Elective Affinities

Elective Affinities (two covers)
Goethe's 1809 novella Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandtschaften), original German cover, adjacent to an updated reprint of the H.M. Waidson translation (1960, Kindred by Choice), One World Classics edition.
In famous publications, Elective Affinities, or Die Wahlverwandtschaften (The Elective Affinities) in German (audio pronunciation), is an 1809 scientific novella, published in October, by German polymath Johann von Goethe, in which the characters, considered as chemical species, interact, or rather chemically react, through passions governed by the reaction laws of 'elective' or chemical affinity. [1]

Influence
Goethe's Elective Affinities was read by Arthur Schopenhauer, who based his The World as Will and Representation on it (1818; 1844), Friedrich Nietzsche, who based his aphorism #1 of his Human, All Too Human (1878) on it, Sigmund Freud (Ѻ), who based his A Project for Scientific Psychology on it, and Thomas Mann, which influenced his Death in Venice (1912), to name a few.

American | Unawaredness
In American, the two cultures are largely unaware of "Goethe" and his physicochemical model of human existence, says as compared to Europe; the following are testament to this:

“Romantic love, we still read in cosmopolitan, is a ‘matter of chemistry’, an image that has its support in the writings of the greatest poets, in Shakespeare, for instance, and in Goethe, whose novel Elective Affinities has been prime reading in Europe for almost two centuries.”
Robert Solomon (1981), Love: Emotion, Myth, Metaphor (pg. 38)

“Words like 'great' and 'genius' could aptly be used for but a select number of artists—for Michelangelo or say Shakespeare. In the United States, the works of these great artists have been incorporated into popular culture as the epitome of visual and linguistic beauty. By contrast, on these shores, Goethe's works remain largely unread and rarely discussed except among college students, most of whom develop a healthy dose of amnesia shortly after graduation.”
— Daniel Spiro (2005), “Remember to Live! The Philosophy of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe”

(add discussion)

Overview
In response to critics, Goethe commented, on 31 December 1809, to Karl Reinhard, to the effect that Elective Affinities would be a book for future generations to enjoy and in particular to understand:

“How I look forward to the effect that this novel will have in a few years on many people upon rereading it.”

One of these "effects", although it actually took a few centuries, rather than a few years, was the 2006 discovery of Goethe's Elective Affinities, by American chemical engineer Libb Thims, resulted in the writing of the world's first textbook on human chemistry.

Elective Affinities
is the greatest publication in this field since the time of Greek philosopher Empedocles' famous 450BC chemistry aphorisms, about friends mixing like wine and water and enemies separating like oil and water; a view to which Goethe pays tribute to in his novella.

Magnetism
See also: Animal magnetism; Mesmerism
At some point in the novella, Goethe, supposedly, explains human passion in the language of both magnetism and chemical attraction. [31]
Elective Affinities (book and estate)
Left: a 2011 Albatros reprint cover of Die Wahlverwandtschaften. Right: a 2001 watercolor rendition of the estate (retort, reaction vessel, closed reaction system), by Colombian artist Nohra Barros, in which the the story or rather reactions (human chemical reactions) of Elective Affinities take place, chapter-by-chapter. [21]

This would seem to have likely been in the second part.


Reviews
The 1859 New American Cyclopedia, edited by George Ripley and Charles Dana, describe Goethe's novella as follows: [27]

“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.”

Interestingly, the attack still continues to this very day (e.g. Libb Thims (attack)) some two-hundred years later.

Spinoza
The exact date in which Goethe conceived the theory behind Elective Affinities is difficult to pin down. We do know, however, that by 1768, at age nineteen, he had already openly called chemistry is “secret love” and was conducting chemical experiments, scouring the chemistry literature, and studying the works of the great chemists looking for a unifying principle that permeates the entire universe.

German philosopher Herman Grimm, in his 1875 University of Berlin lectures on Goethe, argues that Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), in his manner of treating human relations, supposedly, had opened the way to the latter views of Goethe (and Schiller) who compared humans to elements that attract or repel one another without any exercise of “will” in the matter.

