|Elective Affinities (1809) [Novel]|
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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(From the publisher):
Baron Eduard and his second wife Charlotte enjoy a quiet, humdrum existence in their opulent castle, but when he invites his friend the Captain and she invites her niece Ottilie to stay with them, their lives are turned inside out as both hosts begin to feel attracted to their guests. Using one of the chemical theories of the time as a metaphor throughout the novel, Goethe juxtaposes social interactions with scientific principles and illustrates the typically Romantic concern of the individual coming to terms with society.
The novel asks whether we have free will or not; more disturbingly, it confronts its characters with the monstrous consequences of their repression of any real life in themselves. It seems they are sunk so far in convention, fear, and unnaturalness that a real life, or even the beginnings of one, must appear to them as something terrible and destructive.
Original title: Die Wahlverwandtschaften
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Literary Fiction/classics