Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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"Goethe" and "Göte" redirect here. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_0

For other uses, see Goethe (disambiguation) and Gote (disambiguation). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_1

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_table_infobox_0

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_0_0
BornJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_1_0 Johann Wolfgang Goethe

(1749-08-28)28 August 1749 Free Imperial City of Frankfurt, Holy Roman EmpireJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_1_1

DiedJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_2_0 22 March 1832(1832-03-22) (aged 82)

Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, German ConfederationJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_2_1

OccupationJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_3_0 Poet, novelist, playwright, natural philosopher, diplomat, civil servantJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_3_1
Alma materJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_4_0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_4_1
Literary movementJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_5_0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_5_1
Notable worksJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_6_0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_6_1
SpouseJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_7_0 Christiane Vulpius

​ ​(m. 1806; died 1816)​Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_7_1

ChildrenJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_8_0 5 (4 died young)Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_8_1
RelativesJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_9_0 Cornelia Schlosser (sister)

Christian August Vulpius (brother-in-law)Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_9_1

SignatureJohann Wolfgang von Goethe_header_cell_0_10_0 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_cell_0_10_1

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_2

His works include: four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_3

In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_4

He is considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_5

A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, in 1782 after taking up residence in Weimar in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_6

He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_7

During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe became a member of the Duke's privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_8

He also contributed to the planning of Weimar's botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_9

Goethe's first major scientific work, the Metamorphosis of Plants, was published after he returned from a 1788 tour of Italy. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_10

In 1791 he was made managing director of the theatre at Weimar, and in 1794 he began a friendship with the dramatist, historian, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, whose plays he premiered until Schiller's death in 1805. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_11

During this period Goethe published his second novel, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship; the verse epic Hermann and Dorothea, and, in 1808, the first part of his most celebrated drama, Faust. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_12

His conversations and various shared undertakings throughout the 1790s with Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Gottfried Herder, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and August and Friedrich Schlegel have come to be collectively termed Weimar Classicism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_13

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer named Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship one of the four greatest novels ever written, while the American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson selected Goethe as one of six "representative men" in his work of the same name (along with Plato, Emanuel Swedenborg, Montaigne, Napoleon, and Shakespeare). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_14

Goethe's comments and observations form the basis of several biographical works, notably Johann Peter Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe (1836). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_15

Life Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_0

Early life Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_1

Goethe's father, Johann Caspar Goethe, lived with his family in a large house (today the Goethe House) in Frankfurt, then an Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_16

Though he had studied law in Leipzig and had been appointed Imperial Councillor, he was not involved in the city's official affairs. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_17

Johann Caspar married Goethe's mother, Catharina Elizabeth Textor at Frankfurt on 20 August 1748, when he was 38 and she was 17. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_18

All their children, with the exception of Johann Wolfgang and his sister, Cornelia Friederica Christiana, who was born in 1750, died at early ages. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_19

His father and private tutors gave Goethe lessons in all the common subjects of their time, especially languages (Latin, Greek, French, Italian, English and Hebrew). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_20

Goethe also received lessons in dancing, riding and fencing. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_21

Johann Caspar, feeling frustrated in his own ambitions, was determined that his children should have all those advantages that he had not. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_22

Although Goethe's great passion was drawing, he quickly became interested in literature; Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and Homer were among his early favorites. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_23

He had a lively devotion to theater as well and was greatly fascinated by puppet shows that were annually arranged in his home; this is a recurrent theme in his literary work Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_24

He also took great pleasure in reading works on history and religion. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_25

He writes about this period: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_26

Goethe also became acquainted with Frankfurt actors. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_27

Among early literary attempts, he was infatuated with Gretchen, who would later reappear in his Faust and the adventures with whom he would concisely describe in Dichtung und Wahrheit. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_28

He adored Caritas Meixner (1750–1773), a wealthy Worms trader's daughter and friend of his sister, who would later marry the merchant G. F. Schuler. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_29

Legal career Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_2

Goethe studied law at Leipzig University from 1765 to 1768. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_30

He detested learning age-old judicial rules by heart, preferring instead to attend the poetry lessons of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_31