There may be some truth to this, possibly not in regards to treating humans as attracting and repelling chemical elements, but at least in regards to Spinoza’s view of morality as explained in his 1677 post humorously book Ethics. [25] Of Spinoza, Goethe writes in his autobiography Dichtung und Wahrheit: [26]

“After seeking through the world in vain, to find a means of cultivation for my unusual nature, I at last fell upon the Ethics of this philosopher. If would be impossible for me to render an account of how much I drew form my perusal of the work itself and how much I myself read into it. Enough that I found in it a sedative for my passions, and that it seemed to open out for me a free and boundless view of both the sensible and the moral world. But what especially riveted me to him, was the utter disinterestedness, which glowed in his every sentence.”

In other words, Goethe, in Spinoza, may have intuited the some of the preliminaries of the physical chemistry morality system that he eventually comes to present in Elective Affinities.

Lectures on Anatomy
Goethe’s first detailed presentation of affinity occurs in his third Lecture on Anatomy of 1796. [28] Specifically, in his lectures on comparative anatomy and zoology, under the heading ‘On the Laws of Organization as Such, to the Extent That We Can Observe Them in the Structure of Types’, Goethe stated the following view: [29]

“To facilitate our comprehension of the concept of organic existence, let us first take a look at mineral structures. Minerals, whose varied components are so solid and unchanging, do not seem to hold to any limits or order when then combine, although laws do determine these conditions. Different components can be easily separated and recombined into new combinations. These combinations can again be taken apart, and the mineral we thought destroyed can soon be restored to its original perfection.

The main characteristic of minerals that concerns us here is the indifference their components show toward the form of their combination, that is, their coordination or subordination. There are, by nature, stronger or weaker bonds between these components, and when they evidence themselves, they resemble attractions between human beings. This is why chemists speak of elective affinities [see: human elective affinity; human chemical affinity], even though the forces that move mineral components one way or another and create mineral structures are often purely external in origin, which by no means implies that we deny them the delicate portion of nature’s vital inspiration that is their due.”

Here we see, in excellent form, in 1796, Goethe discussing "human chemical bonding" in the context of the affinity forces, which he correctly says are "external in origin", that create or dissolve such combinations.

Schiller-Crebillon
The first definitive mention of Goethe's human elective affinities theory seems to have been made in an October 23, 1799 letter to his associate German author Friedrich Schiller, wherein Goethe criticizes the work of French author Prosper Crebillon (1674-1762) to the effect that Crebillion's writing is not realistic in the sense that it is not based on the reality that people react according to the principles and outcomes of chemistry. The specific comment by Goethe, in this letter, in which he first mentions the outlines of his soon-to-be theory-infused novella, is as follows: [13]

“There is no trace of the delicate verwandtschaft (affinity) through which they (his characters) attract and repel, neutralize each other, separate again and re-establish themselves.”

In other words, in 1799, Goethe viewed the forces of personal relationships to be chemical forces, just as is chemical affinity understood, in modern terms, to be the force or reaction. [13]
LTE
One of the stepping stones to the writing of the Elective Affinities was Goethe's 1808 unfinished draft The Renouncers, in which the hero is simultaneously in love with four women, and the "moral" implications and repercussions of this situation. [17]

Grimm argues that Schiller's last unfinished drama "Demetrius", which was left lying on his table unfinished at the time of this reaction end (1805), was in some way a vicarious impetus or collisional momentum to the start of Elective Affinities, in some way or another, so to speak.

In love with four women?
Initially, according to Goethean scholar John Armstrong, in mid 1808, a few months before Goethe met Napoleon, he had started writing a story called "The Renouncers", and took it up again early the next year, after which the tale ballooned into a novel. Uncharacteristically, the work progressed quickly and before the end of the year it was in print under the enigmatic title Elective Affinities. During this period, according to one of Goethe's assistants, it is said that Goethe was contemplating a novel in which the hero is simultaneously in love with four women: [17]

“Each in her own way is lovable; whichever one he is drawn to in the mood of the moment, she alone is lovable.”

