Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded

Elective Affinities IAD (new)
The equation overlaid cover design to 2012-launched online, planned 2013-book published, Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded by American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims, based the 1885 cover illustration by Philipp Johann and translation by James Froude (1854). [1]
In Elective Affinities (translations), Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded (EA:IAD) is an online (2012-launched), possibly to be turned print book (date), annotated, illustrated, and puzzle-solving Hmolpedia-hyperlinked reconstructed and reaction-decoded reprinting of German polymath Johann Goethe’s 1809 physical chemistry based masterpiece Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandtschaften), his self-defined “best book” (and most “dangerous” book).

“In 1809, Goethe published a book which was a puzzle both to his admirers and his enemies. This was Elective Affinities.
Hjalmar Boyesen (1885), Goethean scholar

The backbone of the project is the 1854 English translation by James Froude and the 1885 illustrated edition of this translation compiled by Norwegian-born, German-educated, American languages professor Hjalmar Boyesen, done by "the best German artists", predominately German artist Philipp Johann, noted Grimm’s Fairy Tales illustrator, as a text-picture framework starting point; inter-spliced with text-section translation alternatives [in brackets] for controversial terms (e.g. see: Goethe's advertisement), using comparative translations: Herbert Waidson (1960), Reginald Hollingdale (1971), Judith Ryan (1988), and David Constantine (1994), etc.; with footnoted annotations, commentary, and modern insights into the “layered, hidden, gestalt” and “symbolic” or “moral symbol” Bergman affinity reactions, as Goethe put it, secretly buried as coded puzzles, in each chapter, by American electrochemical engineer by Libb Thims, using Jeremy Adler (1969-1990) and Karl Fink's (1999) per-chapter affinity reaction research hypotheses as reference points; thus, thematically, putting a "main" or central chemical reaction for each of the 36 chapters, which Goethe claimed or alluded to have done—and discussing, along the way, the modern human chemical thermodynamics upgrades to each scene scenario, via the 1882 Goethe-Helmholtz equation.

Project pages
The following are links to the separate project pages:

● Elective Affinities | IAD: Project background
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Goethe timeline
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Goethe's advertisement
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Table of contents
● Elective Affinities | IAD: List of characters
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Title decoding
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Reaction decipherment
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Equation decipherment (hardest part)
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Commentary decoding | Puzzles
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Love theories
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Affinity table
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Admirers | Enemies
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Translations
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Robe of Nessus; Tableau vivant
● Elective Affinities | IAD: Artists
Elective Affinities - Illustrarted, Annotated, and Decoded (back cover) 1000px s
Back cover to 2013 hard cover version of Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded. [4]

The following are historical reviews and commentary:

“In 1809, Goethe printed the most exceptionable of his novels, the Wahlverwandschaften (“Elective Affinities”), in which the charms and graces of this style are employed in the description of the impulses which spring from the collision of passion and duty in the relations of marriage. By the title of the book, and in the whole spirit of it, he would represent that sexual affinities follow the same inevitable law as chemical affinities, and that humanity struggles impotently against the dictates of nature. Like all his productions, this was suggested by circumstances in his own experience. The work shocked the moral world, in spite of the beauty with which it was written, and to this day tasks the ingenuity of those of his admirers who seek to defend it from attack.”
New American Cyclopedia (1859), edited by George Ripley and Charles Dana [2]

“A great revolutionary doctrine pervades the whole.”
____________Victoria Woodhull (1871), first female US presidential candidate

“A novel remarkable for depth of feeling, wealth of penetrative knowledge of the world and of man, and artistic perfection; a masterpiece of its kind, though it has not escaped manifold misinterpretation.”
— Heinrich Duntzer, Life of Goethe (1880) [6]

Betty Dobbs [1975] also examined the role of the ‘mediator’ by which two substances are made ‘sociable’. We may recall here the importance of the mediator [Mittler] in Goethe’s Elective Affinities. For what concerns chemistry, Goethe was not far from Newton.”
Ilya Prigogine (1984), Order Out of Chaos, footnote 2.5

Elective Affinities—the famous novel by Goethe—is often considered, along with War and Peace [Tolstoy], the best novel of the nineteenth century.”
— Francesca Santucci (2002) (Ѻ)

“The chemical theory is the structural backbone of Goethe.”
Carl Krockel, “D.H. Lawrence and Germany” (2007)

Wahlverwandtschaft – the natural affinity with which different elements adhere to but also repel one another, as if each were choosing its own particular arrangement. Eduard speaks of chemistry and physics; the Captain, too, of how cohesiveness can be seen in liquids with their tendency to form into round shapesfalling drops of water or little balls of quicksilver or molten lead. At the same time, they all hear descriptions of human relations. Elements and persons: each compelled to spring into activity to form novel and unexpected constellations, a lively movement that disturbs each along the way and of which the ending can’t be predicted in advance.”
Lydia Goehr, Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (2008) [3]

