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The ostensibly religious and ethical significance of Faust's final ascension after his death tends to distract, if not blind, readers to other possible implications of that upwards movement and to the idea that he may continue and return "back to earth." The assumption that heavenly powers reward Faust leads to the claim that Goethe's tragedy validates the quest of "land developers" or those who would strive regardless of the consequences. I propose, in contrast, that we read Faust's "final" ascension alongside Goethe's weather essay, "Witterungslehre 1825," and thereby note that this upward motion is not necessarily "final" at all but rather part of the circulation of the elements driven by their polarities to create weather patterns flowing upwards and downwards.


North American Goethe Society

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Goethe Yearbook 2010