Inter-literary Influence: Goethe in Iqbal

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Siddiqua Fatima


Ikram Chughtai in his paper called “Goethe in Urdu Literature” mentions that Iqbal was the first to introduce Goethe to writers of the subcontinent through the many notable tributes he has paid to the philosopher in his works. One of the reasons Iqbal was so impressed by Goethe could have been his impartial intellectual inclination towards Islamic cultural history, and his creative approach towards Oriental Islamic traditions. Iqbal was of the opinion that “a real insight into human nature you can get from Goethe alone”, as he wrote in his Stray Reflections(108). Iqbal’s many such elaborate and remarkable tributes to Goethe are what introduced him to the subcontinent’s Urdu writers. Goethe in spite of the range of his study had not gained much fame in the subcontinent, but it was Iqbal’s Payam-i-Mashriq, which he wrote in response to Goethe’s West-eastern Divan, that really led to Goethe being known in the region. Even in his personal diary, Iqbal refers to the philosopher Goethe more often than the other thinkers that he has mentioned.

Through this study, I want to see how Jauss’s theory of reception can describe the reception of the ideas of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German philosopher and writer, in the works of Allama Iqbal. Much work has been done on Goethe and Iqbal, for Iqbal’s adoration for Goethe is very evident in his work, not just through direct mentions of Goethe and some references of his life or place of burial, Weimar, but also through the ideas in his work which can be seen as fashioned from Goethe’s ideas. Having found this work to be similar to the analyses I had made on which to look at the effect of reception, I shall use them to provide the contexts for this exploration.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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