Goethes Hohelied auf den Gärtner

Uwe Hentschel


This essay takes up the theme of gardening practices, which became significant both for daily life (among others Goethe, Wieland and Schiller had gardens) and literature (in texts by Goethe, Wezel and Merck among others) in the second half of the eighteenth century. The starting point is a short sequence from Goethe’s Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers in which the protagonist reports that he enjoys the “simple harmless delight of one who has brought a bundle of herbs to his table” that he has planted and harvested himself. This episode, trivial at first glance, is a particularly vivid example of non-alienated activity. This essay investigates the social causes that led to the wish to present such simple labor as desirable as early as the eighteenth century. It emerges that the gardening enthusiasts such as Goethe and Wieland attributed great value to the possibility of forming and accomplishing something self-reliantly, independently and above all holistically. (UH; in German)

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