Academic journal article Serbian Studies

A Meeting with Goethe

Academic journal article Serbian Studies

A Meeting with Goethe

Article excerpt

I was in Weimar eight days and can say that those were the most glorious days of my life up until now. I had a letter for Goethe from Grimm, in which he sent him a translation in German of the epic poem The Partition of Jaksices. I cannot ... say how much Grimm praised our epic poetry in that letter.

"From what I know of this genre," he said, "nothing can compare with Serbian poems: and the more a person tries to translate them faithfully, the more he realizes and feels the inadequacies and imperfections of our [German] language compared to this [Serbian]."

I gave the letter to Goethe's chamberlain in the evening, just as Goethe was getting ready to go out somewhere by coach. After the chamberlain had presented the letter to him, he said to me that His Excellency had told him that he would be especially pleased if I would call on him at two tomorrow.

When I came the following day, Goethe welcomed me from the middle of the room, and when after many compliments, we had sat down on the sofa on which lay unfolded Grimm's letter and the translation of The Partition of Jaksices together with an unwrapped bundle of newspapers, Goethe, putting his hand on the bundle of newspapers, said:

"You can see that you are not in my room for the first time today. …

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