Of considerable coincidence, this love thought experiment performed by Goethe in draft, is nearly verbatim to that in which American electrical chemical engineer Libb Thims was drawn into the formulation of the subjects of human chemistry and human thermodynamics, or in combined form human chemical thermodynamics. Specifically, in circa 1992-1993, in an attempt to figure out how to go about choosing who to marry, as a freshman pre-engineering student, Thims made an excel-style spread sheet table of the top nineteen girlfriends, whom he could potentially marry, listing each person on the horizontal and listing a range of point ranked attributes, qualities, or factors on the vertical, in an attempt to get a numerical "marriage quality value" for each girlfriend. The resulting solutions, however, did not seem to intuitively make any sense. In 1995, in he began to muse about how this would be done chemical thermodynamically; even nearing the point of asking the question in his chemical engineering thermodynamics class. It would be a full seven years (2001) before he could figure out the nuts and bolts of how this could be quantified via enthalpy and entropy determinants (see: Libb Thims (history)).

In sum, it is only through looking through the lens of the theoretical model of how, that one begins to see the chemical thermodynamic viewpoint, namely that there are real rules that determine how these bonding choices actuate.

Publication
A few have mentioned that Elective Affinities was first intended for insertion among the numerous short stories in the second part of ‘Wilhelm Meister’, but soon grew beyond the limits of availability for such use. [20]

Goethean biographer Havelock Ellis notes that the first mention of Elective Affinities by Goethe occurred on 11 April 1808 in a diary entry. The end of July of that year he had completed a version with 18 chapters. This, however, remained untouched until April of next year. [14]

On October 1809, he finally the whole novel, in two parts with 18 chapters, shortly before printing. Goethe, in retrospect, commented on this completion: [14]

“No one can fail to recognize in it a deep passionate would which shrinks from being closed by healing, a heart which dreads to be cured … In it, as in a burial urn, I have deposited with deep emotion many a sad experience. The 3rd of October 1809 (when the publication was completed) set me free from the work: but the feelings it embodies can never quite depart from me.”
Famous "chapter four" discussion of the affinity reactions occurring between the characters, from the 1996 French-Italian film adaptation.

In other words, the novella was finished on October 3rd, 1809.

Overview
See main: Goethe’s human chemistry; Goethe's human affinity table; Human chemical reaction (history)
The central plot of the book is centered on a double elective affinity, through which the four main characters Eduard, Charlotte, Captain, and Ottilie go through as the novella proceeds:

AB + CD → AC + BD

Charlotte-Eduard + Captain-Ottilie → Charlotte-Captain + Eduard-Ottilie

With the following Bergman-style letter symbols assigned to each human reactant, by Goethe, in the famous chapter four:

A = Charlotte
B = Eduard
C = Captain
D = Ottilie

Goethe's Elective Affinities is considered the founding book of human chemistry. [2] Goethe's theory of human elective affinities, stimulated may writers in the years to follow. One such person was German sociologist Max Weber, who had begun reading Goethe at the age of 14, later constructing a theory of social human elective affinities. [3] English science historian Jeremy Adler did his 1969 PhD dissertation on the theoretical basis of Goethe's novella, in terms of what chemists and affinity reaction each chapter was based on. [4]

Elective Affinities (Penguin Classics)Elective Affinities (Penguin Classics) 2005
R.J. Hollingdale translation, Penguin Classics editions, 1971 (left) and 2005 (right); the latter with chronology and further reading by David Deissner, with the cover detail from Family Portrait (1813) by Merry Josph Blondell, in the Kunsthalle, Bremen, Germany (photo AKG Images).

Advertisement
On March 23, 1810 Goethe put an advertisement for his novella in the Morning Paper for the Educated Professional stating the following: [6]

“It seems as if the author’s continued natural studies have caused him to use this unusual title. He may have noticed that in the natural sciences one often uses ethical parables in order to bring closer what is quite distant from the circle of human knowledge; and so he also probably wanted, in a moral case, to bring a chemical figure of speech back to its spiritual origins, especially since there is only one nature overall, and also since throughout the realm of cheerful freedom of reason the traces of sad, passionate necessity irresistibly pull themselves and may only be erased by a higher hand, and perhaps even then not in this life.”

