The nature (essay)

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The fragment Die Natur is an essay , the authorship of which was often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , which is probably wrong. It is stated that Georg Christoph Tobler is the author. The text was written around 1782 and first appeared in 1784 in the 32nd part of the Tiefurter Journal.


The first lines of the fragment:

"Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by it - unable to step out of it and unable to get deeper into it. Unasked and unwarned, she takes us into the cycle of her dance and drifts away with us until we are tired and fall from her arms. It creates new shapes forever, what is there has never been, what was, never comes back - everything is new, and yet always the old. We live in the middle of it and are strangers to it. She speaks to us incessantly and does not tell us her secret. We constantly work on them and yet we have no power over them. "

- presumably Georg Christoph Tobler : The nature

Goethe later on the authorship in a letter:

“That article was communicated to me recently from the post of the eternally venerated Duchess Anna Amalia; it is written by a well-known hand whom I used in my business in the eighties. In fact, I cannot remember that I wrote these reflections, but they probably agree with the ideas to which my mind had developed at that time. I would like to call the level of insight at that time a comparative that is forced to express its direction against a superlative that has not yet been reached. One sees the tendency to a kind of pantheism, in which the world phenomena are fundamentally thought of as an inscrutable, unconditional, humorous, self-contradicting being, and may well be considered a game that is bitterly serious. "

- Goethe : to the Chancellor v. Müller


An English translation of the essay was published in the first issue of the journal Nature on November 4, 1869.

Individual evidence

  1. Goethe. Complete edition of the works and writings in twenty-two volumes, Volume 18, JG Cotta'sche Buchhandlung, Stuttgart, 1959
  2. ^ Goethe's works. Hamburg edition in 14 volumes. Volume 13, Hamburg 1948
  3. ^ Thomas Henry Huxley : Goethe: Aphorisms on Nature. In: Nature. November 4, 1869, accessed October 29, 2014 .


  • Holger Dainat: Goethe's 'Nature' or: 'What is an author?' In: Klaus Kreimeier , Georg Stanitzek (eds.): Paratexts in literature, film, television. Akademie, Berlin 2004 ( LiteraturForschung series , edited by Eberhard Lämmert , Sigrid Weigel ), ISBN 3-05-003762-8 , pp. 101–116.
  • Veit Noll: 'Goethe's' natural fragment. In: Veit Noll: Two participants in the Weimar culture around Anna Amalia and Goethe in the period from 1775 to 1785. Essays with reference to Johann August von Einsiedel (1754–1837) and Emilie von Werthern (1757–1844) on Goethe and Anna Amalia . Egon Wogel, Salzwedel 2009, pp. 5–23; 129-131.