Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume I, 1906-1950 (Vol 1)

To Max Rychner

Dear Dr. Rychner 28 February 1932

Here are my answers to your questions about Goethe:

  1. My mother drew my attention to Faust when I was about 15 years old.

  2. Goethe was important to me because of Faust.

  3. As a “poet,” perhaps Holderlin.

  4. In my circle Faust is an object of lively interest. I once knew a wholesaler who always carried a pocket edition of Faust around with him.

Young people today try to be unhistorical. Goethe does not seem to mean much to them because, for them, he is too close to the fishy ideals of the 19th century.

Everything to do with the masses is hateful to me. Anything popularized becomes common. Above all I would not disseminate Goethe, rather cook books.

Apart from a few poems, the only thing of Goethe’s that is alive for me is Faust. For me this was always a study-for relaxation I prefer English novels.

Everything else of Goethe’s pales beside Faust, although something immortal glitters in the poems too.

What one could “enjoy” of Goethe is, for me, too patriarchal, too much de l’epoque. What I value in Goethe I cannot “enjoy”; it is too big, too exciting, too profound.

Faust is the most recent pillar in that bridge of the spirit which spans the morass of world history, beginning with the Gilgamesh epic,1 the I Ching,2 the Upanishads, the Tao-te Ching, the fragments of Heraclitus, and continuing in the Gospel of St. John, the letters of St. Paul, in Meister Eckhart and in Dante.

It seems to me that one cannot meditate enough about Faust, for many of the mysteries of the second part are still unfathomed.

Faust is out of this world and therefore it transports you; it is as much the future as the past and therefore the most living present.

Hence everything that to me is essential in Goethe is contained in Faust.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 88-89.