Another shorter translation of this advertisement reads: [7]

“It seems that his continued work in physics made the author choose this strange title. He may have noticed that often in natural science ethical similes are used to bring something nearer that is remote from the region of human knowledge, and so, presumably, he may have wanted to trace the parlance of a chemical simile back to its spiritual origin, all the more so since there is after all just one nature.”

In other words, Goethe is attempting to smooth-over the grand implications of what he has done by saying to the undiscerning reader that the teachings of his novella may simply be thought of, if so be it, as ethical "similes" or parables, but not actual truth, if such a debate should erupt. Goethe, as we see, was well wise to the immensity of the underlying controversy to the science he had outlined, multiple times more controversial than is evolution. And yet another, 2005, translation reads this advertisement as: [12]

“This strange title was one suggested to him by his continued work in the field of physics, that it was a metaphor in chemistry whose spiritual origins is demonstrated in the novella.”

This may have been the September 4th, 1809 advert in Morgenblatt, stating that "elective affinities" is a metaphor in chemistry with a "spiritual origin". Goethean philosopher John Armstrong, argues that approach was used being that his publisher Johann Cotta feared or anticipated attack, and was thus introducing a neutralizing deflection. The adverts allude to the premise that Goethe viewed his theory is pure metaphor, which is far from the truth.
Elective Affinities (Heinrich Dahling)Elective Affinities (1996) (s)
Left: The principle characters in Goethe’s Elective Affinities (Eduard, Charlotte, Captain, and Ottilie) original drawing by Heinrich Dahling, engraved by Heinrich Schmidt for the 1811 German edition. [8] Right: 1996 French film adaptation of Elective Affinities.

Title etymology
The name of the book is derived from the the Latin translation of Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman's 1775 textbook A Dissertation on Elective Attractions, where the German Die Wahlverwandtschaften literally means "The Elective Affinities". [5] Goethe specifically stated that the theme of his book comes from Bergman’s textbook on elective affinities, which was originally published in Latin as De Attractionibus Electives (The Elective Attractions). This was translated into German, in 1782 by Hein Tabor, under the title Die Wahlverwnadtschafte (The Elective Affinities)

German historian Jeremy Adler notes that Goethe mentions both Bergman and French chemist Claude Berthollet in connection with his studies on affinity. Specifically, in a conversation with his friend Riemer on 24 July 1809, Goethe specifically names Bergman as a source for his for the idea of “elective affinity”, using the early German translation of that term, namely “Wahlverwandtschaft”, which became an inspiration for his novel. [4]

Complexity | hidden secrets
A unifying theme in Goethe’s statements surrounding his Elective Affinities is the novel’s complexity.

From his earliest remarks to friends and later conversations with those, such as Johann Eckermann, Goethe stressed over and again the novel’s intricate structure and veiled meaning. He told composer Karl Zelter that he had placed numerous different elements within the text, but that many of these were hidden; also that past the veiled quality of the work lays the “truly intended Gestalt.”

Rosetta StonePandora's box (Dante)
Goethe's Elective Affinities can best be described as a mixture of (a) the Rosetta stone, in the sense that it is one of the most cryptic publications ever, as evidenced by Goethe’s open comment that hidden in it are layers upon layers of gestalt; two of the keys to its translation being Clausius' Mechanical Theory of Heat and Gibbs' On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances; and (b) Pandora’s box, being that Elective Affinities has been described, as summarized by Herman Grimm, as “Goethe’s most dangerous work”, and example of this “danger” as can be glimpsed in the recent post 9/11 heated Rossini debate.

To his neighbor and author Christoph Wieland Goethe stated that the novel had to be read at least three times before it could be understood. To his publisher Johann Cotta, he wrote that there is much hidden within the novel.

To French diplomat Karl Reinhard, Goethe predicted that the novel’s meaning might remain incomprehensible for a time, only to be rediscovered through multiple rereadings at a later date. [5]

Goethe commented that in his Elective Affinities, he had hidden numerous correlations and "offenbares Geheimnis," patent secrets or open secrets, like a work of nature herself. [16] Beyond this, Goethe has frequently stated that withing the novella are hidden multiple layers of Gestalt and that the work must be read multiple times for proper understanding.

