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By Simon J. Richter

In Germany, Weimar Classicism (roughly the interval from Goethe's go back to Germany from Italy in 1788 to the demise of his good friend and collaborator Schiller in 1805) is commonly considered as an apogee of literary artwork. yet outdoors of Germany, Goethe is taken into account a Romantic, and the idea of Weimar Classicism as a unique interval is seen with skepticism. This quantity of latest essays regards the query of literary interval as a purple herring: Weimar Classicism is healthier understood as a venture that concerned the formidable test not just to visualize but additionally to accomplish a brand new caliber of wholeness in human lifestyles and tradition at a time while fragmentation, department, and alienation the norm. by means of no longer succumbing to the parable of Weimar and its literary giants, yet being keen to discover the phenomenon as a fancy cultural process with a distinct signature, this booklet presents an account of its shaping ideals, preoccupations, motifs, and values. Contributions from top German, British, and North American students open up a number of interdisciplinary views at the interval. Essays at the novel, poetry, drama, and theater are joined via bills of politics, philosophy, visible tradition, girls writers, and technological know-how. The reader is brought to the total panoply of cultural lifestyles in Weimar, its accomplishments in addition to its excesses and follies. Emancipatory and doctrinaire through turns, the venture of Weimar Classicism is better approached as a fancy complete. members: Dieter Borchmeyer, Charles Grair, Gail Hart, Thomas Saine, Jane Brown, Cyrus Hamlin, Roger Stephenson, Elisabeth Krimmer, Helmut Pfotenhauer, Benjamin Bennett, Astrida Orle Tantillo, W. Daniel Wilson. Simon J. Richter is affiliate Professor of German on the college of Pennsylvania.

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And although Friedrich Schlegel began his career with an essay more “classical” than Schiller’s contemporaneous Ueber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (I am referring to Schlegel’s Ueber das Studium der Griechischen Poesey [On the Study of Greek Poetry, 1795]), I will not include the Romantics in this discussion; they are treated in volume eight of the Camden House History of German Literature. I have, however, included another group of writers who did make their way to Weimar, even if only briefly, and shared an affinity with the project, although a sense of mutual rejection and incompatibility mixed with regret and/or disdain was the final upshot.

His 1785 essay, based on prior work in that direction by Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86), beats Kant to the punch by several years. 30 At the beginning of the correspondence between Goethe and Schiller, the essay appears as Goethe lends it to Schiller — his first gift, as it were — who read it with interest. Schiller then passed it on to Wilhelm von Humboldt (of whom more shortly). The essay glorifies the sovereign autonomy of art and the creative artist in provocative ways that lead, as we have seen, to INTRODUCTION ❦ 25 strong assertions about the relation of beauty, the inutility of art, and ornament.

Reed calls “a lightweight classicism” (75). Many of his works are set in antiquity (the novel Agathon, the verse narration Musarion [1768], the novel Die Abderiten [1774/80], and the musical drama Alkeste [1773]), but in ways that allowed him to explore Enlightenment issues in a foreign setting. As early as 1774 Goethe took Wieland to task for his inauthentic representation of the Greeks in a short farce entitled Götter, Helden und Wieland (Gods, Heroes and Wieland). Little did Goethe know that Wieland would graciously receive him a year later when he too moved to Weimar.

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