Part one of my Goethe pilgrimage took me to Leipzig and Weimar. But my love of Goethe began with Werther, and for that I needed to visit Wetzlar and Wahlheim (Garbenheim). Wetzlar is where Goethe interned at the court and fell in love with Charlotte Buff, the model for Lotte in the novel. In spite of Goethe’s admiration, she stuck to her engagement and married her fiance Johann Kestner. (Goethe actually bought their wedding rings in Frankfurt.) Goethe’s friend Karl Jerusalem also inspired the character of Werther with his suicidal love for a married woman. He lived and died in Wetzlar.
“I walked across the court to a well-built house, and, ascending the flight of steps in front, opened the door, and saw before me the most charming spectacle I had ever witnessed. Six children, from eleven to two years old, were running about the hall, and surrounding a lady of middle height, with a lovely figure, dressed in a robe of simple white, trimmed with pink ribbons. She was holding a rye loaf in her hand, and was cutting slices for the little ones all around, in proportion to their age and appetite.” (June 16)
“I felt myself more than mortal, holding this loveliest of creatures in my arms, flying, with her as rapidly as the wind, till I lost sight of every other object; and O Wilhelm, I vowed at that moment, that a maiden whom I loved, or for whom I felt the slightest attachment, never, never should waltz with any one else but with me, if I went to perdition for it!” (June 16)
A tour guide dressed as Lotte
I just missed the premiere of this new musical!
Lotte’s house. Inside are pictures of her family and some of her belongings (including her harpsichord)
Memorial stone to the Kestner family
Continue reading Wallfahrt to Wahlheim
(First things first: If you don’t know what the title is referring to, go watch the excellent Danny Kaye movie musical Hans Christian Andersen. This post will still be here when you finish.)
I’m in love. I’ve never felt as strong an urge to stay and live in a city as I did in Copenhagen. I can’t quite explain why. The beautiful green spaces? The good infrastructure? The fish-based cuisine? The lingering traces of Kierkegaard’s presence? I know it gets awfully cold in the winter, and I probably wouldn’t like that, but on this trip it seemed like the perfect city.
Authors, philosophers, and other famous people
Have I mentioned on this blog how much I love Kierkegaard? I know it’s one of those totally unoriginal teenage obsessions, but I can’t help it! So of course tracking down Kierkegaard-related sites was a priority during my time in Copenhagen. I didn’t go quite as far as this author, but I made sure to see his grave, his statue, and the exhibit about him in the Museum of Copenhagen. The latter was small but really cool—it organized paraphernalia from his life into different categories of love. These were paired with relevant quotes from his works (of course, Works of Love and his notes played a large part) and with objects and stories submitted by current Copenhageners. The Regine Olsen episode of Kierkegaard’s life is fascinating, so I loved how much emphasis it got. The city’s other famous author, Hans Christian Andersen, is in the same cemetery. One of his stories is also commemorated in the city’s most famous attraction (supposedly the most disappointing attraction in Europe), the harbor statue of the Little Mermaid.
The grave of Hans Christian Andersen
Copenhagen’s famous “Little Mermaid” statue, inspired by the Andersen story
The grave of Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard’s original gravestone, now in the Museum of Copenhagen
The only remaining lock of Kierkegaard’s hair, in the Museum of Copenhagen
The cupboard Kierkegaard bought to house all his mementoes of Regine. The Museum of Copenhagen also has their engagement ring (which he wore for the rest of his life when she sent it back to him)
Statue of Kierkegaard in the Royal Library Garden—which, incidentally, is so gorgeous that I would definitely recommend it as a location to sit outside and read Kierkegaard
Not an author or philosopher, but kind of important: the grave of Niels Bohr
Continue reading Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!