In Leipzig, Goethe fell in love with Anna Katharina Schönkopf and wrote cheerful verses about her in the Rococo genre. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_32

In 1770, he anonymously released Annette, his first collection of poems. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_33

His uncritical admiration for many contemporary poets vanished as he became interested in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Christoph Martin Wieland. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_34

Already at this time, Goethe wrote a good deal, but he threw away nearly all of these works, except for the comedy Die Mitschuldigen. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_35

The restaurant Auerbachs Keller and its legend of Faust's 1525 barrel ride impressed him so much that Auerbachs Keller became the only real place in his closet drama Faust Part One. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_36

As his studies did not progress, Goethe was forced to return to Frankfurt at the close of August 1768. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_37

Goethe became severely ill in Frankfurt. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_38

During the year and a half that followed, because of several relapses, the relationship with his father worsened. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_39

During convalescence, Goethe was nursed by his mother and sister. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_40

In April 1770, Goethe left Frankfurt in order to finish his studies at the University of Strasbourg. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_41

In Alsace, Goethe blossomed. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_42

No other landscape has he described as affectionately as the warm, wide Rhine area. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_43

In Strasbourg, Goethe met Johann Gottfried Herder. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_44

The two became close friends, and crucially to Goethe's intellectual development, Herder kindled his interest in Shakespeare, Ossian and in the notion of Volkspoesie (folk poetry). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_45

On 14 October 1772 Goethe held a gathering in his parental home in honour of the first German "Shakespeare Day". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_46

His first acquaintance with Shakespeare's works is described as his personal awakening in literature. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_47

On a trip to the village Sessenheim, Goethe fell in love with Friederike Brion, in October 1770, but, after ten months, terminated the relationship in August 1771. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_48

Several of his poems, like "Willkommen und Abschied", "Sesenheimer Lieder" and "Heidenröslein", originate from this time. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_49

At the end of August 1771, Goethe acquired the academic degree of the Lizenziat (Licentia docendi) in Frankfurt and established a small legal practice. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_50

Although in his academic work he had expressed the ambition to make jurisprudence progressively more humane, his inexperience led him to proceed too vigorously in his first cases, and he was reprimanded and lost further ones. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_51

This prematurely terminated his career as a lawyer after only a few months. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_52

At this time, Goethe was acquainted with the court of Darmstadt, where his inventiveness was praised. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_53

From this milieu came Johann Georg Schlosser (who was later to become his brother-in-law) and Johann Heinrich Merck. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_54

Goethe also pursued literary plans again; this time, his father did not have anything against it, and even helped. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_55

Goethe obtained a copy of the biography of a noble highwayman from the German Peasants' War. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_56

In a couple of weeks the biography was reworked into a colourful drama. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_57

Entitled Götz von Berlichingen, the work went directly to the heart of Goethe's contemporaries. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_58

Goethe could not subsist on being one of the editors of a literary periodical (published by Schlosser and Merck). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_59

In May 1772 he once more began the practice of law at Wetzlar. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_60

In 1774 he wrote the book which would bring him worldwide fame, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_61

The outer shape of the work's plot is widely taken over from what Goethe experienced during his Wetzlar time with Charlotte Buff (1753–1828) and her fiancé, Johann Christian Kestner (1741–1800), as well as from the suicide of the author's friend Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem (1747–1772); in it, Goethe made a desperate passion of what was in reality a hearty and relaxed friendship. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_62

Despite the immense success of Werther, it did not bring Goethe much financial gain because copyright laws at the time were essentially nonexistent. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_63

(In later years Goethe would bypass this problem by periodically authorizing "new, revised" editions of his Complete Works.) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_64

Early years in Weimar Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_3

In 1775, Goethe was invited, on the strength of his fame as the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther, to the court of Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who would become Grand Duke in 1815. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_65

(The Duke at the time was 18 years of age, to Goethe's 26.) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_66

Goethe thus went to live in Weimar, where he remained for the rest of his life and where, over the course of many years, he held a succession of offices, becoming the Duke's friend and chief adviser. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_67

In 1776, Goethe formed a close relationship to Charlotte von Stein, an older, married woman. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_68

