Image: The Wetterhorn from Rosenlaui, image by courtesy of Alpine Light & Structure.
Ink: From Johann Peter Eckermann's Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret, translated by John Oxenford, George Bell & Sons, London, 1883.
I turned the conversation back to Shakspeare. "When one, to some degree, disengages him from English literature," said I, " and considers him transformed into a German, one cannot fail to look upon his gigantic greatness as a miracle. But if one seeks him in his home, transplants oneself to the soil of his country, and to the atmosphere of the century in which he lived ; further, if one studies his contemporaries, and his immediate successors, and inhales the force wafted to us from Ben Jonson, Massinger, Marlow, and Beaumont and Fletcher, Shakspeare still, indeed, appears a being of the most exalted magnitude ; but still, one arrives at the conviction that many of the wonders of his genius are, in some measure, accessible, and that much is due to the powerfully productive atmosphere of his age and time."
"You are perfectly right," returned Goethe. "It is with Shakspeare as with the mountains of Switzerland. Transplant Mont Blanc at once into the large plain of Lüneburg Heath, and we should find no words to express our wonder at its magnitude. Seek it, however, in its gigantic home, go to it over its immense neighbours, the Jungfrau, the Finsteraarhorn, the Eiger, the Wetterhorn, St. Gothard, and Monte Rosa; Mont Blanc will, indeed, still remain a giant, but it will no longer produce in us such amazement."