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The Idolatry of Poetic Genius in German Goethe Criticism

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Hans-Wilhelm Kelling

The conclusion of this study is reached that one of Germany's great creative artists has been widely idolized, that his work and ideas have been falsely interpreted, and that the real Goethe has frequently been turned into an idyllic myth. Many interpreters have no understanding of the loneliness and despair, the anxiety, the self-doubts, the struggles, pains, failures, and the denials out of which a great work of literature is consciously created and carefully formed. They merely observe in Goethe's works their own preconceived ideas and often superficial concepts, rejoicing in finding a spiritual ancestor whom they can claim as an authority and on whom they can rely to give to their own cause respectability.