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Speaker: Carol Tully (Bangor)

Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre appeared in 1795/6, two decades after the publication of F.J. Bertuch’s translation of Cervantes’ Don Quijote and three years before Tieck’s seminal translation of the same. Both novels famously feature errant protagonists with complex lives and problematic love interests. Yet there is undoubtedly more to say about the interplay between these two works. The question has been addressed before; for example, Hübner, writing in 1950, notes the 'influence of the great Spaniard' in both the Lehrjahre and Die Wahlverwandtschaften. How does that influence manifest itself, however? This comparative paper offers a more detailed exploration of the potential links. The initial focus will be contextual, with a discussion of Goethe’s reception of Cervantes’ work and the critical responses of 'Goetheforschung' to this meeting of great minds across the centuries. Following on from this, the paper will explore parallels between the texts, building in particular on the work of Barry Ife on Quijote, in relation to the use of voice (especially song), dissembling (ventriloquy), and narrative irony in the Lehrjahre to answer the question posed in the title: Are Meister and Quijote indeed singing from the same hymn sheet?

This lecture will be held in person (Room G37, Senate House) and will be streamed live via Zoom. 

Attendance is free. Advance registration is essential.