- Purchase/rental options available:
The distinct cosmopolitanism associated with J. W. Goethe stems from his dual status as both a literary and a cult figure. As a writer, Goethe shaped intellectual and literary discourse on cosmopolitanism, but as a cultural icon, he was the focal point of a culture of refined tourism that gravitated around him but was shaped by the cult of Goethe rather than the person and his literary works. This article captures one moment in the interface of intellectual cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan tourism in the last years of Age-of-Goethe Weimar. To this end, the focus is not on Goethe, but rather on the cultural sphere that was maintained on his behalf in his immediate vicinity, but independently from him, by his daughter-in-law Ottilie von Goethe. The article examines the cultural and aesthetic innovations brought about through the journal Chaos, which Ottilie von Goethe edited and which appeared weekly from 1829 to 1832. Presenting a detailed overview of the journal, its community, the journal’s underlying notion of creativity, and the approach toward cultural identity, the article demonstrates that, instead of serving merely as the expressive medium of a preexisting society, Chaos generated its own community and became the platform for a collaborative creative process that can itself be characterized as cosmopolitan. This cosmopolitanism is furthermore characterized as a radicalized fusion of J. W. Goethe’s notion of Weltliteratur with the Romantic notion of creativity. The article also situates Ottilie von Goethe’s Chaos within the broader context of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century discourses on cosmopolitanism and considers what Chaos can contribute to today’s discussions about world literature and transculturality.