Sunday, January 1, 2012
Goethe & Muehlbach
I have been working my way through my great grandfather's set of Luisa Muehlbach's historical novels. I recently finished Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia; the copyright year is 1867. This seems to be a later reprint. The novels are very much of their time (no political correctness here, but out of context, there are certainly opinions I don't approve of).
There is a shocking scene where Napoleon and Josephine are arguing, and her little pug won't stop yapping. And he doesn't pick up the dog, or reprimand it. Napoleon crushes the dog's skull with his boot. Needless to say, he's not our hero.
The heroine of the book is the Prussian queen, Louisa. She goes through quite a hard time with the Napoleonic Wars. In Chapter 19 (The Queen at the Peasant's Cottage), Queen Louise recites a verse from Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, Goethe's second novel, published in 1796.
Who never ate his bread with tears-
Who never in the sorrowing hours
Of night lay sunk in gloomy fears-
He knows ye not, O heavenly powers!
Wer nie sein Brot mit Thraenen ass,
Wer nie die Kummervollen Naechte
Auf seinem Bette weinend sass,
Der kennt euch nicht, Ihr himmlischen Macht.
Muehlbach's novels are available for free on the web in English and German.
The painting is Goethe in the Roman Campagna, painted in 1786 by Johann Heinrich Tischbein. Goethe loved Italy; there is a museum about his time there in Rome.