difficulty which besets the most careful critical work.
It inevitably takes the color of the time; its study of the stars is astrology, not astronomy, to adopt Thoreau
points out, in his essay on German Romanticism, that we greatly err in supposing that Goethe
's early fame bore much comparison with his deserts.
He was, indeed, praised for ‘Werther
’ and ‘Gotz von Berlichingen
,’ but the romances of August La Fontaine
were in equal demand, and the latter, being a voluminous writer, was much more in men's mouths.
The poets of the period were Wieland
; and Kotzebue
ruled the stage.
Even forty years ago, I remember well, it was considered an open subject of discussion whether Goethe
was the greater name; and Professor Felton
of Harvard University took the pains to translate a long history of German literature by Menzel
, the one object of which was to show that Goethe
was quite a secondary figure, and not destined to any lasting reputation.
It was one of the objections to Margaret Fuller
, in the cultivated Cambridge
circle of that day, that she spoke