The intimate bond with von Stein lasted for ten years, after which Goethe abruptly left for Italy without giving his companion any notice. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_69

She was emotionally distraught at the time, but they were eventually reconciled. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_70

Goethe, aside from official duties, was also a friend and confidant to the Duke, and participated fully in the activities of the court. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_71

For Goethe, his first ten years at Weimar could well be described as a garnering of a degree and range of experience which perhaps could be achieved in no other way. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_72

In 1779, Goethe took on the War Commission of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, in addition to the Mines and Highways commissions. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_73

In 1782, when the chancellor of the Duchy's Exchequer left his office, Goethe agreed to act in his place for two and a half years; this post virtually made him prime minister and the principal representative of the Duchy. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_74

Goethe was ennobled in 1782 (this being indicated by the "von" in his name). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_75

As head of the Saxe-Weimar War Commission, Goethe participated in the recruitment of mercenaries into the Prussian and British military during the American Revolution. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_76

The author W. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_77 Daniel Wilson [] claims that Goethe engaged in negotiating the forced sale of vagabonds, criminals, and political dissidents as part of these activities. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_78

Italy Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_4

Goethe's journey to the Italian peninsula and Sicily from 1786 to 1788 was of great significance in his aesthetic and philosophical development. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_79

His father had made a similar journey during his own youth, and his example was a major motivating factor for Goethe to make the trip. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_80

More importantly, however, the work of Johann Joachim Winckelmann had provoked a general renewed interest in the classical art of ancient Greece and Rome. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_81

Thus Goethe's journey had something of the nature of a pilgrimage to it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_82

During the course of his trip Goethe met and befriended the artists Angelica Kauffman and Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, as well as encountering such notable characters as Lady Hamilton and Alessandro Cagliostro (see Affair of the Diamond Necklace). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_83

He also journeyed to Sicily during this time, and wrote intriguingly that "To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_84

While in Southern Italy and Sicily, Goethe encountered, for the first time genuine Greek (as opposed to Roman) architecture, and was quite startled by its relative simplicity. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_85

Winckelmann had not recognized the distinctness of the two styles. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_86

Goethe's diaries of this period form the basis of the non-fiction Italian Journey. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_87

Italian Journey only covers the first year of Goethe's visit. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_88

The remaining year is largely undocumented, aside from the fact that he spent much of it in Venice. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_89

This "gap in the record" has been the source of much speculation over the years. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_90

In the decades which immediately followed its publication in 1816, Italian Journey inspired countless German youths to follow Goethe's example. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_91

This is pictured, somewhat satirically, in George Eliot's Middlemarch. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_92

Weimar Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_5

In late 1792, Goethe took part in the Battle of Valmy against revolutionary France, assisting Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach during the failed invasion of France. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_93

Again during the Siege of Mainz, he assisted Carl August as a military observer. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_94

His written account of these events can be found within his Complete Works. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_95

In 1794, Friedrich Schiller wrote to Goethe offering friendship; they had previously had only a mutually wary relationship ever since first becoming acquainted in 1788. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_96

This collaborative friendship lasted until Schiller's death in 1805. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_97

In 1806, Goethe was living in Weimar with his mistress Christiane Vulpius, the sister of Christian A. Vulpius, and their son Julius August Walther []. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_98

On 13 October, Napoleon's army invaded the town. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_99

The French "spoon guards", the least disciplined soldiers, occupied Goethe's house: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_100

Days afterward, on 19 October 1806, Goethe legitimized their 18-year relationship by marrying Christiane in a quiet marriage service at the Jakobskirche in Weimar []. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_101

They had already had several children together by this time, including their son, Julius August Walter von Goethe (1789–1830), whose wife, Ottilie von Pogwisch (1796–1872), cared for the elder Goethe until his death in 1832. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_102

August and Ottilie had three children: Walther, Freiherr von Goethe (1818–1885), Wolfgang, Freiherr von Goethe [] (1820–1883) and Alma von Goethe [] (1827–1844). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_103

Christiane von Goethe died in 1816. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_104

Johann reflected, "There is nothing more charming to see than a mother with her child in her arms, and there is nothing more venerable than a mother among a number of her children." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_105

Later life Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_6

After 1793, Goethe devoted his endeavours primarily to literature. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_106

By 1820, Goethe was on amiable terms with Kaspar Maria von Sternberg. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_107

In 1823, having recovered from a near fatal heart illness, the 74-year-old Goethe fell in love with the teenaged Ulrike von Levetzow whom he wanted to marry, but because of the opposition of her mother he never proposed. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_108

Their last meeting in Carlsbad on 5 September 1823 inspired him to the famous Marienbad Elegy which he considered one of his finest works. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_109

During that time he also developed a deep emotional bond with the Polish pianist Maria Agata Szymanowska. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_110

In 1821 Goethe's friend Carl Friedrich Zelter introduced him to the 12-year-old Felix Mendelssohn. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_111

Goethe, now in his seventies, was greatly impressed by the child, leading to perhaps the earliest confirmed comparison with Mozart in the following conversation between Goethe and Zelter: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_112

Mendelssohn was invited to meet Goethe on several later occasions, and set a number of Goethe's poems to music. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_113

His other compositions inspired by Goethe include the overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage (Op. 27, 1828), and the cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night, Op. 60, 1832). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_114

Death Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_7

In 1832, Goethe died in Weimar of apparent heart failure. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_115

His last words, according to his doctor Carl Vogel, were, Mehr Licht! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_116

(More light! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_117

), but this is disputed as Vogel was not in the room at the moment Goethe died. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_118

He is buried in the Ducal Vault at Weimar's Historical Cemetery. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_119

Eckermann closes his famous work, Conversations with Goethe, with this passage: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_120

The first production of Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin took place in Weimar in 1850. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_121

The conductor was Franz Liszt, who chose the date 28 August in honour of Goethe, who was born on 28 August 1749. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_122

Literary work Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_8

Overview Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_9

The most important of Goethe's works produced before he went to Weimar were Götz von Berlichingen (1773), a tragedy that was the first work to bring him recognition, and the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (German: Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) (1774), which gained him enormous fame as a writer in the Sturm und Drang period which marked the early phase of Romanticism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_123

Indeed, Werther is often considered to be the "spark" which ignited the movement, and can arguably be called the world's first "best-seller." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_124

During the years at Weimar before he met Schiller he began Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, wrote the dramas Iphigenie auf Tauris (Iphigenia in Tauris), Egmont, Torquato Tasso, and the fable Reineke Fuchs. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_125

To the period of his friendship with Schiller belong the conception of Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years (the continuation of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship), the idyll of Hermann and Dorothea, the Roman Elegies and the verse drama The Natural Daughter. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_126

In the last period, between Schiller's death, in 1805, and his own, appeared Faust Part One, Elective Affinities, the West-Eastern Diwan (a collection of poems in the Persian style, influenced by the work of Hafez), his autobiographical Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (From My Life: Poetry and Truth) which covers his early life and ends with his departure for Weimar, his Italian Journey, and a series of treatises on art. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_127

His writings were immediately influential in literary and artistic circles. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_128

Goethe was fascinated by Kalidasa's Abhijñānaśākuntalam, which was one of the first works of Sanskrit literature that became known in Europe, after being translated from English to German. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_129

Details of selected works Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_10

The short epistolary novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, or The Sorrows of Young Werther, published in 1774, recounts an unhappy romantic infatuation that ends in suicide. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_130

Goethe admitted that he "shot his hero to save himself": a reference to Goethe's own near-suicidal obsession with a young woman during this period, an obsession he quelled through the writing process. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_131

The novel remains in print in dozens of languages and its influence is undeniable; its central hero, an obsessive figure driven to despair and destruction by his unrequited love for the young Lotte, has become a pervasive literary archetype. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_132

The fact that Werther ends with the protagonist's suicide and funeral—a funeral which "no clergyman attended"—made the book deeply controversial upon its (anonymous) publication, for on the face of it, it appeared to condone and glorify suicide. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_133

Suicide is considered sinful by Christian doctrine: suicides were denied Christian burial with the bodies often mistreated and dishonoured in various ways; in corollary, the deceased's property and possessions were often confiscated by the Church. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_134

