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Goethe's Fantasies about the Orient

Goethe's Fantasies about the Orient Page 164 Walter Veit Monash University Exotisch, which entered the German language only in the eighteenth century,1 was used by Goethe as a way of referring to artificially introduced exogenous plants and animals, and he disregarded its etymological meaning of “extraordinarily strange and unknown.” That meaning, however, explains why “exotic” had resonances similar to those of “Oriental.” Heyse’s Fremdwörterbuch [Dictionary of Foreign Words] (1859) shows that it was in the nineteenth century that the meanings of these words became colored by judgmental attitudes toward the Orient — at opposite extremes, either rejection of or enthusiasm for everything foreign. Goethe’s relationship to the Orient (here defined as including the Near East) was marked by a contradictory attitude. On the one hand, he was drawn to Oriental subjects during his whole career. Already among the famous hymnic poetry of his youth we find a poem entitled “Mahomets-Gesang” [“Mohammed’s song”] (1774);2 some of the best poems of Goethe’s later years are to be found in the collection entitled West-Östlicher Divan [West-Eastern Divan] (1815); and his Orientalism continued in two shorter lyrical sequences, the Indian trilogy Paria (1824), and the Chinesisch-deutschen Jahres- und Tageszeiten [Chinese-German Seasons and Times of Day] (1830). On http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Eighteenth-Century Life Duke University Press

Goethe's Fantasies about the Orient

Eighteenth-Century Life , Volume 26 (3) – Oct 1, 2002

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0098-2601
eISSN
1086-3192
DOI
10.1215/00982601-26-3-164
Publisher site
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Abstract

Page 164 Walter Veit Monash University Exotisch, which entered the German language only in the eighteenth century,1 was used by Goethe as a way of referring to artificially introduced exogenous plants and animals, and he disregarded its etymological meaning of “extraordinarily strange and unknown.” That meaning, however, explains why “exotic” had resonances similar to those of “Oriental.” Heyse’s Fremdwörterbuch [Dictionary of Foreign Words] (1859) shows that it was in the nineteenth century that the meanings of these words became colored by judgmental attitudes toward the Orient — at opposite extremes, either rejection of or enthusiasm for everything foreign. Goethe’s relationship to the Orient (here defined as including the Near East) was marked by a contradictory attitude. On the one hand, he was drawn to Oriental subjects during his whole career. Already among the famous hymnic poetry of his youth we find a poem entitled “Mahomets-Gesang” [“Mohammed’s song”] (1774);2 some of the best poems of Goethe’s later years are to be found in the collection entitled West-Östlicher Divan [West-Eastern Divan] (1815); and his Orientalism continued in two shorter lyrical sequences, the Indian trilogy Paria (1824), and the Chinesisch-deutschen Jahres- und Tageszeiten [Chinese-German Seasons and Times of Day] (1830). On

Journal

Eighteenth-Century LifeDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2002

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