Goethe and Hafiz

Shamel coverThis 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.

Shafiq Shamel (PhD, Stanford University) teaches German and Persian at the Defense Language Institute (USA).

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