He had renounced the immediate literary quarrels with his numerous opponents; the weapons that were being led were too crude. All the more did he feel like attacking the incorrigible philistines with a poetic joke, which has never before had the effect had failed. In the summer of 1801 the plan of a comprehensive comedic comedy was born, in which he thought to pronounce many others what he had on his mind. The fable was borrowed from Ben Jonson’s The devil is an ass. It was the story of a stupid devil who misses, the decrepit hell that, as a result of education, has completely lost its influence, regaining the wiser world, but the test is one of shame and stupidity. He called this seal “anti-Faust”. Since he did not spare himself and his works, it could also be considered to speak freely and openly to others. And he was allowed to introduce the Aristophanes himself, because perhaps his joke had never arisen to this Aristophan power and repartee. Unfortunately, he betrayed the secret too soon. He had told some booksellers about the new poetry, but when they heard that Herder’s letters of humanity were not spared, they were startled and rejected such a dangerous article. He put aside what he had started for better times with distaste and disdain. but the happy mood which it was to accomplish did not return.
For a generation, Weimar was the center of intellectual life in Germany. A new time had come from here since Goethe had chosen it as his residence. He had found Wieland there, dragged Herder with him, and Schiller was going to be in the same place. Seldom have more important forces been united in a narrower space; In fact, the greater talent seemed to follow the larger one. What a rich life was not in this cooperation! Rich in deep thoughts, in poetic creations, in reshaping folk influences! Little Weimar had become a classic soil; from here German poetry received its laws.
Next to Weimar was Jena. The old university had won new youth food. If Weimar had poetry for itself, then Jena belonged to science. Hardly any other big names shone here. Here the Kantian philosophy had its seat, then Fichte had followed, last Schelling had proclaimed the new philosophy of the nature. Beside them stood many other important authority. Griesbach the theologian, Eichstädt the philologist, Woltmann the historian, A. W. Schlegel the critic and aesthetics. And what power could be more attractive than the mind? No sooner had there been an outstanding talent, which would not have been attracted to this world, and would at least have stayed in it for a short time, according to Jean Paul, Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis.