Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reading Notes - Goethe - Die Wahlverwandtschaften



Spatial analysis

Here the emphasis is almost exclusively on cultivation of nature. There is very little of “wild” nature to be seen, though the castle is situated in a very natural setting. Hills, gardens, surround the castle and there are bits of water here and there, some of which are naturally occurring, but some of which are man-made or manipulated. Created lake eventually causes death of the (UNNATURAL) child. There is much talk of the natural order The cultivation projects undertaken by the Charlotte and her husband are seen as the epitome of the unity of cultivation and nature. Charlotte builds a garden house in just the spot that suits it – there is almost a sense of spatial predetermination in their landscaping projects. They plant/create things just where they ought naturally to have been. Introduction of the notion of elective affinities in Chemistry reflects interest in scientific pursuits, but also seems to predestine the couples to reconfigure themselves. The explanation of the chemical property of elective affinity introduces a geometrical configuration into the non-scientific/mathematical sphere of personal relationships. The scientific principle is explained geometrically, but the geometry (the square with diagonals cutting across it) is superimposed upon the personal relationships at stake.

Also, the interior space is very interesting. The castle itself seems to be partitioned off with feminine and masculine spaces. The unnatural child is conceived when Charlotte’s husband first transgresses those boundaries and enters her (feminine) space. Then there’s the renovation project that Ottilie undertakes with the tutor. They undertake to restore and redecorate the church and churchyard. Ottilie paints a lot of new paintings for the church which clearly weren’t original to the space but seem as if they belonged there – parallel to the gardening pursuits.

Unity between cultivation and nature is introduced right from the start with Wilhelm’s comment that some of his happiest hours were/are spent in his Baumschule. The cultivation of trees has a natural effect but is, in itself not a natural act. He talks about propfen – forced propagation of trees. The word Baumschule itself contains both the height of natural expression – Baum – and the height of sophisticated civilization – schule.

Formal/stylistic notes

Narrated in the 3rd person omniscient.

No comments: