06 March 2009

Romanticism and sentimentality; debate with self.

It has taken me far too long to discover Goethe.
At age 20, I have.
The writing of The Sorrows of Young Werther is, I feel, perfectly aligned with my sentiment. Werther's character is, heart and soul, impassioned to the point of self-destruction. He leaps from consuming love to utter hopelessness in an instant. Before choosing this book (quite on a whim), my reading of Romantic literature had been mostly limited to the British: Coleridge, Wordsworth, Clare, and so on... Having never studied German, I read it in English translation, yet the effect is there. Almost too overwhelming to handle, especially because I see so much of myself in young Werther. I may have issue declaring national identity, but I declare myself a full-blooded Romantic. All general statements from me such as these must exist with a disclaimer, of course: I am a Romantic, yet I am one living in and responding to a modern age. I would embrace Modernism if it could definitively be called a movement now though it would destroy me, as anyone. Word on the street is that Modernism's dead or something anyway. Post-modernism's by nature ambiguous. (I'm rambling.) Maybe I am a Pomo Romantic.
And in a fit of passion, as soon as I began Werther, my one objective became to finish it and promise myself a reread of it very often. A return to history... smacks of straight Modernism, don't it? Yet the lack of declaration above, in the guise of a statement of identity, must drive it into the prefix Post- realm...
Ha, looks like I need to be reading some David Foster Wallace now. Except it'll have to wait, since War and Peace is next on the list and there's a novel to command one's faculties.

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