercourse with Schiller
Adam Kirsch on “The Essential Goethe” and the German author of “Faust” His religious beliefs, his love affairs, his relationships with other writers, his and Goethe's poems, unfortunately, seldom come across vividly in translation. . poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller, Goethe's friend and collaborator. Schiller said the marriage brought him the "harmonious parity" he needed to be able to write. inspired each other, in Goethe and Schiller: History of a Friendship. The two men even composed poems together, despite the. Reflections on Schiller and Goethe know in the sketch for his poem, Geroum Greatness, for . connection of causes and intentions, to discover the entire.
But for some time Germany seemed to forget all about the man who was arguably the country's most famous Romantic thinker. Friedrich von Schiller is back, along with a new fascination with his tumultuous love life.
Just as Britain has been rediscovering the attraction of its Romantics, after documentaries about Byron by actor Rupert Everett and the release of Bright Star, the new Jane Campion film about Keats, Germany is also enjoying a romantic revival. And the th anniversary of Schiller's birth has given scholars the chance to rediscover one of its most distinguished poets and philosophers. A racy new film, Schiller, portrays the poet as a dashing, flame-haired womaniser, mixing high philosophy with simple lust, and dramatises his feverish search for recognition and success as an author.
Meanwhile, a string of biographies have revealed, among other things, that piano music and foul apples inspired Schiller to write, that a brothel visit probably triggered his first passionate scribblings "Your glances, when they smile love, could stir marble to life"and that the loves of his life were two aristocratic sisters to whom he penned a joint love letter. Birgit Lahann, author of Schiller: Rebel from Arcadia, describes how the poet became the "pop star of his time" and a "cult throughout Germany": His charm lay as much in his disorganised, chaotic appearance as in his brilliance.
Light spectrum, from Theory of Colours. Goethe observed that with a prismcolour arises at light-dark edges, and the spectrum occurs where these coloured edges overlap. During his Italian journey, Goethe formulated a theory of plant metamorphosis in which the archetypal form of the plant is to be found in the leaf — he writes, "from top to bottom a plant is all leaf, united so inseparably with the future bud that one cannot be imagined without the other".
The ever-changing display of plant forms, which I have followed for so many years, awakens increasingly within me the notion: The plant forms which surround us were not all created at some given point in time and then locked into the given form, they have been given According to Hegel, "Goethe has occupied himself a good deal with meteorology; barometer readings interested him particularly What he says is important: He claims to deduce from it that the barometric level varies in the same proportion not only in each zone but that it has the same variation, too, at different altitudes above sea-level".
In it, he contentiously characterized colour as arising from the dynamic interplay of light and darkness through the mediation of a turbid medium. After being translated into English by Charles Eastlake inhis theory became widely adopted by the art world, most notably J.
Goethe was vehemently opposed to Newton's analytic treatment of colour, engaging instead in compiling a comprehensive rational description of a wide variety of colour phenomena. Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his aesthetic approach did not lend itself to the demands of analytic and mathematical analysis used ubiquitously in modern Science. Goethe was, however, the first to systematically study the physiological effects of colour, and his observations on the effect of opposed colours led him to a symmetric arrangement of his colour wheel, 'for the colours diametrically opposed to each other Goethe, Theory of Colours Steiner elaborated on that in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception  and Goethe's World View,  in which he characterizes intuition as the instrument by which one grasps Goethe's biological archetype—The Typus.
Novalishimself a geologist and mining engineer, expressed the opinion that Goethe was the first physicist of his time and 'epoch-making in the history of physics', writing that Goethe's studies of light, of the metamorphosis of plants and of insects were indications and proofs 'that the perfect educational lecture belongs in the artist's sphere of work'; and that Goethe would be surpassed 'but only in the way in which the ancients can be surpassed, in inner content and force, in variety and depth—as an artist actually not, or only very little, for his rightness and intensity are perhaps already more exemplary than it would seem'.
For instance, in Faust, the first use of Faust's power after signing a contract with the devil is to seduce a teenage girl. Some of the Venetian Epigrams were held back from publication due to their sexual content.
