In the second part of the novel Elective Affinities, young Ottilie registered the following words in her diary: "The only inquirers into nature whom we care to respect, are such as know how to describe and to represent to us the strange wonderful things which they have seen in their proper locality, each in its own special element. How I should enjoy once hearing Humboldt talk!". Besides Goethe's admiration for Humboldt, this excerpt reveals his interest in natural sciences, which experienced significant intensification in September 1824 when Goethe established a personal contact with botanist Carl F. P. von Martius. In this young interlocutor, Goethe soon recognized the qualities of a naturalist which, in the novel, were attributed to Humboldt. He then developed a keen interest in and started to keep up with the publications in which Martius elaborated research, observations and experiments carried out throughout the three and a half years in which he travelled across more than ten thousand kilometers of Brazilian territory together with zoologist Spix. Thus, a most fruitful scientific and cultural exchange arose, rooted mainly in the pantheistic conceptions shared by Weimar's old poet and the young botanist. In addition to focusing on some aspects of Martius's expeditions in Brazil, the present essay aims to expose the reception given to them by Goethe and discuss occasional influxes in his literary production. The reelaboration, in 1825, of one of the songs Goethe had written 43 years earlier with the subtitle Brasilianisch is certainly due to this exchange. We also aim to discuss the hypothesis that certain texts and conceptions by Martius have left marks on passages in the second part of Faust.
Mazzari, M. V. (2010). Natureza ou Deus: Afinidades panteístas entre Goethe e o “brasileiro” Martius. Estudos Avancados, 24(69), 183–202. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-40142010000200012