General Assembly of the Goethe Society

Rudolf Steiner, Chronicle of the Vienna Goethe-Verein, V. Band, 6th ed., No. 5, May 25, 1891
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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE GOETHE SOCIETY

This year's General Assembly of the Goethe Society May 8, 1891 was a particularly solemn celebration, as it took place in the middle of the feast week, dedicated to the memory of that important moment for German art, as the Weimar Court Theater opened a hundred years ago under Goethe's direction has been. The unity of both festivals also found a special expression in the fact that Prof. Suphan, the director of the Goethe-Archiv, was in a position to report on an important record finding, which refers to Goethe's theater management. The meeting was very numerous visited. Her Royal Highnesses, the Grand Duke, the Grand Duchess, the Grand Duke and the Grand-Grand-Duchess, as well as the Princesses Auguste and Olga of Saxe-Weimar, honored the congregation with their visit. Foreign guests were present: Minister von Goßler, Privy Councilor von Loeper, Wildenbruch, Bodenstedt, Spielhagen, Julius Wolff, W. Freiherr von Biedermann, Privy Councilor Freiherr von Bezecny, Lud. Aug. von Frankl, Erich Schmidt, Jul. Rodenberg and many others. It was chaired by Privy Councilor Loeper, who welcomed the company and expressed regret that the president of Simson was prevented from appearing due to health concerns. Privy councilor Hofrat Dr. Ruland the annual report, which showed that the number of members at 31 December 1890 amounted to 2988; the assets of the company on that day amounted to 37,289 marks, of which 21,396 marks serve as reserve funds.

As Christmas presents became a publication for the members of the Goethe-Gesellschaft about Goethe's relationship to the Weimar Theater on the basis of the above-mentioned documentary evidence of Dr.-Ing. C. A. H. Burkhardt and dr. Julius Choose promised. The keynote speech was given by Prof. dr. Valentin from Frankfurt a. M. "On the classic Walpurgis Night". The lecturer endeavored to refute those views which in Goethe's "Faust" everywhere want to see contradictions and defects in the unified composition of the same. In spite of many gaps and unevenness in the course of the action, Faust was a self-consistent, unified poetry. He is the counterpart to Wilhelm Meister. But while in the latter work the poet lets his heroes find in the real world the goal of his endeavor, he places in Faust's soul such a tremendous urge for human perfection that it becomes impossible to gratify him in this finite world. Faust's quest is for an infinite, eternal. But after such, which is not only the sum of everything finite, but goes into the depth of all essence. Me-phistopheles can not understand the latter. He only knows that former infinity. Hence he leads Faust from enjoyment to enjoyment. But what Faust seeks, he can not grant him. Therefore, the role of Mephistopheles changes in the course of the play. He becomes the leader of Faust, whom he was in the first part, and in the second part of the henchman, who brings in the external means for Faust's higher purposes, which latter he no longer suspects. He gives Faust the key to the homes of the mothers, but remains completely uncertain about his fate in this spiritual kingdom. Faust finds in Mephistopheles's "Nothing" the meaning picture of all beauty, Helena, and brings it to the upper world, but at first only as a dream image, as a shadow. It needs the incarnation, the bodily existence. This can only be achieved by creating from the forces of nature a human germ capable of changing the shadow of beauty to real life. This is the homunculus. He becomes the leader of Faust in classical antiquity, dissolves there to continue to work as that force that shapes the bodies of nature's elements around the spirit of Helena. So Faust is in possession of this only woman; he alone can not be satisfied, for no finite, whether in the past or in the present, can satisfy him. Only when he wants to banish all magic from his life, when he renounces any finite, selfish enjoyment and lives only in the anticipation of a happiness that he has created but no longer enjoys, he has reached the highest moment to which he would like to say: "Stay, you are so beautiful". Faust's soul is lost to Mephistopheles, who believed that he could hold on to finite pleasures.

This lecture was followed by Prof. Suphan's messages about the files found. These are a large part of the old theater archive. They were found in a barely accessible corner of the part of the castle known in Weimar under the name of the "Bastille" and by S. königl. Your Highness made the Grand Duke a gift to the Goethe and Schiller archives on December 24, 1890. There are seventy-eight bands de and fascicles. One part consists of the so-called "directing files", that is the documents that are available from the management of the Court Theater Commission established in 1797. This commission consisted of Goethe, von Luck and Kirms, later Goethe, Kirms and Kruse. The second part are the files of the branch stages, which were played in the summer time by the members of the Weimar Theater. 35 volumes belonging to it refer to the Lauchstädter Theater and are from the years 1791 to 1814. In this series, the documents relating to the famous Leipzig guest performance of 1807 are included. Three volumes relate to the theater in Halle since 18n, seven Erfurt (1791-95 and 1815), ten Rudolstadt (1794-1805), one Jena, three Naumburg. A large part of these documents is dictated and reviewed by Goethe. A manuscript of the prelude "What We Bring" (from the hand of the writer's mind) is in the midst of the files, as well as 44 letters from Goethe to Kirms, 34 to other persons. The former treat not only purely business but also objects of literary and artistic interest. Schiller's letters also belong to the collection, one in which he expresses his approval for the Wallenstein performance in Lauchstädt. The relationship of Karl August to the theater is evident from many documents. Of particular importance are those pages which show the care with which Goethe directed the theater and how nothing was too small for him to deal with. *

According to these reports, Prof. Suphan gave the special report on the Goethe Archive and Goethe -

* The mentioned publication of the Goethe Society, which will approach the members as this year's Weihnachtsgabe, is to lead the title: "Documents to the history of Goethe theater management 1791 to 1817", of CAH Burkhardt and J. Wählel library.

With regard to the former, it was emphasized that in recent times the scientific literary content of Goethe was also sighted and processed for output. The work of Prof. Bardelebens from Jena and the writer of these lines have progressed so far that probably during the course of this year the readers of the Weimar Goethe Edition will see a larger part of the discovered estate. He will make a major contribution to making the pioneering work of Goethe in the scientific field finally clear even to the greatest doubters. Goethe tackled the morphology in such a way that it has not yet been overtaken by scholarship; In the field of osteology there are works on the skulls of mammals and the form of animals, with which a method is introduced into anatomy, which only decades later was recognized by Merkel and others as the right one.

The library became particularly valuable through purchases of valuable pieces the older literature and increased by numerous donations. On the part of the Grand Duke, 106 letters from Wieland have been donated to the Archive. A significant enrichment has experienced the same by the acquisition of the manuscript estate of Otto Ludwigs, which is edited by Erich Schmidt.

Privy Councilor Ruland now refunded the report on the Goethe National Museum. The general assembly was followed by a communal lunch, with which Minister Gross to the Emperor, Privy Councilor von Loeper to the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess, Erich Schmidt to the Weimar Theater and Minister von Goßler put on the Goethe Society drinking spells. Ludw. Aug. von Frankl delivered a festive greeting from Vienna. The festival ended with a performance of Paul Heyse's new play The Bad Brothers in the Hoftheater.

© Tom Last 2017