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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The late Goethe’s apparent total condemnations of what he called das Romantische have often been used to argue that, although Goethe lived through and influenced the period known as German Romanticism, he, like his friend Friedrich Schiller,did not belong to it. The middle phase of Goethe’s life (roughly 1786–1805) came to be defined as Weimar Classicism, a reassertion of Classical aesthetic models that rejected all things redolent of mysticism and the Middle Ages, which in the early nineteenth century meant all things Romantic. But with even a cursory investigation of Goethe’s famous remark on aesthetic health and sickness this narrative begins to unravel: only a few lines later he claims that the Nibelungenlied, that paragon of the mystical German Middle Ages, is klassisch and therefore healthy, suggesting that the surface opposition between the Classical and the Romantic is more complicated than one might have first thought.

Keywords: Classicism, Romanticism, self, world, poetry, medievalism, Goethe, Weimar.

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