's ‘Conversations with Goethe
’ that poet is represented as having said, in January, 1827, that the time for separate national literatures had gone by. ‘National literature,’ he said, ‘is now a rather unmeaning phrase (will jetzt nicht viel sagen
); the epoch of world-literature is at hand (die Epoche der Welt-Literatur ist an der Zeit
), and each one must do what he can to hasten its approach.’
Then he points out that it will not be safe to select any one literature as affording a pattern or model (musterhaft
); or that, if it is, this model must necessarily be the Greek.
All the rest, he thought, must be looked at historically, we appropriating from each the best that can be employed.
If this world-literature be really the ultimate aim, it is something to know that we are at least getting so far as to interchange freely our national models.
The current London