its conformity to the traditional standards of what a tragedy should be. He
himself was accustomed to refer to it cynically as a monstrosity, and yet he
put himself into it as intensely as Dante put himself into "The Divine Comedy."
A partial explanation of this apparent contradiction in the author's attitude is to
be found in what has been said of its manner of composition. Goethe began it
in his romantic youth, and availed himself recklessly of the supernatural
elements in the legend, with the disregard of reason and plausibility
characteristic of the romantic mood. When he returned to it in the beginning of