Interkulturelle Balance statt "clash of cultures": Zu Goethes 'West-östlichem Divan'

Translated title of the contribution: Intercultural Balance Instead of "Clash of Civilizations": About Goethe's 'West-Eastern Divan'

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Goethe's West-Eastern Divan is not really widely known, even though its title is surprisingly often quoted in the media. Illustrating the pattern of intercultural contact, the work serves as an alternative model to the bipolar and oppositional model of the "clash of cultures" as theorised by Samuel Huntingdon. This paper not only demonstrates to what extent the latter model involves dramatic oversimplifications; it also argues that the intercultural balance established in the Divan is far more complex than it is given credit for in the media. At various levels Goethe manages to bring about a two-way and permanently oscillating movement between West and East - be it in title and frontispiece, in the poems' textual genesis, in the work's manner of deconstructing cultural clichés, or in its discussion of the phenomenon of otherness. By these means and by skilfully promoting a reading which itself brings about the reciprocal and oscillating movement between West and East, the Divan positions itself beyond the clash of cultures and beyond the orientalism denounced by Edward Said.
Translated title of the contributionIntercultural Balance Instead of "Clash of Civilizations": About Goethe's 'West-Eastern Divan'
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)231-248
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • interculturality
  • Divan
  • clash of cultures
  • West-eastern Divan
  • intertextuality
  • Goethe
  • clash of civilizations


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