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Title: Goethe's Complete works

Creators: Walt Whitman, Unknown

Date: Undated

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item.

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00184

Notes written on manuscript: On surface 1, in an unknown hand: "I "; on surface 3, in an unknown hand: "2"

Contributors to digital file: Lauren Grewe, Nicole Gray, Ty Alyea, and Matt Cohen



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Goethe's Complete works, last complete edition of his own revision, 1827–8, a short time before his death.—Goethe born 1750—died 1832

Carlyle, in reviews and otherwise, seems to have been the introducer of Goethe and the principal German writers, from 1827 onward 10 years

Goethe—(reading Carlyle's criticisms on Goethe.)

                                                                                       over leaf

Here is now, (January 1856) my opinion of Goethe:

Had I not better read more of Goethe, before giving an "opinion"?

He is the most profound reviewer of Life known.—To him life, things, the mind, death, people, are all studies, dissections, exhibitions.—These departments he enters upon in modes not comparable with any previous excellence, but with unequalled grandeur and coolness and depth of pen‑
etration.—In the work of As a critic he stands apart from all men, and criticises them.—He is the first great critic, and the fountain of modern criticism.—

Yet Goethe will never be dear to men well beloved of his fellows..— Perhaps he knows too much. I can fancy him not being dear to well beloved of Nature for the same reason.—A calm and mighty person whose anatomical considerations of the body are not enclosed by superior considerations, makes the perfect surgeon and operator upon the body upon all occasions.—So Goethe operates well upon the world....his office is great....what indeed is greater?—He shall have the respect and admiration of the whole.— There is however what he cannot have from


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Goethe—1750—1832


———

His first literary productions fell in his 23d year

Sorrows of Werter in his 25th year

in 1776—Goethe was seen by the heir‑apparent of Weimar

Soon after invited to court—and accordingly settled at Weimar

(Goethe was tall, handsome, every way personally attractive)

had the title of Legations‑rath.—

(some time after) By degrees whatever was brightest in Germany had been gathered to this little court.

There was a classical theatre under Goethe and Schiller

There Wieland taught and sang. In the pulpit, there, Herder.

                                                                                       [illegible]? was this a[illegible] about 180[7?]

Goethe had risen until at last he was appointed Minister (I suppose Chief)


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So Goethe lived amid princely persons, all ceremonies, etiquets, ranks, ribbons, caste, the classics, refinements, taxes, money plenty, deference,—all that belongs to a petty German court, with and the minutest observances of the same, with exact precedence and routine for every thing.—arranged art exhibitions, palace‑building, laws for the university and so on.


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Goethe 1750—1832

Goethe's poems, competitive with the antique, are so because he has studied the antique.—They appear to me as great as the antique in all respects except one.— That is, the antique poems were growthsthey ^were never studied their from antiques.—

Goethe's Wanderjahre wvandryahré was published in his 72'd year.—

Sorrows of Werter in his 25th
It's characters illustrate, (in dialogue and incident) a philosophical theory of the Christian religion, finely spun.
—The orthodox statements of Christ, the crucifixion, &c are re‑stated—"the sun hiding its head when He died,"—&c


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Feb. 18 '56—There is one point of the Goethean philosophy which at once ^without ^appeal and forever incapacitates it from suiting America or the forthcoming years.;—It is that the cardinal Goethean doctrine too, that the artist or poet is to live in art [an?]or poetry alone apart from affairs, politics, facts, vulgar life, persons, and things—seeking his "high ideal."


———

Feb. 22. Goethe is never carried away by his theme—he is always master.—He is the head person saying to a pupil, Here, see how well this can be done.


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Goethe

Carlyle vaunts him as having [illegible] showing that ^a man can live even these days as "an antique worthy."— This ^vaunt Goethe deserved—he is indeed a cultivated German aristocrat, ^physically inextricable from his age and position, but morally bent to the Attic spirit and its occasions two thousand and more years ago;—That is his he; and such are his productions.— All tThe assumption that Goethe passed through the first stage of darkness and complaint, to the second stage of consideration and knowledge.—and thence to the third stage of triumph and faith—this assumption, in the cannot pass, and remain permanently cannot stand amid the accepted judgments of the soul.—He Goethe's was the faith of a physical well‑being,—a good digestion and appetite—it was not the faith of phro ^the masters, poets, prophets, divine persons.—Of sSuch faith he perhaps came near, and saw the artistical beauty of,—perhaps fancied he had it—but he never had it—




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