Goethe clearly saw human sexuality as a topic worthy of poetic and artistic depiction, an idea that was uncommon in a time when the private nature of sexuality was rigorously normative.
He continued, "Pederasty is as old as humanity itself, and one can therefore say, that it resides in nature, even if it proceeds against nature What culture has won from nature will not be surrendered or given up at any price. If I tire of her as a girl, she'll play the boy for me as well". His later spiritual perspective incorporated elements of pantheism heavily influenced by Spinozahumanismand various elements of Western esotericismas seen most vividly in part 2 of Faust.
In old age, he explained why this was so to Eckermann: The young wife whom the counsellor installed in his spacious house in the Hirschgraben was a contrast to him in almost everything.
She was genial and full of wholesome mirth. Her culture was probably moderate enough, but she possessed a nature which readily compensated for all deficiencies of education.
An exuberant fancy, inexhaustible good-humor, and an everready mother-wit made her the most delightful of companions; and no one valued more highly her many charming gifts than her son Johann Wolfgang. As he grew out of infancy she became his playmate and friend, and the confidant of all his boyish sorrows.
She listened with delight to his improvisations, and secretly took his part in his occasional rebellion against the paternal authority.
Goethe was a precocious child, richly endowed physically and mentally. He absorbed knowledge spontaneously and without effort. His fancy, too, was active, and he took delight in relating the most marvelous tales, which he himself invented, to a company of admiring friends. Standing on chairs in the nursery they would hurl the most delightfully polysyllabic maledictions at each other.
Thou monster and black malefactor! I suffer the torments of death, the eternal avenger!
Friedrich Schiller - Friedrich Schiller Poems - Poem Hunter
The culprits were Edition: In Goethe was sent to the University of Leipsic, where he was matriculated as a student of law. Agreeably to this plan Goethe attended lectures on logic and Roman law, but soon grew so heartily tired of these barren disciplines that he absented himself from lectures altogether. Gottschedd, who was a servile imitator of the authors of the age of Louis XIV. Nevertheless the tone of Leipsic society remained French, and it was natural that an impressible young poet like Goethe should assume the tone of his surroundings.
We therefore see that his first literary efforts, a volume of poems published as texts for musical compositions, bear the rococo stamp and are as frivolous and full of artificial conceits as if they had been addressed to one of the beauties of Versailles.
In April,Goethe was sufficiently restored to health to resume his studies. He did not, however, return to Leipsic, but went to the University of Strassburg, where the faculty of law was then in a flourishing condition.
The city of Strassburg was then, as it has ever since remained, essentially German, though there was an infusion of Gallic life from the French officials who governed the conquered province. It was here, where Gallic and Teutonic life ran in friendly parallelism, that Goethe first discovered the distinctive features of each.
It was here he met Herder, whose oracular Edition: Herder was a disciple of Rousseau, and had declared war, not against civilization in general, but against that phase of it which was represented by France.
He detested the entire periwig spirit, and denounced in vigorous rhetoric the hollow frivolity which it had imparted to the literature of the day. He clamored for a return to nature, and selected from the literature of all nations certain books in which he detected the strong and uncorrupted voice of nature.
Among these were the Bible, Homer, Shakespere, Ossian and the ballad literature of all nations. Goethe drank in eagerly these new and refreshing doctrines. He began to read the writers Herder recommended, and in his enthusiasm for Shakespere soon went beyond his teacher. He condemned his own frivolous imitations of French models, and wrestled with gigantic plans for future productions which should infuse new vigor into the enervated literature of the Fatherland. A lively interest in natural science also began to develop itself in him, while his disinclination for the law showed no signs of abating.
At lectures he was not a frequent guest; but for all that his intellectual life was thoroughly aroused and he was by no means idle. With his great absorptive capacity he assimilated a large amount of the most varied knowledge, but insisted upon exercising his choice as to the kind of learning which his nature and faculties craved.
He was probably not wise enough to see that he himself was to blame for having compelled the boy to devote himself to a study for which he had neither taste nor inclination. The parson was a plain, God-fearing man, who went about in dressing-gown and slippers and with a long pipe in his mouth. His daughters Salome and Frederika were what the daughters of country clergymen are apt to be,—nice, domestic girls, who would make charming wives for almost anybody who would have the good sense to propose to them.
