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which the post-romantic era took up towards him. After Romanticism, came the age which is associated in literary bistory with • Young Germany,' an age of ascendant Hegel. ianism, of Jewish cosmopolitanism, of political aspiration; an age in which poetry, it is true, eschewed romantic extravagance, but, having nothing to offer in its place, became unimaginative and insipid. In this period, if Goethe was not held in direct contempt, he was at least tacitly removed from the pedestal on which the Romanticists bad placed him; and this notwithstanding the fact that he was no enemy of Hegelianism, and was the best friend of cosmopolitanism. Börne and Menzel expressed their dislike of Goethe openly; Gervinus cloaked it in a critical indifference. Nor did it at first appear as if the succeeding period would be more favourable to him. After • Young Germany' had had its day, came the pessimistic era in German thought and literature. Hegelianism still lay heavy upon the universities; but the new generation of poets and artists sought its inspiration, not in Hegel, but in Schopenhauer. This was again one of those times which, in Goethe's phrase, might be described as Germany emerging’; it was the epoch that began with the romantic Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and closed with the production of the Nibelung's Ring' at Bayreuth in 1876. In this period of pessimism, so far as it was merely pessimistic, there was naturally little room for Goethe's optimistic spirit; but it was not long before the romantic element which was inherent in Schopenhauer's pessimism discovered a certain elective affinity in Goethe. From this time forward, German criticism began to treat him with more sympathy and respect. Another cause which, in its way, contributed towards bringing Goethe into greater prominence, was the change which came over the German people with regard to their erstwhile national poet, Schiller. Schiller was no poet for a pessimistic age; in a purely romantic period his eighteenth-century spirit might possibly have been overJooked in the glow and splendour of his pictures, and the rhetorical swing of his language, but he was no food for men who had tasted the bitter-sweet of pessimism. The Schiller Centenary in 1859 had hardly been celebrated when Germany seemed with one accord to realise that Schiller was no writer for the nineteenth century--that he was, to quote again from Victor Hebn's volume, only a Klopstock, three times or even a hundred times magnified.' The Austrian Grillparzer, who combined with a dramatic genius hardly inferior to Schiller's an essentially modern and pessimistic Weltanschauung, might bave taken Schiller's place in the hearts of his countrv

but in those days Grillparzer was still practically unknown in North Germany. Consequently, from Schiller the younger generation turned directly to Goethe.

It might be said that in these years the German people were, with regard to their classical literature, in the position of a traveller journeying round a group of high mountains. One peak after another seems to him to rise above the rest, and it is only by degrees that it becomes clear to him which is really the highest. The middle of the century was well past before Germany fully comprehended that Goethe was the greatest poet its literature had known, Even Goethe's optimisin soon ceased to be a serious stumbling-block. To those who have left their mark upon the literature of that time pessimism was, after all, but a pis aller ; it offered a more or less satisfactory solution to the problem of life in a disheartening age. For such minds Goethe, the Olympian Goethe, who had risen to tranquil greatness, had a strong fascination. He may have been an optimist, but his optimism at times merged into fatalism. Goethe thoroughly believed in the divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will’; in his long life the word “entsagen' had played some part, but abwarten a still greater, and it might even be said, at the risk of seeming paradoxical, that his whole life-history had been a steady progress upwards towards a spiritual Nirvana, not of oblivion, but of unenvious rest and peace.

Since the war of 1870 the appreciation of Goethe has again entered upon a new stage; indeed, it was almost a matter of course that Goethe's memory should have shared in the general re-awakening of Germany in the last twenty-five years. The period of Goethe-Forschung' began, and the Goethe Society was founded. The exact study of Goethe's works by the light of philological criticism and philological methods was in itself no evil thing; but there was the obvious danger that the application of these methods to a modern poet would degenerate into futile hair-splitting. Although it cannot be said that the German Goethe specialists have kept themselves free from this reproach, they have at least given us a monument of their industry which will always be their best justification, namely, the great definitive edition of Goethe's works which is at present being produced under the auspices of the court of Weimar. When this magnificent series of volumes is coinpleted -and the end is still some years distant-Goethe will possess a memorial such as no other modern poet can boast of. In the meantime, he was not long left entirely to the philologists. A new literary generation was knocking at the door, and, with

the enthusiasm of youth, claiming Goethe as its own; to this generation it has been given to reinstate him as the intellectual head of his people. To sketch the rise of this epoch-this rebirth of the old Romanticism under the guise of individualism

- lies beyond the province of the present article. We would only point out that the new ideas filtered into Germany with the literature which had sprung up in Scandinavia from the ashes of Hegelianism, and that these ideas met on German soil with another and stronger current, the current of literary naturalism that had set in a little earlier from France. These currents united to form the basis on which the latest literary revival in Germany has arisen. The veteran novelist, Friedrich Spielhagen, was, we think, the first to compare the literature of the last ten years in Germany with the 'Sturm und Drang' of the eighteenth century; but the leaders of the revival had already felt, if not expressed, this affinity, and it created at once a bond of sympathy between them and Goethe. The young Goethe, the Goethe of Goetz' and · Werther,' became the patron saint of the new literary movement. The “ewige Wiederkehr,' to use Nietzsche's expression, had brought round again another of these periods of fermentation and convulsion in which the German spirit seems to renew its youth.