Project | overview
A current main project of Hmolpedia is the undertaking of the 2012-launched online, slated 2013-book publication, Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded, shown adjacent, the first full book (Elective Affinities, 1809) to be embedded and hyperlinked into the body and structure of Hmolpedia, consisting in structure of about 40+ individual wiki pages, listed above. The main objective of the newly-launched project is to: (a) collect all known nineteenth-century illustrations of German polymath Johann Goethe’s self-defined “best book” , albeit critically-defined most “dangerous” book, yet thinker-defined revolution-containing (see: Goethean revolution) book; to (b) annotate the two-centuries of critical review and commentary on the content of the monumental novella, and to (c) decode the “hidden secrets” Goethe claimed to have embedded in the book in multiple layers of gestalt, most importantly to extract the three-dozen plus Bergman reactions Goethe is said to have used to construct the various chapters of the novella, and lastly to give a modern human chemical thermodynamics upgrade to the entire affinity chemistry (1718-1881) theoretical backbone of the novel, a "principle" (e.g. moral symbols) that Goethe famously said was “true”, using the various versions of Goethe-Helmholtz equation (1882) as a starting point. Those new to hmolscience are encouraged to read the newly deciphered, decoded, and human chemical reaction explicated online version of Goethe’s greatest publication, chapter-by-chapter, a work that Goethe famous said must be read “three times” for proper understanding. New project contributors are welcome to join—especially Goethean scholars, chemical thermodynamicists and or physical chemists, and those proficient in the subtleties of German-to-English translation (e.g. see Goethe's “advertisement”); see also: Goethe timeline, Goethe's affinity table, and Goethean human chemistry. Special thanks to those who have contributed, in various ways, to the project thus far, including: Takaoki Matsui, Stanley Corngold, and Jeff Tuhtan.

Notes | Annotations
In the online chapter pages, the shorthand "HB:##", as in “a circa 1863 rendition of Eduard (HB:230) by Friederick Pecht and Arthur von Ramberg” (Part One: Chapter One), means that the reference or illustration is found in the Hjalmar Boyesen (HB) 1885 translation (volume five), on the page number indicated.

Cover depictions
The following explains the various portions of the cover design, as well-representative of the main thematic contents of the novella:



Cover (Cupid)Cupid, in the form of a putto, and his bow and arrow of love, with which a shot from, via the actions of its chemically-dipped arrow head, causes a person to fall in love; the nature of love, passion, and the rules and repercussions of desire is the central motif of the novella.Cover (Prometheus)Prometheus, in the form of a putto, and his fire of life, that he stole of the heavens to give humans life; Shakespeare, whom Goethe started reading at age 17 (see: timeline), famous commented, in his 1603 Othello, the Moor of Venice, in riddled form: “I know not where is that Promethean heat, that can thy life relum”; the term here is extrapolated to the nature of the heats of passion, and the life and death of relationships.Cover (Doves)Doves, the symbol of life and death; the etymology of which traces to the the three doves that Noah released from ark, the non-return of the third of which, after 120-days of flood, meant that land had arose, after which the sun began to shine; which, in turn, is a retelling of the myth of Ra the sun-god being "born" out of the Nun (land mound) following the 120-day annual Nile flood.
Cover (reaction)William Cullen (1757): “the dart → between them expresses the elective attraction; when I put a dart with the tail to one substance and the point to another, I mean that the substance to which the tail is directed unites with the one to which the point is directed more strongly than it does with the one united to it in the crotchet {.”Cover (Equation)After 1885, following Hermann Helmholtz's "On the Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes", affinities, symbol A, of reactions were found to be measured by the negative of the change in the Gibbs free energy, symbol dG, of the boundaried system; which in the novella translates as the boundary of the estate—whereby the “free energy” or available energy, is that created or absorbed or put to work during the interactions and collisions of the characters (reactants), per each chapter (reaction) of the story.

The gist of the “annotation” portion will be to footnote in after-publication historical commentary, critique, discussion, debate and or commentary reaction to Goethe's "most dangerous" publication, as there is a lengthy two-centuries long ongoing debate on the content and meaning of this great novella.

