Modern Language Conference.
Professor Francke made a departure from the announced program of the evening to call the attention of the meeting to the possible influence of Hypneratomachia Poliphili published in Venice in 1499 on the second part of Goethe's Faust. The correspondence between Goethe and his friend Gottling, professor at Jena, shows that Goethe knew of the above mentioned work but had little or no acquaintance with the text. This book is full of wood-cuts strikingly suggestive of much of the second part of Faust, and as the correspondence took place at the same time Goethe was writing this half it is not at all improbable that he was influenced by these wood-cuts. The most conspicuous coincidence is in regard to the mother scene. Goethe himself when asked where he got his idea said from Plutarch. In the Hypnerotomachia however, there are two wood-cuts, the first showing a rock in which are cut three gates, the inscription over the middle one being "mater amoris," the second showing the meeting of the hero after he had passed through the gate with several woman, one of whom, a motherly looking woman, is standing, pointing upward.
Prof. Francke has written to the Goethe library to find if the Hypnerotomachia is among Goethe's books. In case it is, there is a strong probability that Goethe had these wood-cuts in mind while writing the second half of Faust.