However, Goethe explained his use of Werther in his autobiography. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_135

He said he "turned reality into poetry but his friends thought poetry should be turned into reality and the poem imitated." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_136

He was against this reading of poetry. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_137

Epistolary novels were common during this time, letter-writing being a primary mode of communication. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_138

What set Goethe's book apart from other such novels was its expression of unbridled longing for a joy beyond possibility, its sense of defiant rebellion against authority, and of principal importance, its total subjectivity: qualities that trailblazed the Romantic movement. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_139

The next work, his epic closet drama Faust, was completed in stages. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_140

The first part was published in 1808 and created a sensation. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_141

Goethe finished Faust Part Two in the year of his death, and the work was published posthumously. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_142

Goethe's original draft of a Faust play, which probably dates from 1773–74, and is now known as the Urfaust, was also published after his death. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_143

The first operatic version of Goethe's Faust, by Louis Spohr, appeared in 1814. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_144

The work subsequently inspired operas and oratorios by Schumann, Berlioz, Gounod, Boito, Busoni, and Schnittke as well as symphonic works by Liszt, Wagner, and Mahler. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_145

Faust became the of many figures in the 19th century. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_146

Later, a facet of its plot, i.e., of selling one's soul to the devil for power over the physical world, took on increasing literary importance and became a view of the victory of technology and of industrialism, along with its dubious human expenses. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_147

In 1919, the world premiere complete production of Faust was staged at the Goetheanum. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_148

Goethe's poetic work served as a model for an entire movement in German poetry termed Innerlichkeit ("introversion") and represented by, for example, Heine. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_149

Goethe's words inspired a number of compositions by, among others, Mozart, Beethoven (who idolised Goethe), Schubert, Berlioz and Wolf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_150

Perhaps the single most influential piece is "Mignon's Song" which opens with one of the most famous lines in German poetry, an allusion to Italy: "Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn?" Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_151

("Do you know the land where the lemon trees bloom? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_152

"). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_153

He is also widely quoted. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_154

Epigrams such as "Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him", "Divide and rule, a sound motto; unite and lead, a better one", and "Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must", are still in usage or are often paraphrased. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_155

Lines from Faust, such as "Das also war des Pudels Kern", "Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss", or "Grau ist alle Theorie" have entered everyday German usage. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_156

Some well-known quotations are often incorrectly attributed to Goethe. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_157

These include Hippocrates' "Art is long, life is short", which is echoed in Goethe's Faust and Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_158

Scientific work Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_11

See also: Goethean science Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_159

Although his literary work has attracted the greatest amount of interest, Goethe was also keenly involved in studies of natural science. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_160

He wrote several works on morphology, and colour theory. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_161

Goethe also had the largest private collection of minerals in all of Europe. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_162

By the time of his death, in order to gain a comprehensive view in geology, he had collected 17,800 rock samples. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_163

His focus on morphology and what was later called homology influenced 19th century naturalists, although his ideas of transformation were about the continuous metamorphosis of living things and did not relate to contemporary ideas of "transformisme" or transmutation of species. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_164

Homology, or as Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire called it "analogie", was used by Charles Darwin as strong evidence of common descent and of laws of variation. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_165

Goethe's studies (notably with an elephant's skull lent to him by Samuel Thomas von Soemmerring) led him to independently discover the human intermaxillary bone, also known as "Goethe's bone", in 1784, which Broussonet (1779) and Vicq d'Azyr (1780) had (using different methods) identified several years earlier. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_166

While not the only one in his time to question the prevailing view that this bone did not exist in humans, Goethe, who believed ancient anatomists had known about this bone, was the first to prove its existence in all mammals. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_167

The elephant's skull that led Goethe to this discovery, and was subsequently named the Goethe Elephant, still exists and is displayed in the Ottoneum in Kassel, Germany. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_168

During his Italian journey, Goethe formulated a theory of plant metamorphosis in which the archetypal form of the plant is to be found in the leaf – he writes, "from top to bottom a plant is all leaf, united so inseparably with the future bud that one cannot be imagined without the other". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_169

In 1790, he published his Metamorphosis of Plants. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_170

