THE PARABLE by Johann Wolfgang Goethe


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A bet canto translation of a little known ""tale of wonder"" mixing alchemy with poetry and the fancies of the fable with, of all things, Freemasonry. The translator has supplied not only an introduction but also a commentary; she first places The Parable against a biographical backdrop, Goethe's first decade at Weimar, and then illuminates the intricacies of characters and situations in the light of mythology, East and West, with which Goethe was apparently much taken. The story has the purity of a puzzle; it also, supposedly, plummets into the depths but just what philosophy or pre-Jungian psychology it explores we find a little difficult to discern. According to Mrs. Raphael, a variety of symbolic pilgrims, including Goethe in the form of a Melancholy Prince, for a variety of reasons seek out the Fair Lily, a personification of Isis; her touch is both life-healing and death-dealing. There are the usual mysteries and metamorphoses; in the end the regenerated Prince comes to realize that while Love does not rule ""it shapes and forms Man; and that is far more"". Thus the river between the two lands, that of the Lily and that of the pilgrims, is spanned, and a Temple, a sort of Heavenly City, arises. The temple, which may be Masonic, soon becomes ""the most frequented upon the face of the earth"". Mrs. Raphael has done a lyric, lustrous job and her interpretation of Goethe's parable should appeal to a select audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1963
ISBN: 1169227767
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World