Plot[ edit ] The book is situated around the city of Weimar.
Plot[ edit ] The book is situated around the city of Weimar. Goethe's main characters are Eduard and Charlotte, an aristocratic couple both in their second marriage, enjoying an idyllic but semi-dull life on the grounds of their rural estate. They invite the Captain, Eduard's childhood friend, and Ottilie, the beautiful, orphaned, coming-of-age niece of Charlotte, to live with them.
The decision to invite Ottilie and the Captain is described as an "experiment" and this is exactly what it is. The house and its surrounding gardens are described as "a chemical retort in which the human elements are brought together for the reader to observe the resulting reaction.
In the late 19th century, German sociologist Max Weberwho had read the works of Goethe at the age of 14, used Goethe's conception of human "elective affinities" to formulate a large part of sociology.
Goethe used this as an organizing metaphor for marriageand for the conflict between responsibility and passion. In the book, people are described as chemical species whose amorous affairs and relationships were pre-determined via chemical affinities similar to the pairings walter benjamin wahlverwandtschaften essay help alchemical species.
Goethe outlined the view that passion, marriage, conflict, and free will are all subject to the laws of chemistry and in which the lives of human species are regulated no differently from the lives of chemical species.
The first marriages, for both Eduard and Charlotte, are described as having been marriages of financial convenience, essentially arranged marriages. Specifically, when they were younger, Eduard was married off to a rich older woman through the workings and insatiable greed of his father; Charlotte, likewise, when her prospects were none the best, was compelled or obliged to marry a wealthy man, whom she did not love.
In the fourth chapter, the characters detail the world's first ever verbally-depicted human double displacement chemical reaction. The chapter begins with description of the affinity map reaction map or 'topographical chart' as Goethe calls it. On this reaction map, we are told that on it 'the features of the estate and its surroundings were clearly depicted, on quite a large scale, in pen and in different colors, to which the Captain had give a firm basis by taking trigonometrical measurements'.
Next, to explain the reaction, we are told: Imagine an A intimately united with a B, so that no force is able to sunder them; imagine a C likewise related to a D; now bring the two couples into contact: A will throw itself at D, C at B, without our being able to say which first deserted its partner, which first embraced the other's partner.
You, Charlotte, represent the A, and I represent your B; for in fact I do depend altogether on you and follow you as A is followed by B.
The C is quite obviously the Captain, who for the moment is to some extent drawing me away from you.
Now it is only fair that, if you are not to vanish into the limitless air, you must be provided with a D, and this D is unquestionably the charming little lady Ottilie, whose approaching presence you may no longer resist.
Readers fiercely debate the role of the chemical theory of elective affinities presented in the novel. Some argue that it suggests a philosophy of nature that is rooted in fate. Others maintain that it is about free choice.
Others believe that the chemical theory is merely a structural device that allows the author to foreshadow events in the novel and bears no relevance to the greater issues of the novel.
It is renowned as an exemplary instance of Benjamin subjecting his literary subject matter to a process of intensive dialectical mediation. In the essay, which attacks Goethe's prose style and intentions, Benjamin argues for the possibility of the transcendence of mythic thinking which he locates in the medium of Goethe's prose in favour of the possibility of an as yet unencountered and, in principle, unimaginable "freedom".
Typically, Benjamin locates this experience in art, which is, according to him, alone able, through mediation, to transcend the powers of myth. A description by Gordon Burgess can be found in German life and letters, April The play Arcadiaby British playwright Tom Stoppardis a modern-day remake of Elective Affinities, albeit with a twist.
The play takes place in modern times andGoethe's time; characters are replaced subtly, e. Robin Gordon's short story "Leaves in the Wind" adapts the story to modern England, with Edward and Charlotte as an academic couple.
The film Sometime in August directed by Sebastian Schipper is loosely based on Goethe's novel and transposes the story to modern-day Germany. It is one of his important early essays on German Romanticism.
She then becomes Jim's lover. In Michael Ondaatje's novel, Anil's Ghost, the book is discussed as being placed with other novels in the doctors' common room of a Sri Lankan hospital, but remaining unread.
Book Review of Goethe's Elective Affinities. Abstract from the article that appears in Prometheus Narrative () Walter Benjamin's essay on Goethe's Die Wahlverwandtschaften [The Elective Affinities] is widely acknowledged as "standard-setting" in the reception history.
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Elective Affinities (German: Die Wahlverwandtschaften), also translated under the title Kindred by Choice, is the third novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in The title is taken from a scientific term once used to describe the tendency of chemical species to combine with certain substances or species in preference to others.
The novel is based on the metaphor of human passions. Did you know that you can help us produce ebooks by proof-reading just one page a day?
Go to: Distributed Proofreaders. Walter Benjamin Wahlverwandtschaften Essay Help. Project MUSE – Character, Silence, and the Novel: Walter Character, Silence, and the Novel: Walter Benjamin Eduard hopes to help his capable friend the In the Wahlverwandtschaften essay, Benjamin explains and Elective Affinities – WikipediaFrom the time of its publication to today.
Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften (Goethe's Elective Affinities, ) Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of German Tragic Drama, ) Einbahnstraße (One Way Street, ) For Walter Benjamin – Documentation, Essays and a Sketch including: New Documents on Walter Benjamin's Death.