As one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, Goethe wrote in Story of My Botanical Studies (1831): Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_171

Goethe's botanical theories were partly based on his gardening in Weimar. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_172

Goethe also popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_173

According to Hegel, "Goethe has occupied himself a good deal with meteorology; barometer readings interested him particularly... What he says is important: the main thing is that he gives a comparative table of barometric readings during the whole month of December 1822, at Weimar, Jena, London, Boston, Vienna, Töpel... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_174

He claims to deduce from it that the barometric level varies in the same proportion not only in each zone but that it has the same variation, too, at different altitudes above sea-level". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_175

In 1810, Goethe published his Theory of Colours, which he considered his most important work. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_176

In it, he contentiously characterized colour as arising from the dynamic interplay of light and darkness through the mediation of a turbid medium. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_177

In 1816, Schopenhauer went on to develop his own theory in On Vision and Colours based on the observations supplied in Goethe's book. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_178

After being translated into English by Charles Eastlake in 1840, his theory became widely adopted by the art world, most notably J. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_179 M. W. Turner. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_180

Goethe's work also inspired the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, to write his Remarks on Colour. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_181

Goethe was vehemently opposed to Newton's analytic treatment of colour, engaging instead in compiling a comprehensive rational description of a wide variety of colour phenomena. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_182

Although the accuracy of Goethe's observations does not admit a great deal of criticism, his aesthetic approach did not lend itself to the demands of analytic and mathematical analysis used ubiquitously in modern Science. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_183

Goethe was, however, the first to systematically study the physiological effects of colour, and his observations on the effect of opposed colours led him to a symmetric arrangement of his colour wheel, "for the colours diametrically opposed to each other ... are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_184

In this, he anticipated Ewald Hering's opponent colour theory (1872). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_185

Goethe outlines his method in the essay The experiment as mediator between subject and object (1772). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_186

In the Kurschner edition of Goethe's works, the science editor, Rudolf Steiner, presents Goethe's approach to science as phenomenological. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_187

Steiner elaborated on that in the books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception and Goethe's World View, in which he characterizes intuition as the instrument by which one grasps Goethe's biological archetype—The Typus. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_188

Novalis, himself a geologist and mining engineer, expressed the opinion that Goethe was the first physicist of his time and "epoch-making in the history of physics", writing that Goethe's studies of light, of the metamorphosis of plants and of insects were indications and proofs "that the perfect educational lecture belongs in the artist's sphere of work"; and that Goethe would be surpassed "but only in the way in which the ancients can be surpassed, in inner content and force, in variety and depth—as an artist actually not, or only very little, for his rightness and intensity are perhaps already more exemplary than it would seem". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_189

Eroticism Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_12

Many of Goethe's works, especially Faust, the Roman Elegies, and the Venetian Epigrams, depict erotic passions and acts. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_190

For instance, in Faust, the first use of Faust's power after signing a contract with the devil is to seduce a teenage girl. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_191

Some of the Venetian Epigrams were held back from publication due to their sexual content. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_192

Goethe clearly saw human sexuality as a topic worthy of poetic and artistic depiction, an idea that was uncommon in a time when the private nature of sexuality was rigorously normative. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_193

In a conversation on April 7, 1830 Goethe stated that pederasty is an "aberration" that easily leads to "animal, roughly material" behavior. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_194

He continued, "Pederasty is as old as humanity itself, and one can therefore say, that it resides in nature, even if it proceeds against nature....What culture has won from nature will not be surrendered or given up at any price." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_195

On another occasion he wrote: "I like boys a lot, but the girls are even nicer. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_196

If I tire of her as a girl, she'll play the boy for me as well". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_197

Religion and politics Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_13

Goethe was a freethinker who believed that one could be inwardly Christian without following any of the Christian churches, many of whose central teachings he firmly opposed, sharply distinguishing between Christ and the tenets of Christian theology, and criticizing its history as a "hodgepodge of fallacy and violence". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_198