OTTO
See main: Otto (cryptography); See also: Anagram
It has frequently been pointed out that the four main characters as well as the child that is born share the same root name "Otto". [5] Both Eduard and the Captain were called OTTO in youth; the two women CharlOTTE and OTTilie, have related names; and the misfortune child born out of the "mental" double adultery (or double elective affinity) of the four main characters (reactants) is called Otto. [4] Opinions differ as to why Goethe used this naming riddle, but the modern chemical view would argue that Goethe intended the reader to grasp the logic that each person is a different type of "human chemical" in essence.

Scottish biographer and German literature lecturer John Williams gives one of the best summarizes of Goethe's intricate use of this anagram. [23]

Mittler
See main: Mittler
American chemist Roald Hoffmann argues that the character Mittler, “the mediator”, whose central point was to never enter any house where there was not a dispute to settle or difficulties to put right, was the role model for a catalyst or human catalyst. [8] In Goethe’s mind, however, Mittler more likely was modeled on the theory of “mediating affinity”, a species or substance the brings about an action in or between two other chemical species. [2]

Wet Way and Dry Way
It has frequently been argued that Goethe intended the estate to be his retort, beaker, reaction vessel, or selectively closed reaction container. In this sense, it might be the case that Goethe intended the "land" of the estate to be representative of Bergman's listing or grouping of reactions, in his affinity table, in the "dry way" (without water) and the lake of the estate to be representative of Bergman's listing of reactions in the "wet way" (aqueous) or in the presence of water. In this sense, if this supposition is correct, the drowning of the child (Oto) would have been Goethe's secret method of describing a human chemical reaction in the "wet way" or in the presence of water.

Choice
Australian religious studies scholar Andrew Kania summarizes Goethe’s Elective Affinities, in regards to choice and how changes in external circumstance affect choice, as such: [22]

“The German poet, Goethe, in his novel "Elective Affinities", describes a situation by which those who were once attracted toward one another, ("an affinity"), are torn apart by a change in circumstance; hence they "elect to be together" and "then elect to be apart". For Goethe, the theory is that we bind ourselves according to that which we are most passionate about, the more we yearn or love something or someone, the tighter we bind. To bind ourselves requires a degree of maturity and commitment. When faced with a decision to make, we choose on the basis of what would do our conscience best. Rather than vacillate in a grey world, we have the courage to elect an affinity; and each of us is required to elect an affinity of varying degrees of gravity throughout our lives. As mature adults we are required to commit.”

Overall, this seems to be a fairly cogent description.

PhD dissertations
At least two PhD dissertations have been done in attempt to decipher the scientific framework to Goethe Elective Affinities. The first is American Robert David Gould’s 1970 PhD thesis “Elective Affinities: an Investigation of the Influence of Goethe’s Scientific Thinking on Die Wahlverwandtschaften”. [18] Gould's take on Goethe's Elective Affinities, however, seems to have been a stab in the wrong direction. Gould, for instance, compares Eduard and Charlotte’s development to plants. [19]

The second dissertation on Goethe's Elective Affinities, in what has turned out to be one of the most-valuable dissertations of the 20th century, is German science historian Jeremy Adler’s 1977 PhD done on the chemistry theory used in Goethe’s novella, which amounts to a historical mastery of 18th century chemistry, particularly affinity chemistry, and his followup chapters and articles in the decade to follow. [4]

Reception
In an 1827 conversation with Johann Eckermann, Goethe discusses a letter from Solger to Tieck in which kind words about the Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Affinities) were spoken on the fine nature of the Architect’s character. Goethe comments on this letter that:

“These remarks were written as early as 1809. I should then have been much cheered to hear so kind a word about the Wahlverwandtschaften; for at that time, and afterwards, not many pleasant remarks were vouchsafed be about that novel.”

We may conclude from these remarks that Goethe’s novella / chemical theory presentation found a cold reception and likely rejection for many people, which of course was due to the fact that the logic of the book was many centuries ahead of its time.

