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Light in GermanyScenes from an Unknown Enlightenment$
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T. J. Reed

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226205106

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226205243.001.0001

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The Full Earth

The Full Earth

A Lyrical Enlightenment

(p.175) Chapter 10 The Full Earth
Light in Germany

T.J. Reed

University of Chicago Press

Undermining religion’s message did not entail gloom. The world when secularised still inspires wonder and delight, life deserves celebration. It duly receives it from the most powerful lyrical genius Germany has seen. Goethe’s tireless poetic productivity shows a way of seeing and being in which the ideals of the Enlightenment—the independent mind of the individual, the life of the senses and the emotions, freedom from outside direction, fulfilment in earthly activity—are lived out in exemplary fashion. Those ideals would hardly count if they were not capable of such realisation. And beyond all philosophical claims, the writing of this outstanding artist (dramatist and novelist too, but above all lyrical poet) has an unequalled richness and formal perfection. The account of the Enlightenment ends on a literary high.

Keywords:   fulfilment, secularisation, nature, gratitude, response, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italy, eroticism, summation

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