The Spell of Italy
Vacation, Magic, and the Attraction of Goethe
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Wayne State University Press
I would like to acknowledge Liliane Weissberg for her support and the two anonymous readers of the manuscript for their exceptional insights. Others, with one exception, I will simply list since their contributions, whether it be in the form of comments, laughter, or patience...
In October 1973 the Austrian-born poet Ingeborg Bachmann died after suffering third-degree burns from a fire in her apartment in Rome. The fire apparently began when a cigarette dropped from her hand after she had fallen asleep. Her death ended what was certainly an...
1. Opened Wounds: Winckelmann and the Discovery of the Art of the Ancients
If an element of swindle or forgery is a concern of later generations of German writers working their way south, it might be that a bit of hoodwinking is constitutive of the Germans’ journeys to Italy from the outset. No doubt the primary, if not the initial, inspiration for undertaking such a journey was Johann Joachim Winckelmann, although he was...
2. Fathers and Sons in Italy: The Ghosts of Goethe’s Past
If the law of the father or of his terror is ultimately how one might phrase the legacy of Winckelmann’s journey to but never out of Italy, the first father to have really mattered had already been there and done that by the time Winckelmann began his sojourn. Johann Caspar...
3. Taking the Words out of the Father’s Mouth: Goethe’s Authorial Triumph
Acritical difference begins to emerge between the classical aesthetics of Winckelmann and Goethe. In its most concise formulation it might read as something similar to the following: the former imitates the imitation of the ancients; the latter imitates that imitation. The consequences of such differences are telling. While imitation in Winckelmann...
4. On Goethe’s Other Trail: Heinrich Heine’s Grand De-Tour
If the Goethe effect is an attempt to divide or split subjects so that the specter of one’s posited self might link up and lose itself with other castoffs amid the ancient ruins, three of the more curious excavations subsequently undertaken by German or Austrian writers were those by...
5. The Return of the Repressed: Nietzsche and Freud
Heine’s Italian journey articulates the long shadow cast upon Italy by Winckelmann and Goethe as well as the consequences for one who is unable to trace the contours of that shadow. More specifically, Heine’s journey exposes the need to censor or cut off one who cannot help but...
6. Goethe’s Other Italy: The Devil’s Playground
If one were to read back from Thomas Mann to Goethe, the peculiar space Italy occupies in the cultural consciousness of German writers finds in many respects its most troubling expression in Mann’s Doktor Faustus. It is in Palestrina, after all, that Adrian Leverkükhn formally...
Epilogue: Birthing Italy
In the last chapter, the Italy that emerged as a byproduct of the substitutions so essential for its continuing spell converged with Mussolini’s Italy. The oppression of the real or historical Italy, whether it be the one that Seume witnessed or the one that was repressed under fascism, recalled...