Compensation
Goethe was paid 2,000 taler for his Elective Affinities by his publisher Johann Cotta (1761-1837). [30]

Elective Affinities (cage and cover)
Left: René Magritte's 1993 Elective Affinities (top); 1999 model re-construction (bottom). Right: 1996 French-Italian film adaptation
Reproductions, remakes, and renditions
Since its publication, Goethe's 1809 novella has been the stimulus for several reproductions:

● The 1933 oil-on-canvas painting (Elective Affinities) by Belgian surrealist artist by René Magritte's themed on Goethe's Elective Affinities.
The 1950s novel Pornographia (and 2003 film adaptation) by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz is said to be an attempted modern-day remake of Elective Affinities, utilizing chemical combination models as well as newer ideas such as Michael Faraday's 1830s lines of force models to explain lines of desire or passion.
● The 1962 film Jules et Jim by director Francois Truffaut was filmed while reading Elective Affinities.
Die Wahlverwandtschaften , 1974, DDR , Regie Siegfried Kühn , ua mit Hilmar Thate als Eduard, Beata Tyszkiewicz als Charlotte, Magda Vasary als Ottilie, Gerry Wolff als Hauptmann.
Die Wahlverwandtschaften. Frankreich, BR Deutschland 1981/1982, TV-Spielfilm, 118 Min., Regie: Claude Chabrol , Erstsendung: ARD , 4. April 1982, ua mit Helmut Griem als Eduard Otto, Stéphane Audran als Charlotte, Michael Degen als Hauptmann Otto, Pascale Reynaud als Ottilie.
John Banville’s 1982 novel The Newton Letter, adopts aspects of Goethe’s novella; the inhabitants of ‘Fern House’, of Banville’s book, e.g., are Edward, the often drunk master of the house; Charlotte, his wife, a tall, middle-aged woman with an abstracted air and a penchant for gardening; Ottilie, the big, blonde, twenty-four year old niece of Charlotte; and Michael, the adopted son of Edward and Charlotte.
● The 1993 play Arcadia by British playwright Tom Stoppard is a modern re-write of Elective Affinities, juxtaposed between the years 1809 and 1989.
● The 1996 film Le affinità elettive by Paolo Taviani is the French-Italian version of the book (with English subtitles).

Thermodynamics
In 1882, German physicist Hermann Helmholtz proved, through derivation and based partially on the earlier work of Willard Gibbs (1876), in his On the Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes, that the measure of affinity A is free energy, Gibbs free energy G or Helmholtz free energy F, depending on the type of process; which for typical reactions occurring on the surface of the earth, is Gibbs free energy, whereby affinity is defined as a function of entropy S, temperature T, and enthalpy H:

 A = T \Delta S - \Delta H \,

Modern writers, are thus forced into the puzzling picture of how entropy, the most elusive quantity in science, is to be understood in the context of human interactions. This is seen in the works of American writer Thomas Pynchon as well as playwright Tom Stoppard. The following quote, for instance, gives an incontext comparison of Elective Affinities to Pynchon's 1966 The Crying of Lot 49, in which entropy theory in employed: [10]

“Pynchon’s novel points outside itself: the act of reading, to use thermodynamic terminology, can either be adiabatic or irreversible, either locking in the unchanging garden of fiction, or open to the shifting and uncertain world of choice, emotion, and community. The achievement of The Crying of Lot 49 is its ability to speak unwanted words without a hint of preaching or propaganda. The book’s transformation of the impersonal language of science into a language of great emotional power is a breathtaking accomplishment, whose nearest rival is perhaps Goethe’s Elective Affinities.”

To clarify, although this quote makes a good comparison, as Goethe used the affinity (A = TΔS – ΔH) as the theoretical construct of his story, whereas Pynchon used entropy change (ΔS) in his, we must point out that Goethe's presentation was many levels above that of Pynchon. Likewise, Stoppard's 1993 play Arcadia, a remake of Goethe's Elective Affinities, delves into open discussions on entropy and heat of sex occurring between different characters, but similar to Pynchon, or anyone else for that matter, fails to discuss enthalpy change.

The discussion of enthalpy change ΔH of human chemical reactions requires a minimum of a degree in either physical chemistry or chemical engineering, plus a basic reading of nearly every article in this encyclopedia, plus a basic desire to re-master and re-work the entire field of chemical thermodynamics, to even begin to be able to write cogent sentences about enthalpy of human reactions.

