led by Bach, Heinrich Heine, Richard Wagner, GerhartrnHauptmann, Richard Strauss, Herder, Wieland, Feuerbach,rnAlexander von Humboldt, the two Cranach painters (fatherrnand son), Walter Gropius (who founded his celebratedrnBauhaus architectural school in Weimar during the 1920’s),rnand, of course, the greatest of the town’s “adopted sons,”rnGoethe and Schiller. That Weimar’s municipal authoritiesrnshould have made no effort to alter the street name of KarlrnLiebknecht, the ill-starred “Spartakist” revolutionary who wasrnmurdered by anti-communist Freikorps activists and casuallyrntossed into a Berlin canal in January 1919, is, I think, indicativernof the town’s essentially tolerant and ecumenical character, asrnis the name, Platz der Demokratie, that was imposed years agornon the palace square, which is dominated by a late 19th-centuryrnequestrian statue of Weimar’s most famous duke—the relativelyrn”enlightened” Garl August (1757-1828), who for morernthan four decades was Goethe’s friend and protector.rnWhat nobody, whether an unhurriedly pedestiian map readerrnor a more speedily cab-driven sightseer, can fail to noticernwhen he reaches the end of the Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse is thernred and white “No Access” disk barring automotive penetiationrninto Weimar’s Innenstadt. In November 1775, when Goethernfirst came to Weimar, the little town, which then numberedrn6,000 souls in a Lilliputian duchy of 34 square miles, was protectedrnby ramparts and ten watchtowers—only one of which,rnrising like a dark, baroque lighthouse over the rooftops of thernducal Schloss, still survives. Even though he had come at thernurgent invitation of the 18-year-old Duke Garl August (who hadrntraveled to Frankfurt to meet the celebrated arch-romantic authorrnof T/ie Suffering of the Young Werther), Goethe, like anyrnother stranger, had to register at the little town’s western gate,rnindicating his name, his rank, and the purpose of his visit.rnToday, it requires an effort of imagination to picture the extiaordinarilyrnfragmented state of 18th-century Germany, withrnits patchwork quilt of close to 300 jealously “independent”rnduchies, grand duchies, principalities, bishoprics, Reich-cities,rnand “free towns,” almost all of them surrounded by medievalrnramparts which, in an age of gunpowder, bombards, and siegerncannon, had ceased to be protective in any meaningful militaryrnsense, while remaining an economic bane for peasants andrnmerchants forced to pay a toll for the privilege of entering therntown or city with their wares.rnIn France, Louis XFV had decided as early as 1660 that therncapital city of Paris could be “disarmed” and divested of its rampartsrnwithout peril to its inhabitants. The result of this urbanrndisencumbrance was a ring of broad “boulevards”—a word ofrnNordic origin (boulewerke in Dutch, bulwarks in English) originallyrnderived from the wooden logs of “bole-work” that hadrnbeen used to buttress the old ramparts’ tunnel-like passages.rnHowever, it took the more timorous rulers of Weimar almost arncenhiry to dare to follow the Sun King’s example. The most notablernresult was the creation of a tree-lined esplanade of distinctlyrnmodest proportions, in one of whose ochre-huedrnburgher houses the poet Friedrich Schiller took up residencernin 1799. Unlike the car-crammed boulevards of Paris, this esplanadernis now being tiimed into a pleasant pedestiian farewayrnfor the hundreds of thousands of robustiy happy discontentedlyrnde-motorized foot-sloggers who will be converging on Weimarrnnext year.rnI do not pretend to be an expert on the curiously static circumstancesrnof Goethe’s long life, two-thirds of which he spentrnin Weimar. But it is, I think, safe to say that the 26-year-old poetrnand playwright would probably not have extended his stay inrnthe undistinguished ducal town, where hogs, geese, and errantrnlivestock still roamed the unpaved stieets, had Weimar in 1775rnnot been stiiving to “modernize” itself in an age of aristocraticrnelegance dominated by two of the most francophilic “enlightenedrndespots” ever to have sat upon a European throne: FrederickrnII of Prussia (who despised German as an uncouth languagernfit only for stable boys and corporals) and Catherine thernGreat of Russia. The stiong feeling of francophobic revulsionrnwhich later overtook the Saxon-born Gatherine after thernFrench Jacobins had guillotined their monarch in 1792 wasrnnever fully shared by Goethe; but there is little doubt that thernblow thus dealt to a hitherto dominant French culture by thernrevolutionary sans-culottes enhanced the growing prestige ofrnWilliam Shakespeare’s English and greatly spurred the developmentrnof a German language and literature which, untilrnGoethe burst on the scene, had remained for the most part arnlanguage of pedantic scholars and theologians.rnThe first person to have conceived the idea of making thernlittle Thuringian town of Weimar a center of German culturernwas neither Goethe nor his princely pation, Duke Carl August,rnwho in his younger years was more interested in sowing arnfew wild oats by riotous hunting, drinking, and skirt-lifting thanrnhe was in quietly reading books of poetry. No, Weimar’s firstrnimportant benefactor was the duke’s small, imprepossessing,rnbut nimble-minded mother, the dowager duchess AnnarnAmalia. Widowed at the age of 19, this niece of Frederick thernGreat had to use all of her feminine charm, administrativerncommon sense, and feminine guile to reestablish the financialrnsolvency of a town that had been virtually bankrupted by arnspendthrift duke (her father-in-law).rnThe name “Weimar,” it seems, is derived from two old Germanicrnwords—Wiha-Mari (holy still water)—applied centuriesrnago to the gentiy flowing Ilm. Since the Ilm, a lovely, willowand-rnash-flanked brook, was far removed from the wealth-bringingrnwaterways and tiade routes of medieval and post-RenaissancernGermany, the shrewd dowager duchess Anna Amaliarndecided that the best way to drag Weimar from its impecuniousrnobscurity was to play the cultiiral card for all it was worth. In thernnearby university town of Erfurt, Ghristoph Martin Wielandrnhad begun to make a name for himself with his graceful versern”romances” and his translations of Shakespeare’s plays. Hernhad, furthermore, recently published a didactic novel, ThernGold Mirror, or the Kings of Scheschian, in which he had expoimdedrnhis views as to how a prince should be brought up inrnorder to become an “enlightened” ruler of his subjects. Thernessence of Wieland’s message was summed up in a single sentence,rnworth quoting for the relevance it has for the urgentrnproblems of today: “A state could have the best laws, the best religion,rnthe most flourishing condition of its sciences and arts,rnand nevertheless be ill ordained if the legislator had first shownrnhis lack of wisdom by overlooking one point, on which in everyrntiny respect everything depends, the education of the young.”rnSensible recommendations like this one—so different fromrnthe visionary “permissiveness” of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’srnEmile (a child must be granted a maximum of freedom and allowedrnto grow up as unfettered and “naturally” as a tree) —rnmade such an impression on Wieland’s contemporaries that hisrndidactic novel was translated into French —in those days arnsupreme encomium. In a sttoke of genius, the astute dowagerrnduchess invited Wieland to come to Weimar to tutor her tworn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn