|In a scene reported by German writer Heinrich Laube (1806-1884):|
“A women friend of mine said to Goethe at that time: ‘I cannot approve of Elective Affinities, Herr von Goethe; it really is an immoral book!’ According to her report Goethe was silent for a while and then said with great earnestness:
But you wrong me and the book. The principle illustrated in the book is true and not immoral.
But you must regard it from a broader point of view and understand that the conventional moral norms can turn into sheer immorality when applied to situations of this character.”
|The Goethe late December 1809 "best book" incident, wherein he tells correct that the human physical chemistry principle contained in his Elective Affinities are true. |
“The first and last thing which is required of genius is the love of truth.”
“The principle illustrated in the book is true.”
“The tale is, in a word, of the simple construction and genial and moderate character of the "Vicar of Wakefield" rather than in the exciting style of Dickens' Christmas Carols: but, everywhere, the interest is skilfully kept up, and the subtle insinuation of a great revolutionary doctrine pervades the whole, and to the thoughtful reader makes the chief point of interest. Doctrines, however, which are here merely insinuated and illustrated by allusions to science, are now so openly expounded and advocated that a portion of the community will regard the great German as too conservative, while yet, doubtless, to the great mass of readers, the radical element may startle, and in some instances offend.
If this fundamental thought of the man who has proved to be the seer or prophet of science in so many other things, is also a scientific truth, the fact cannot be appreciated by the world too soon, nor its immense sweep of consequences be too clearly foreseen and provided for. It will affect the whole scope of morals and social order, whether we accept it in our theories or not, and the less hurtfully and the more beneficently, in proportion as we thoroughly study and understand the subject.”
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”