There is some commentary that not only are the tombs of Goethe and Schiller, as well as their archives, located in Weimar, Germany, but also that Elective Affinities is set around the city of Weimar (check). [5]

1. (a) Goethe, Johann. (1885). Goethe’s Works, Illustrated by the Best German Artists, 5 volumes (translator: Hjalmar Boyesen) (Volume 5: W. Meister’s Travels; Elective Affinities (Part I, pgs. 231-297; Part II, pgs. 298-369; Index, pg. 371; Index of engravings, pgs. 370-76)). Philadelphia: George Barrie.
(b) Goethe, Johann. (2012). Elective Affinities (translator: Hjalmar Boyesen). Online Library of Liberty.
2. Ripley, George and Dana, Charles D. (1859). The New American Cyclopedia: a Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Volume 8 (pg. 337). D. Appleton and Co.
3. Goehr, Lydia. (2008). Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (Wahlverwandtschaft, pgs. 1-2). Columbia University Press.
4. Goethe, Johann and Thims, Libb. (2013). Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded (back cover). Publisher.
5. Weimar (18th and 19th centuries) – Wikipedia.
6. Duntzer, Heinrich. (1880). Life of Goethe (translator: Thomas W. Lyster) (pgs. 574; 590, 597-98). T.F. Unwin. 1908.

Further reading
● Bielschowsky, Albert. (1895). The Life of Goethe: Volume II, 1788-1815 (translator: William A. Cooper) (§XII: Die Wahlverwandtschaften, pgs. 347-87). G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911.
● Muir, Matthew M.P. (1907). A History of Chemical Theories and Laws (ch. XIV: Chemical Affinity, pgs. 379-430, esp. keyword: “Bergmann”, pgs. 384-94). Wiley.
● Maurer, K.W. (1947). “Goethe’s Elective Affinities” (abs), the Modern Language Review, 42(3): 342-52.
● Gray, Ronald D. (date). “Goethe the Alchemist: A Treatise on the Concept of Alchemy and its Principles in His Time” (Ѻ), Publisher.
● Gray, Ronald. (1967). Goethe: a Critical Introduction (§11: Die Wahlverwandtschaften, pgs. 216-25). Cambridge University Press.
● Murray, E.B. (1968). “‘Elective Affinity’ in The Revolt of Islam” (abs), Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 67:570-85.
● Synder, Caroline. (1971). “The Helmsman-Rescue Motif in Goethe’s ‘Die Wahlverwandtschaften’” (abs), Monatshefte, 63(1): 41-47.
● Peacock, R. (1976). “The Ethics of Goethe’s ‘Die Wahlverwandtschaften’” (abs), The Modern Language Review, 71(2): 330-43.
● Goethe, Johann. (1976). Wahlverwandtschaften (with Essay by Walter Benjamin and notes Hand J. Weitz). Frankfurt AM Main: Insel Verlag.
● Atkins, Stuart. (1980). “Die Wahlverwandtschaften: Novel of German Classicism” (abs), The German Quarterly, 53(1): 1-45.
● Fried, Michael. (1980). Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Goethe, 10+ pgs; Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften, pg. 171-). University of California Press.
● Ryan, Judith. (1982). “Elective Affinities: Goethe and Henry James” (abs), Goethe Yearbook, 1:153-71.
● Dye, Ellis. (1996). “Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften: Romantic Metafiction”, Goethe Yearbook 8 (editors: Thomas Saine, Ellis Dye) (pgs. 66-92). Camden House.
● Reilly, Terry. (1997). “Alchemy, Chemistry, and Literary Form in Goethe’s Elective Affinities”, Cauda pavonis: the Hermetic Text Society newsletter, Volumes 9-16.
● Schwedt, Georg. (1998). Goethe as Chemist (Goethe Als Chemiker) (§:Die Wahlverwandtschaften und Die Chemische Affinitatslehre, pgs. 319-29). Springer.
● Bonca, Teddi C. (1999). Shelley’s Mirrors of Love: Narcissism, Sacrifice, and Sorority (elective affinities, 4+ pgs; elective affinities + physical chemistry, 2+ pgs). SUNY Press.
● Schlick, Werner. (2000). Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften: a Middle-Class Critique of Aesthetic Aristocratism (chemistry, 5+ pgs). C. Winter.
● Morgan, Diane. (2000). Kant Trouble: Obscurities of the Enlightened (Goethe, 40+ pgs; Elective Affinities, 14+ pgs). Taylor & Francis.
● Ihle, Holger. (2003). Goethe’s Elective Affinities: the Chemical Parable: Content and Function (Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften: Die chemische Gleichnisrede - Inhalt und Funktion). GRIN.
● Dahlweid, Janine. (2008). Ratio Versus Icon in Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Elective Affinities”: Analysis of Perception Concepts (abs). Lightning Source UK Ltd.
● Bohme, Hartmut. (2012). “No True Prophet: the Characters and the Non-human in Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities” (“Kein wahrer Prophet: Die Zeichen und das Nicht-Menschliche in Goethes Roman Die Wahlverwandtschaften”), in: Greve, Gisela (Hg.): Goethe. Die Wahlverwandtschaften; Tübingen 1999, S. 97-125.


Paternal Admonition (1655) – WGA.hu.

External links
Elective Affinities (German Literature) – Google Sites.
Project Muse (free pdfs of past Goethe Yearbook editions)
● Dual pair of Goethe (GermanEnglish) – Typen-und-mehr.com.

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