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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Journey Toward Self-Discovery: Goethe's “West-östlicher Divan” and the Future of East and West
by Goplen, Jesse Yates, M.A., University of California, Davis, 2012, 95; 1519692
Abstract (Summary)

Goethe's West-östlicher Divan often elicits contradictory responses – for some, it is a beacon of tolerance and engagement, and for others, an appropriating Orientalist discourse. In this essay I argue that both definitions apply to different portions of the work: the voice of der alte Dichter himself speaks in the poems, whereas Goethe affects the Orientalist mode of discourse that characterizes his source materials in the "Noten und Abhandlungen." Goethe's own label for his undertaking in the Divan, Hegire, is discussed, as well as the Islamic context of the essays and the reactions of readers from Hegel and Nietzsche to the present, with a primary focus on the evolution of Edward Said's perspective on the Divan and the relevance of the work for today's Europe. While the prose portion of the Divan may devolve into Orientalist discourse, I argue that the work as a whole does not contradict Goethe's assertions that he believes in the truth of Islam. Rather than rejecting or distancing himself from Islam, as some have claimed, Goethe saw his own worldview and aesthetic principles confirmed in the Qur'an and the poetry of Hafez.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Krimmer, Elisabeth
Commitee: Anooshahr, Ali, Finney, Gail
School: University of California, Davis
Department: German
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 51/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Germanic literature, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Divan, Edward Said, German, Goethe, Islam, Orientalism
Publication Number: 1519692
ISBN: 978-1-267-65751-0
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