|An 1863 rendition of Eduard by Friedrich Pecht and Arthur von Ramberg. |
The character Eduard is Goethe himself contemplating in his mind the running of a “what could have been situation” following the 1793 passing of Baron Gottlob von Stein (1735-1793), the husband of Charlotte von Stein (1742-1827), his longtime love interest (since 1774-75 when he came to Weimar), which thus frees Charlotte von Stein, then age 51, from her 29-year arranged marriage of necessity, and thus giving opportunity for Goethe's previous decade-long quest to wed or acquire Charlotte as his own, to see the light of day. The scenario of this possibility plays out in the novel, written at a time, 1808, when Goethe was 59 and Charlotte was 66, each on friendly, albeit mending a past broken relationship terms.
1. Pecht, Friedrich, and Ramberg, Arthur. (1870). Goethe Gallery: Containing Characters from Goethe’s Works, drawn by Friederick Pecht and Arthur von Ramberg, fifty illustrations engraved on steel, with descriptive text by Frederick Pecht (The Councillor’s Lady Goethe, pgs. 24-29; Corneila Goethe, 32-35; Elective Affinities, pgs. 289-306). Appleton & Co.