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Goethe Yearbook 209 Nevertheless, the individual readings of the texts are interesting for many reasons . Dye uses his central issue to create provocadve assemblages of texts, ideas, and titles. "Es war eine Ratt' im Kellernest" and "Ganymed," for example, are odd bedfellows, as are the "Lustmord" of Adelheid von Walldorf and Faust's affair with Helen. Second is the scholarly eclecticism. Dye cites both Anglo-American and German scholarship on the texts generously and broadly: he is as likely to be citing Beuder as Bennett, Staiger as Wellbery. As a result the book unexpectedly forces two generations into dialogue that normally have little to say to one another. He recovers nuggets of pure brilliance from older scholars, yet seems to read and comprehend every new trend that has engaged our discipline over the last generation. He is able to incorporate gestures and insights without importing jargon, and thus offers a model for how we could really all be talking to one another. Finally, with their strong moral stance, these readings illuminate both the philosophical significance of the texts under discussion and simultaneously their emotional reality.The mixture of sophisticated abstract discourse with informal contemporary catchwords are à salutary reminder of what might coarsely be called the "relevance" of these texts, or why Goethe matters to us and to our students. University of Washington Jane K. Brown Rolf Christian Zimmermann, Das Weltbild des jungen Goethe, Band I: Elemente und Fundamente. Second edition. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2002.463 pp. This review came into being because of the publisher's claim that this new edition is "überarbeitet" and "nicht unbeträchtlich erweitert," an assertion the author himself has the grace to deny in his preface. Due to its forceful thesis and stupendous erudition, Zimmermann's book, first published in 1969, has had a firm place in the panoply of approaches to the young Goethe, and I was expecting in this review to be able to report on Zimmermann's approach insofar as he has taken into account the last thirty years of Goethe scholarship as well as the criticism levelled at him. In its time, the book appears not to have convinced too many people, and when agreeing to do the review I assumed that Zimmermann had reformulated his position in a more convincing way. Unfortunately, such a reformulation has not happened. Only very infrequently is recent scholarship acknowledged, and as a result the interpretations in relation to which he stakes out his territory still mostly predate the Second, and even the First, World Wars. The text itself, not to mention the argument, is virtually untouched. For the benefit of those readers of the Yearbook who are unfamiliar with Zimmermann's argument, I shall therefore try to indicate how seriously the book should still be taken after 35 years. Zimmermann's thesis has two parts.The first part states that there is indeed one, and only one, constant Weltbild underlying all of Goethe's production until 1775.The second part of the thesis claims that this one worldview was formed exclusively under the influence of eighteenth-century hermeticism, particularly the form of hermeticism as it was transmitted to Goethe during and after his illness in 1768/69 in Frankfurt by the likes of Fräulein von Klettenberg and his doctor Johann Friedrich Metz. I will talk about the first part of Zimmermann's thesis toward the end. But before the discussion of the second part of the thesis, it should be noted that in arguing for it, Zimmermann's stunning breadth of knowledge leads the reader into a fascinating corner of the German eighteenth century. His descriptions of 210 Book Reviews the network of pietists, hermeticists, and alchemists, of the various doctrines held and modified, of the connection to freemasonry and other secret societies, and particularly of the hermetic tradition's reach into the realm of what is commonly called Enlightenment are highly fascinating and instructive. I am not familiar with recent research on the subject, but it would surprise me if his descriptions had lost their relevance today. But does the second part of the thesis hold up? Did Goethe work exclusively under the influence of hermeticism? It might be prudent to reflect...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-9087
Print ISSN
0734-3329
Pages
pp. 209-215
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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