Frederika was pretty, and moreover she had an unfortified heart. She possessed a few artless accomplishments—such as playing and singing—but when she was to show these off before company, everything went wrong. Her portrait, as drawn by Goethe in his autobiography, is one of the loveliest things in literature. He had already then the keenest appreciation of what one might call the literary aspect of his experiences.
He knew at once, and probably anticipated in spirit, how they would look in a book. But he was at the same time an inflammable youth, whose heart was readily touched through the medium of his fancy. By degrees, as he established himself in the favor of every member of the Brion family, his relation to Frederika became that of a lover.
The father and the mother accepted him in this capacity, and Frederika herself was overflowing with deep and quiet happiness. By an unlucky chance, however, the two Brion sisters were invited to spend some time with friends in Strassburg. Goethe was charmed at the prospect. But, strange to say, torn out of the idyllic frame in which he had been wont to see her, Frederika seemed no longer so miraculous.
She needed the rural parsonage and the yellow wheat-fields for a setting; amid the upholstered furniture and gilded conventionalities of the city she seemed only a simple-hearted country girl, perhaps, a little deficient in manners.
From that time the charm was broken. Frederika returned to her home; Goethe, too, soon left Strassburg. Frederika waited for him month after month, but he did not come. He lacked courage to tell her of the changed state of his feelings, and left her to pine away between hope and cruel disappointment. A serious illness was the result, which came near costing her her life. Eight years later Goethe, then a world-renowned man, revisited Sesenheim and found her yet unmarried.
She was as frank and friendly as Edition: She made no allusion to the relation which had once existed between them, but she conducted him silently to the arbor in the garden where they had spent so many rapturous hours together. There they sat down and talked of indifferent things; but many strange thoughts arose in the minds of both. Frederika died of consumption in After his return to Frankfort, inGoethe made an earnest effort to please his father by laying the foundation of a legal practice.
The counsellor himself aided him in every possible way, looked up his authorities, and acted as a private referee in all doubtful questions. It was an interesting society which he here encountered, a society animated by an exalted veneration of poetic and intellectual achievements and devoted to a kind of emotional extravagance—an artificial heightening of every fine feeling and sentiment.
His love affair with Frederika, which was here sentimentally discussed, also added to the interest with which he was regarded. A man who is known to have broken many hearts is naturally invested with a tantalizing charm to women who have yet hearts to be broken.
At all events the great expectations which were entertained of him in the Darmstadt circle, stimulated him to justify the reputation which had been thrust upon him. It must be remembered, however, that Germany had at that time no really great creative poet.
It violates, whether purposely or not, every law of dramatic construction. It is a touching and poetical story, told in successive acts and scenes, full of deep psychological insight and vigorous characterization. But it takes a nimble fancy to keep up with the perpetual changes of scene; and even the tendency and morale of the piece are open to criticism. Therefore it is scarcely proper to apostrophize him as the martyr of a noble cause. This removal took place in May, Kestner and Goethe became good friends, in spite of differences of temperament and character, and their friendship soon came to include Lotte.
Kestner, who was a plain, practical man and the soul of honor, could see no danger in the daily association of his betrothed with a handsome and brilliant young poet, who confided to her his hopes and ambitions, romped with her small brothers and sisters, and captivated the entire family by the reckless grace and charm of his manners. For Lotte, though she had a strong sense of duty, had by no means as well-regulated and business-like a heart as her practical lover.
Thus the strange thing came to pass: Lotte fell in love with Goethe, and Goethe with Lotte. At last, however, a crisis occurred. Goethe began to see that he was treading on dangerous ground.
It was a sudden flash which revealed to Goethe the fact that Lotte loved him. So he took his leave, packed his trunks that very night, and wrote three despairing letters to Kestner and Lotte—in which he avowed his love for the latter, and gave this as the reason of his departure. He made it appear, probably in order to shield Lotte, that his love was hopeless and that her happiness was dearer to him than his own.
