Saturday, December 11, 2004

renunciation

AS Byatt discusses Goethe in the Guardian. The bit that really got me was this one:

"The Wanderjahre, or (literally) journeyman years, follow the fate of Wilhelm, who in Goethe's earlier narratives, Wilhelm Meister's Theatrical Mission and the revised Wilhelm Meister's Apprentice Years, was concerned with self-discovery through the theatre, and also with the theatre as a means of moral and social cultivation. The theatre, in the world of the young hero, is the place where the bourgeois, who is normally only concerned with getting and spending, can acquire the aristocratic possibilities of "being" and "appearing". "

Do we have a mechanism today which serves that same purpose? Which can at least momentarily raise the bourgeois above the concerns of "getting" and "spending"? What could that be?

Byatt also draws the connection between Goethe and Sebald's masterwork, The Emigrants.

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