Jane Austen and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Looking at my chronologically ordered bookshelf, a recent change it received after Olaf's constant waves of ideas upon the rocks of my mind, it dawned on me that the colourful copy of Jane Austen's Emma takes a radiant place right between my Reclam editions of Goethe's Faust I and II. How could that be? Why is it that reading Jane Austen I certainly don't feel as much at home as reading Siri Hustvedt but not quite as remote as when browsing through Goethe's masterpiece? Why is it that I consider Goethe to be the corner stone of German literature, laden with tradition and importance, yet, at the same time, experience so many difficulties trying to understand his text, feeling the need to consult secondary material, while Jane Austen's novels seem to speak to me without the urgent need for critical help?

The ominous year of 1750 comes to my mind and I wonder if more ideas will have filled my head after a lunch with Olaf. Anna Auguscik 13:27, 19 April 2007 (CEST)

Hm, as I said - you might be right and Goethe offers the more distant reading just as he preferred to address so much of an old (then new) secondary discourse, whilst Jane Austen did rather remain a general reading. Yet then I wonder: Our own reading of Jane Austen is likely to be new - inspired by the recent feminist re-discovery of female 18th-century authors.
Something else came to my mind: Goethe is, of course, a special person - take someone else, German, from the same period and things might look different. Take Byron or one of the "great" English authors and again the picture will look different. It might hence be of interest fo focus such a seminar rather on a decade and its own special wealth of materials. --Olaf Simons 20:39, 19 April 2007 (CEST)