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Goethe and Hafiz

Poetry and History in the "West-östlicher Divan</I>

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Shafiq Shamel

This book offers a study of West-East cross-cultural and cross-contextual literacy by investigating Goethe’s relationship to the poetics of fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz in the West-östlicher Divan. Goethe’s collection of poetry, this book argues, constitutes a turning point in the history of German poetic subjectivity. The intellectual and historical significance of the Divan is examined by considering Goethe’s conception of history both in relation to Hegel’s philosophy of history as well as the linear notion of progress throughout the nineteenth century. Furthermore, the book demonstrates how the rise of aesthetics and the transition from a theological to a secular-humanistic conception of history and humanity in Europe positively influenced the reception of non-European literatures at the end of the eighteenth century. Hafiz, as argued here, owes his textual presence in the Divan to a cross-cultural and cross-temporal poetic vision that has its roots in the European Enlightenment. The book also elaborates on the role translation plays in the development of poetry and poetics as exemplified in the works of Sir William Jones (1746-1794) and Josef Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), translators of Oriental poetry into English and German.

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Chapter 5 The Precondition: Hammer-Purgstall in Vienna

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In his book on Arabic studies in Europe, Johann Fück writes: Während in Frankreich durch den Verlauf der politischen Entwicklung bereits zu Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts die Voraussetzungen für eine von kirchlicher Bevormun- dung freie Arabistik geschaf fen worden waren, verblieb diese in den deutschen Hoch- schulen nach wie vor in der untergeordneten Stellung, welche die sacra philologia den orientalischen Studien insgemein zuwies. Das hatte zur Folge, daß nicht bei den berufenen Vertretern der Wissenschaft, sondern in den Laienkreisen des gebildeten Bürgertums das neue, von der Aufklärung geformte Orientbild zuerst zur vollen Anerkennung kam, und daß es Liebhaber waren, welche dem Studium des Orients ihre Muße widmeten. Der bedeutenste Vertreter dieser Richtung is Josef [sic] von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856).1 Despite the fact that Hammer-Purgstall was educated in Austria and Fück’s observation refers to German universities, nonetheless, his comment does emphasize a crucial point insofar as Hammer-Purgstall’s educational status in Oriental languages is concerned.2 Hammer-Purgstall himself used the term ‘Liebhaber’ to describe his relation to Oriental languages and cultures. Fundgruben des Orients, a journal founded in 1809 by Hammer-Purg- stall and others publishing Arabic, Persian and Turkish literary works in 1 Johann Fück, Die arabischen Studien in Europa bis in den Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1955) 158. My emphasis. 2 The most recent study on the status of research on Oriental languages and cultures in Europe in the nineteenth century also agrees with Fück’s observation with regard to...

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