ok, FAUST: Goethe wrote the first version of "Faust" when he was 21. Like I said: show-off expecially with his later works. Given the fact that Goethe died at the age of 82 I think 21 is his "early creating period" and therefor I don't count "Faust, part I" as boring or show-off. Part 1 I don't...part 2 I do! But part 2 was published after his death in 1832; he worked on it to the very end and that would make it an example for my thesis: late stuff: boring and show-off!
The thing with part 1 is that he worked on that from the age of 21 to his late fifties, constantly changing things until it was exactly how he wanted it. The original version was found years after his death and had been published then. There are scenes missing that he later added to "Faust.Ein Fragment", first time it was published in the 1790s or so. But even that was not the last version: he added different scenes again and then in 1797 published "Faust.Eine Tragödie" - the version you probably now and love. I love it too! I think it's marvellous and genius! And if you read all three versions you can actually witness a transformation from "really good writer with original and stunning ideas" to "most genius German writer ever hard working on original and stunning ideas he had when he was younger" ...
and then came "Faust. Der Tragödie zweiter Teil" - (Faust, Part 2). When I was in school one had to pick two subjects as advanced/extension subjects. I joined German and Biology. Difference to other school subjects was that these advanced subjects were given 5 and not 2-3 hours a week and there were higher expectations of our intellectual performances and achievements. So while everybody in German basic-class only had to read "Faust.Part 1", we had to read the second part as well. On our holiday... I'm trying to say: maybe that fact helped the course of me not really liking the second part... To me, the second part of Faust: pure show-off and absolutely unconnected to the storyline he drew in the first part and although (again) beautifully written: not worth reading. In my opinion.
WERTHER: "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers"...he was 25 when he wrote that! So, yeah, beautiful, genius, made him famous almost instantly, many people committed suicide after having read it actually, giving a phenomenon a name: Werther-Effect (groundswell of suicides after a certain thing/action/happening being published/written about in the media/books). Goethe should be proud of himself - no, really, I like it very much and I think you are right with everything you say about it but again: early work! 25!
Same goes for the poems "Prometheus" (25) and "Erlkönig" (33), both of which I very, very much like.
When Helmut Kohl (chancellor a.D.) hold a speech in the Knesset he spoke of "the mercy of late birth". This is of course a saying that best pertains to Germans being born after 1945 - for many reasons. (He said that in 1984 so I'm taking it personally ) But originally it wasn't just meant for Germans after 1945, it meant everyone throughout human history. For me it means that judging older people or historical events or past in general by modern standards and by present knowledge should be done very carefully and that we, who were born later are experiencing the mercy of the late birth because we know more and so we know better. At least we could and should know better. For me the mercy here is having the opportunity to enlarge and increase my wisdom and knowledge by not being forced to do the same mistakes as older generations and/or profit from their conclusions that turned out to be right. The new generation can dare to reach higher because they can do that from their parents backs...
The really impressive thing about Goethe is that one can still learn from him. He has been dead for 180 years, he never saw a computer, a car, an aeroplane, a submarine or a woman working and living alone but still he was such a good observer of human nature that one can learn from his down-written wisdom even by present standards. There are things that don't change and human nature is one of it.
“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates - just proving my point
So much from me concerning Goethe. Let ME show-off a little bit here: extension subject German really made an impact on me: I actually didn't have to look up ANYTHING, I just still knew it...frightening...
I leave you with this, hope I made myself clear about my opinion about Goethe and I'm looking forward to your comments.
I have a question concerning James Joyce (I know he's Irish but still, he wrote in English). I just tried to read "Ulysses" in English and I simply don't get it...I just don't understand it. Is it my bad English or is it Joyce? Is it worth reading it in English or should I buy a German translation? Help! *ahrg*