The canonized image of Goethe as cosmopolite-poet counts as one of the most significant visions of the author. The production and reproduction of knowledge around the cosmopolitan Goethe is itself a pattern of cultural narration which deserves thorough investigation. German sinologists as a special group of Goethe interpreters attract my attention as they develop a comparative approach to Goethe and his works, deploying their professional knowledge of Chinese culture and poetics. In this article, I explore Goethe-studies by different generations of prominent German China-experts from Richard Wilhelm and Otto Franke to Wolfgang Bauer and Günther Debon and I argue that they extend the horizon of cognition and interpretation towards an in-between-space of cultures and semiotic systems where Goethe’s cosmopolitanism adopts new nuances and meanings. Their various assertions of Goethe’s “Chineseness” display exactly the speculative and constructive character of their writings and also indicate their own diverse ideological inclinations in shaping their Goethe-images.


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pp. 231-246
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