English translations | with introductions

See main: Elective Affinities (translations)
The 1872 D.W. Niles English translation (translator anonymous) has an introduction by American woman's rights activist Victoria Woodhull.

Praise
The modern view of Goethe's novella is summarized well by the 2009 view of American Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda: “The greatest German novel before the 20th century is probably Goethe’s Elective Affinities.” [11]

Videos
The following are various related videos and images:

200th Anniversary Elective Affinities T-Shirt
Left: Commemorative video on the 200th anniversary (October 2009) of the publication of Goethe's Elective Affinities. Right: 200th Elective Affinities Anniversary T-shirt, designed by Libb Thims, displaying the modern formulaic understanding of affinity A, as a function of entropy S, temperature T, and enthalpy H. [15]

References
1. (a) Goethe, Johann. (1809). Elective Affinities. Penguin Classics.
(b) Smith, P.D. (2000). “Elective Affinity: a Tale of Two Cultures”, Prometheus, 46-65.
2. (a) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One), (preview). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two), (preview), (ch. 10: "Goethe's Affinities", pgs. 371-422). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
3. Herbert, Richard, H. (1978). 'Max Weber's Elective Affinities: Sociology within the Bounds of Pure Reason', American Journal of Sociology, 84, 366-85.
4. Adler, Jeremy. (1990). "Goethe's use of chemical theory in his Elective Affinities" (ch. 18, pgs. 263-79; OTTO, pg. 270) in Romanticism and the Sciences - edited by Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine, New York: Cambridge University Press.
5. Tantillo, Astrida, O. (2001). Goethe’s Elective Affinities and the Critics ("OTTO", pg. xv; etymology, pg. xvii; novel’s complexity, xx). New York: Camden House.
6. (a) Anonymous. (1810). “Franzosisches Urtheil uver Goethes Wahlverwandtshaften” (Morgenblatt fur gebildete Stande). No. 71. Tubingen. Mar 23.
(b) Hartl, Heinz. (1983). Die Wahlverwandtschaften: Eine Dokumentation der Wirkung von Goethes Roman 1808-1832 (pgs. 146-50). Weinheim: Acta humaniora.
7. Kompridis, Nokolas. (2006). Philosophical Romanticism (pg. 246). Routledge.
8. Hoffmann, Roald. (1995). The Same and Not the Same (Goethe, pgs. 58, 88-89, 179-80, 256). Cambridge University Press.
9. Goethe, Johann, Eckermann, Johann P, Moorhead, J.K. (1998). Conversations of Goethe with Johann Peter Eckermann (Elective Affinities, pgs. 12, 44, 158-59, 217, 435). Da Capo Press.
10. Baldwin, Kenneth H. and Kirby, David. (1975). Individual and Community: Variations on a Theme in American Fiction (pg. 218). Duke University Press.
11. Dirda, Michael. (2009). “Essay: Elective Affinities”, Library Without Walls, BN.com, Mar. 30.
12. Lynch, Sandra. (2005). Philosophy and Friendship (section: Elective Affinity, pg. 36-44). Edinburgh University Press.
13. (a) Lynch, Sandra. (2005). Philosophy and Friendship (Crebillon, pg. 37). Edinburgh University Press.
(b) Steer, Alfred G. (1990). Goethe’s Elective Affinities: the Robe of Nessus (Crebillon, pg. 37). Winter.
(c) Prosper Jolyot de Crebillon – Wikipedia.
14. Ellis, Havelock. (1908). “Introduction”, in: The Life and Work of Goethe (editor: George Lewes) (ch. IV: Elective Affinities, pgs. 520-). Read Books, 2007.
15. 200th Anniversary Elective Affinities T-Shirt – Zazzle.com.
16. (a) Gaier, Ulrich. (2010). “Helena, Ten Hell”, Goethe Yearbook, Volume 17.
(b) 49. HABr 3:104f.
17. Armstrong, John. (2006). Love, Life, Goethe: How to Be Happy in an Imperfect World (Ch. 6: Elective Affinities, pgs. 357-; chemistry, pgs. 362, 368). Allen Lane.
18. Gould, Robert D. (1970). “Elective Affinities: an Investigation of the Influence of Goethe’s Scientific Thinking on Die Wahlverwandtschaften”. PhD thesis. Princeton University.