As was usual with him, and indeed with every great poet, he did not copy the actual relation, but he borrowed from it what was typical and immortal and left out what was accidental and insignificant. The character of Werther himself is more of a free creation, though his external fate was borrowed from that of a young secretary named Jerusalem, who shot himself for love of a married woman.
If Werther had been like his prototype in this respect he would not have killed himself—in other words, he would not have been Werther.
It is only Edition: The Germans call it Weltschmerz—i. Psychologically this is a very interesting phenomenon. The pent-up energy of the nation, which was denied its natural sphere of action in public and political life, takes a morbid turn and wastes itself in unwholesome introspection, coddling of artificial sentiment, and a vague discontent with the world in general. Its plot is borrowed from the Memoirs of Beaumarchais, and deals with the problem of faithlessness. It is his own faithlessness to Frederika which Goethe obviously has in mind and which he is endeavoring psychologically to justify.
But even from this point of view the tragedy can scarcely be called a success; for the reader closes the book with the conviction that Clavigo was, if not a villain, at all events a weak poltroon, though as such a perfectly comprehensible one. After his departure from Wetzlar Goethe once more took up his residence in his native city, and, before long, was again involved in a tender relation.
This time, it was a rich and beautiful lady of society who attracted him,—quite a contrast to the rural Frederika and the amiable and domestic Lotte. Moreover, there was nothing meek and abjectly admiring about her. She teased her adorer, tormented him by her whims, and took delight in exercising her power over him.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Online Library of Liberty
This was quite a new experience to a young man who had been accustomed to easy conquests and uncritical adoration. He was now drawn into general society, and, after his engagement with Lilli had been made public, was compelled to dance attendance upon her, early and late, at balls and dinner-parties. As an experience this might be valuable enough, but Goethe soon tired of it, and protested in prose and verse against his servitude.
Friedrich von Schiller: the Romantic lover
Lilli, however, though she was sincerely attached to him, could not be made to give up the youthful Edition: Quarrels ensued, alienations and reconciliations, and finally a complete rupture. In many poems from this period Goethe chronicles the various stages of his love for Lilli and laments her loss. There is no doubt she had the making of a noble woman in her; her later life, and particularly her utterances concerning her relation to Goethe, show that she was neither frivolous nor shallow-hearted.
But she was young and beautiful, and had a sense of power which it was but natural she should exercise. Among the friends who were warmly attached to Goethe at this time, Fritz Jacobi and Lavater demand a passing notice.
Both presented a queer mixture of character, which accounts for their subsequent alienation from the poet. He valued a friend only as long as he was in sympathy with him, and as he outgrew his youthful self, the friends who had been identified with this self lapsed into the distance. He did not value fidelity in the ordinary sense of the term, when it involved a perpetual strain upon the heart—when it had become a matter of duty rather than of affection.Gedicht: Prometheus von Goethe - Sturm und Drang [learn German with poems]
Besides for an honest man, there was also the stuff for a knave. The so-called science of physiognomy, which Lavater claimed to have discovered, at one time interested Goethe greatly; but later, when he became familiar with scientific methods of research, he could no longer accept Lavater as a guide. Fritz Jacobi was an honest sentimentalist, who ardently revered Goethe for his great powers of mind and intellect. They travelled together, and revelled in the emotions of love and sympathy which welled forth from the souls of both.
Everything that they saw filled them with ecstatic wonder, and furnished themes for extravagant discourses and poetic dreams. Jacobi, even though the years sobered him, never completely outgrew this Edition: They drifted slowly apart, though there was no rupture to signalize their estrangement.
In spite of all his efforts, Goethe could not obtain any lasting satisfaction from his occupation with the law, and he grew lax in his attention to professional duties. The counsellor was grievously disappointed, and the relation between father and son grew so strained that all the diplomacy of the mother was required to keep them from open disagreement. It was therefore a godsend to Goethe when, inthe two princes of Saxe-Weimar arrived in Frankfort, and extended to him an invitation to visit their court.
To this end he conferred upon Goethe the title of Privy Counsellor, with an annual salary of twelve hundred thalers and a vote in the ducal cabinet. Goethe had thus at last got firm ground under his feet, and could now, without fear of the future, give himself up to his favorite pursuits.