As the turbulence gradually subsided, other points of sympathy and congeniality with Goethe were discovered besides those of his youth. Now, at last, in the philosophy of selfassertion, in the insistence on the rights of the individual to the fullest development of which he is capable--this philosophy of which Nietzsche became the spokesman-Goethe's optimism and individualism received full and jubilant recognition. To Nietzsche himself Goethe was “this veritably great man, for whose sake one is bound to love Germany. Above all, it was Goethe's magnificent personality, his egotism, his ideals of self-culture, his dreams of a world-literature, which appealed most strongly to modern Germany. It would be difficult to over-estimate the boon which Goethe has been to the present generation of German writers and artists; he has been a kind of guiding star to them in their often blind enough gropings after a philosophic and artistic creed: an ever-present example of the higher intellectual life. No century can show so many examples as ours of men of genius to whom are applicable the words in which Goethe summed up the character of one of the most promising of his predecessors—Christian Günther : He never contrived to tame himself, and so his life ran to waste, like his poetry.' Goethe, by his wise self-control, by his • Lebens ernstes Führen,' escaped this fate, and his life stands

out as a great example of how it is to be escaped. At thirty he wrote to Lavater the memorable words :

The desire to raise as high as possible the pyramid of my existence, of which the base is given and laid for me, predominates over all else and hardly allows itself to be forgotten for a moment. I must not lose time; I am no longer in my first youth ; my destiny may break me in the middle, and the Tower of Babel will be left blunt and unfinished. At least it shall be said that it was boldly planned. If I live, my strength, God willing, will hold out to the top.

In one respect Goethe was highly favoured by fortune. If he is one of the greatest among men of letters, this is largely because he lived to put the last stone on the summit of the pyramid of his existence. It has often been said that Goethe's life was the grandest of his works, and this is, if we are not mistaken, the thought that is uppermost in the minds of our German contemporaries.

The fact that Goethe is acknowledged as a leader in the present literary movement in Germany has given the latter a stability and weight which one misses in the contemporary movements of other literatures. Germany has escaped the cynicism and Epicureanism which have done so much to degrade the iatest literature in France; it has escaped the refined and unnatural morbidezza which in Italy threatens to choke the growth of a healthy and genuinely national literature. At the same time, we cannot say that the . Deutsche Reich'in any way traces its origin or growth to Goethe; the minister of a petty provincial state did not occupy himself with Reichsgedanken, other than of an intellectual · Reich' embracing the whole world. But this much, at least, must be admitted, that if, along with the realisation of German political dreams, and alongside of the enormous material prosperity of the last twenty years in Germany, a healthy intellectual atmosphere has still been possible--if poetry has not been choked between a coercive militarism on the one side and a materialistic industrialism on the other-Goethe, and the influence which he continues to exert, must have some of the credit for it. The new and newest German literature, with its Sudermanns and Hauptmanns, has hardly yet achieved enough to allow us to speak of it in superlative terms, and, so far, it has added nothing to the masterpieces of the world's literature; but it is, at least, the healthiest of all the new or renewed literatures of Europe at the close of the century, and it has grown healthy in the shadow of Goethe.

It would seem, further, as if the literary revival of the last ten years had in turn reacted upon the study of Goethe, as if it were helping the latter to throw off the stigma of pedantic triviality which has lain upon it so long. The purely philological study of Goethe's works has exhausted itself, giving place to a personal study of the poet himself. The whole method of approaching Goethe seems, under the influence of Taine and Brandes, to have undergone a change. German literary criticism now takes a wider sweep, and no longer closes its eyes to the fact that genuine penetration more than compensates for the exhaustive accuracy which used to be its end and aim. For years Germany was content to remark with complacent acquiescence that the best biography of her greatest poet had been written by an Englishman; now there are at Jeast two excellent short biographies by German writers, which are worthy to take the place so long monopolised in Germany by Lewes's work.

It is, indeed, an altogether new spirit of criticism that breathes through books like Dr. R. M. Meyer's and Dr. A. Bielschowsky's biographies of Goethe. Both are in the best sense scholarly books, and yet, at the same time, they are free from that heaviness which is generally associated with scholarly work in Germany; they are attractively and even artistically written. It is difficult to decide which of them deserves the palm as the best · Life' of Goethe of moderate size that has yet appeared ; on the whole, we incline to Dr. Bielschowsky's, of which, however, the concluding volume has still to appear. This is a hearty, sympathetic book, full of consideration for the reader who wishes to be led by the hand, and to be taught to love and understand Goethe; as a popular biography it is the better of the two. Dr. Meyer, on the other hand, is a more brilliant writer; his criticism is fresh, vital, and modern. We may not always be in agreement with it, but it is always stimulating An objection to the work as a whole is the tendency-pardonable, perhaps, in a small book which aims at being more than a résumé of larger works—to assume familiarity in the reader with the more obvious facts and the current opinions of Goethe's life and work, and to turn with preference to aspects of the subject which appeal particularly to the critic himself. The fact that Dr. Meyer's work contributes something fresh to the stock of ideas about Goethe naturally gives it a claim to originality which small books do not often enjoy; and if it be objected that his method is apt to lead to the neglect of essentials, it may be answered that the study of Goethe has advanced in Germany to such a point that


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