19. Saine, Thomas P. (1994). Goethe Yearbook, Volume 7 (pg. 61). Camden House.
20. Howard, William. (1918). The Encyclopedia of Americana: a Library of Universal Knowledge (Elective Affinities, pg. 68), Volume 10. Encyclopedia American Corp.
21. (a) Elective Affinities (watercolor, 7x9, 2001) – by Nohra Barros.
(b) Elective Affinities (14 Jan 2009) – GoetheEtc.Blogspot.com.
22. Kania, Andrew T. (2009). “Elective Affinities”, Catholical.com.
23. Williams, John R. (1998). The Life of Goethe (anagram, pg. 137; Otto anagram, pgs. 233-34). Blackwell.
24. Grimm, Herman F. (1880). The Life and Times of Goethe (§23: Study of Natural Science: “The Natural Daughter” and “Elective Affinities”, pgs. 442-74; quote, pg. 463). Trans. Sarah Adams. Little, Brown, and Company.
25. Ethics (book) – Wikipedia.
26. Benjamin, Andrew E. (2005). Walter Benjamin and Art (pg. 21). Continuum International Publishing Group.
27. 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.
28. Goethe, Johann. (1796). Lectures on Anatomy, I, 9, pg. 202f.
29. Eigen, Manfred, and Winkler, Ruthild. (1993). Laws of the Game: How the Principles of Nature Govern Chance (pg. 74-77). Princeton University Press.
30. North, Michael. (2008). Material Delight and the Joy of Living: Cultural Consumption in the Age of Enlightenment in Germany (pg. 13). Ashgate Publishing.
31. Ash, Mitchell G. (1998). Gestalt Psychology in German Culture, 1890-1967: Holism and the Quest for Objectivity (pg. 86). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading
● Kanigel, Rober. (1998). Vintage Reading: from Plato to Bradbury (Elective Affinities, pgs. 132-34). Brancroft Press.
● Benjamin, Walter. (1921). “Goethe’s Elective Affinities(Scribd), in: Selected Writings, 1913-1926, Volume 1, pgs. 297-). Harvard University Press, 1996.
● Reahard, Julie A. (1997). Aus einem unbekannten Zentrum, zu einer nicht erkennbaren Grenze: Chaos Theory, Hermeneutics, and Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften. Rodopi.
● Sengoopta, Chandak. (2000). Otto Weiniger: Sex, Science, and Self in Imperial Vienna (sexual affinity, 8+ pgs; Elective Affinities, 5+ pgs). University of Chicago Press.
● Atanasov, Svet. (2005). “Review: Elective Affinities (film)”, DVDTalk.com, Jun 21.
● Swatos, William H. (2005). “Elective Affinities”, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, Harvard Institute for Religion Research. AltaMira Press.
● Greineder, Daniel. (2005). “The Evasion of Love and the Onset of Calamity in Goethe’s Die Wahlvervandtschaften” (wahl, pgs. 31-32), Publications of the English Goethe Society 74: 25-36.
● Gurganus, Albert E. (2008). “Typologies of Repetition, Reflection, and Recurrence: Interpreting the Novella in Goethe’s wahlverwandtschaften”, in Goethe Yearbook: Publications of the Goethe Society of North America (pgs. 99-114). Camden House.
● Brodsky, Claudia. (2009). In the Place of Language (Elective Affinity, chemical theory, pgs. 151-). Fordham Univ. Press.

Letters and correspondences
● Lewisohn, Ludwig. (1949). Goethe: the Story of a Man: Being the Life of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as Told in his Own Words and the Words of his Contemporaries, Volume 1 (elective affinities, pg. 79). Farrar Straus and Co.
● Lewisohn, Ludwig. (1949). Goethe: the Story of a Man: Being the Life of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as Told in his Own Words and the Words of his Contemporaries, Volume 2 (elective affinities, 9-pages: 167, 174, 419, etc.). Farrar Straus and Co.

External links
Elective Affinities – Wikipedia.
Elective Affinities (timeline) – Google.com.
Elective Affinities – Facebook.com.

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