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Pandaemonium Germanicum

On-line version ISSN 1982-8837


LASCH, Markus. "His works forsake him as the birds forsake the nest in which they were hatched": on art, renouncement and death in Goethe’s Elective Affinities. Pandaemonium ger. [online]. 2012, vol.15, n.19, pp.109-121. ISSN 1982-8837.

At the beginning of the second part of Goethe’s Elective Affinities the narrator draws a parallel between life and the stroke of art in the poet in order to replace, in an epic poem, the protagonists for figures hitherto scarcely observed, thereby justifying the increasing importance of the architect in the sequence of the novel. This young artist links to his art a hope for permanence, for survival. Ottilie disagrees in the notes of her diary. She sees in the ruins of the churches and the wreckage of the gravestones not only proof of the transitoriness of this life, but also of the extinction of a second existence post mortem: "Time will not allow itself to be cheated of its rights over men or over monuments". Based on Walter Benjamin’s essay on the Elective Affinities and considering another magnum opus by Goethe, Faust, this article discusses the aspects of art, renouncement and death in the poet’s work.

Keywords : Elective Affinities; Benjamin; Art; Renouncement; Death.

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