Chapter 8

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Jan de Vries

Jun 1, 2022, 8:52:51 PMJun 1
to Lotte in Weimar; book discussion

At last a chapter I can understand. Mann’s descriptions of internal dialogues are convincing. For instance (on my page 320) Charlotte’s hesitance to wear a pink bow on her white dress.

After the delays caused by various visitors, Charlotte finally meets her sister. They have much to talk about.

The list of guests was recorded and never thrown away, assuming Mann did not make it up. 

A nice string of nouns and adjectives: “an unmistakable conflict between statuesque dignity and … childlike vacillation , a sort of coquettish ambiguity”.

Goethe’s words of welcome to his guests are a monument of eloquence and tact.

Knowing that Mann was bisexual, places his detailed descriptions of male features in another context.

Descriptions of house and furniture convey that Goethe was wealthy. What made him wealthy ?

Remarkably, they drink red and white wine simultaneously.

The table-talk turns to the Jews and “the rare and special aptitudes of this extraordinary stock” . Goethe’s guests express their surprise over the combination of admiration and contempt for the Jews. They see an extraordinary likeness in the common perception of Jews and of Germans. Both are perceived and see themselves as the  “salt of the earth”. Consequently, they fear that one day the hatred will be released in an historic butchery. In 1820 that fear would have been very prescient. For Mann in 1940 it was hardly prescient.

Goethe tells about an artist who remained detached towards her talent; “ a tragi-comedy wherein the roles of modesty and superiority were inextricably mingled”.  An interesting observation; I have an example in my family.

Then an anecdote about kissing a painting behind glass. The recount  makes Lotte blush. Why?

In another room Goethe shows artifacts he assembled over the years and silhouettes of Lotte and children. All in all, a nice evening with interesting conversations at Goethe’s salon.


After reading English for about 75 years and living in the USA for 25 years, I still had to look up several words: whilom, anon. anent, neckerchief, pelerine, waistcoat, lintel, agraffe (in this case a clamp), caprice, ambrosial, famulus, opodeldoc, aught,

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