Paola Giacomini

Reading Simmel's «Goethe» Today. Between Classicism and Modernity

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Keywords: Poetry; Science; Professionalism; Form; Life.

Reading the amazing intellectual biography "Goethe" (1913) by Georg Simmel is a paradoxical experience: the work is a landmark for the transformation of Goethe into a timeless personality, while that is denied by Simmel for any other individuality. Three aspects are highlighted. Firstly, Goethe against professionalism, in the realm of poetry and in that of science, in the sense of self-expression outside usual schemes. Secondly, the «practical» nature of the poet-scientist: perception is never passive, but always accompanied by original hypothesis. Thirdly, on the issue of the relation between life and forms, Simmel is inspired by Goethe's morphology but he misinterprets its significance: for Simmel, «form» is a crystallization of life, while it is its expression for Goethe.

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