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Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew$
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Jeffrey S. Librett

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262915

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262915.001.0001

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Goethe’s Orientalizing Moment (I):

Goethe’s Orientalizing Moment (I):

“Notes and Treatises for the Better Understanding of the West-East Divan

(p.73) Chapter 3 Goethe’s Orientalizing Moment (I)
Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew

Jeffrey S. Librett

Fordham University Press

This chapter is the first of two that together show how Goethe’s attempt to create the poetic illusion of a pure here and now (the Augenblick), in which passivity and activity are synthesized in a higher unity of the subject with the world, organizes his Orientalist project in the West-East Divan. Focused on the commentary volume Goethe added to his poetic cycle, this chapter shows how Christian typology structures Goethe’s views on the Orient. More narrowly, the chapter analyses Goethe’s reading of “Israel in the Desert,” and shows how Goethe positions his poetic wanderings in the Orient as a realization of the Israelites’ wanderings. The wandering away from supersessionist typology into rivalry with the Persian poets turns out to be its ultimate realization.

Keywords:   Goethe, West-East Divan, Persia, Old Testament, wanderings, Moses, Israelites, Historicism, Cassirer, Ernst, moment

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