Goethe's Poetry and the Philosophy of Nature: Gott Und Welt 1798-1827

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, philosophy and theology come under increasing pressure owing to the emergence of the modern sciences. The collection Gott und Welt is Goethe's poetic contribution to this conflict, in which an alternative to orthodox Christianity was being sought. Following the collection's various stages of composition and publication, this study offers new readings of some of Goethe's best known poems: 'Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen', 'Dauer im Wechsel', 'Urworte. Orphisch' and 'Wiederfinden'. Sachers shows that Gott und Welt is the long poem on nature which Goethe attempted to write for the last third of his life. As such it represents Goethe's unique answers to the intellectual challenges posed by the dawning age of science. Regina Sachers is Lecturer in German at Exeter College, Oxford.