The Flight to Italy: Diary and Selected Letters

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe; T. J. Reed | Go to book overview
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NOTE ON THE TEXT AND TRANSLATION

GOETHE'S original is preserved in the Goethe-Schiller-Archiv in Weimar and was first published in Tagebücher und Briefe Goethes aus Italien an Frau von Stein und Herder, ed. Erich Schmidt, Schriften der Goethe-Gesellschaft 2 ( Weimar, 1886). The text is unproblematic, and has been followed in all subsequent printings, including the volume imminent at the time of writing from the Stiftung deutscher Klassik in Weimar, in its complete edition of Goethe's diaries edited by Jochen Goltz, Wolfgang Albrecht, and Andreas Döhler ( Stuttgart: Metzler Verlag). Meantime there is the edition Tagebuch der Italienischen Reise, ed. Konrad Scheurmann and Jochen Goltz: vol. 1, facsimile; vol. 2, transcription with foreword ( Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1997). Anyone working on the Italian diary is indebted most of all to Christoph Michel paperback edition ( Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1976 and reprints), which has scholarship in depth on every aspect of the journey and of Goethe's life at the time. The commentary in vol. 14 of the Berlin edition of Goethe's works, edited by Hans-Heinrich Reuter ( Berlin: Aufbau, 1961), and the edition by Horst Rüdiger, Römische Elegien, Venezianische Epigramme, Tagebuch der Italienischen Reise (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1961) provided useful further points.

To keep the personal and period flavour of the Diary, I have retained Goethe's spelling of place-names, which is not always the modern form nor even consistent from one page to another; but his abbreviations have been resolved--'Carlsb.' into 'Carlsbad', etc. Discrepancies between Goethe's text and his tables of arrival and departure times have not been corrected. His mildly inaccurate French and Italian have similarly been left uncorrected. No attempt has been made to translate money values, the implication being clear from context--for example, that fruit is dear in Germany but cheap in Italy, or that the Emperor is getting a tidy sum for the trout-fishing rights at Torbole.

The selection from the letters is designed to take up the story of Goethe's Italian experience from his arrival in Rome onwards, to illustrate the wide range of his interests, and to show his continuing involvement with affairs back in Weimar.

-xxvi-

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