His own descriptions of his relationship to the Christian faith and even to the Church varied widely and have been interpreted even more widely, so that while Goethe's secretary Eckermann portrayed him as enthusiastic about Christianity, Jesus, Martin Luther, and the Protestant Reformation, even calling Christianity the "ultimate religion," on one occasion Goethe described himself as "not anti-Christian, nor un-Christian, but most decidedly non-Christian," and in his Venetian Epigram 66, Goethe listed the symbol of the cross among the four things that he most disliked. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_199

According to Nietzsche, Goethe had "a kind of almost joyous and trusting fatalism" that has "faith that only in the totality everything redeems itself and appears good and justified." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_200

Born into a Lutheran family, Goethe's early faith was shaken by news of such events as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and the Seven Years' War. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_201

Goethe's preoccupation with and reverence for Spinoza are well known and documented in the history of Western thought. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_202

He was one of the central figures in a great flowering of a highly influential Neo-Spinozism which occurred in German philosophy and literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.—that was the first remarkable Spinoza revival in history. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_203

Like Lessing and Herder, in many respects, Goethe was a devoted Spinozist. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_204

He was also a pantheist, like some other prominent Spinozists such as Flaubert and Albert Einstein. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_205

His later spiritual perspective incorporated elements of pantheism (heavily influenced by Spinoza's thought), humanism, and various elements of Western esotericism, as seen most vividly in part 2 of Faust. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_206

Like Heinrich Heine, Nietzsche mentions in his writings frequently Goethe and Spinoza as a pair. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_207

A year before his death, in a letter to Sulpiz Boisserée, Goethe wrote that he had the feeling that all his life he had been aspiring to qualify as one of the Hypsistarians, an ancient sect of the Black Sea region who, in his understanding, sought to reverence, as being close to the Godhead, what came to their knowledge of the best and most perfect. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_208

Goethe's unorthodox religious beliefs led him to be called "the great heathen" and provoked distrust among the authorities of his time, who opposed the creation of a Goethe monument on account of his offensive religious creed. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_209

August Wilhelm Schlegel considered Goethe "a heathen who converted to Islam." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_210

Politically, Goethe described himself as a "moderate liberal." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_211

He was critical of the radicalism of Bentham and expressed sympathy for the prudent liberalism of François Guizot. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_212

At the time of the French Revolution, he thought the enthusiasm of the students and professors to be a perversion of their energy and remained skeptical of the ability of the masses to govern. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_213

Goethe sympathized with the American Revolution and later wrote a poem in which he declared "America, you're better off than our continent, the old." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_214

He did not join in the anti-Napoleonic mood of 1812, and he distrusted the strident nationalism which started to be expressed. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_215

The medievalism of the Heidelberg Romantics was also repellent to Goethe's eighteenth-century ideal of a supra-national culture. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_216

Goethe was a Freemason, joining the lodge Amalia in Weimar in 1780, and frequently alluded to Masonic themes of universal brotherhood in his work, he was also attracted to the Bavarian Illuminati a secret society founded on 1 May 1776. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_217

Although often requested to write poems arousing nationalist passions, Goethe would always decline. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_218

In old age, he explained why this was so to Eckermann: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_219

Influence Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_section_14

Goethe had a great effect on the nineteenth century. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_220

In many respects, he was the originator of many ideas which later became widespread. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_221

He produced volumes of poetry, essays, criticism, a theory of colours and early work on evolution and linguistics. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_222

He was fascinated by mineralogy, and the mineral goethite (iron oxide) is named after him. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_223

His non-fiction writings, most of which are philosophic and aphoristic in nature, spurred the development of many thinkers, including Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Cassirer, and Carl Jung. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_224

Along with Schiller, he was one of the leading figures of Weimar Classicism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_225

Schopenhauer cited Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship as one of the four greatest novels ever written, along with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Héloïse and Don Quixote. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_226

Nietzsche wrote, "Four pairs it was that did not deny themselves to my sacrifice: Epicurus and Montaigne, Goethe and Spinoza, Plato and Rousseau, Pascal and Schopenhauer. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_227

With these I must come to terms when I have long wandered alone; they may call me right and wrong; to them will I listen when in the process they call each other right and wrong." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_228

Goethe embodied many of the contending strands in art over the next century: his work could be lushly emotional, and rigorously formal, brief and epigrammatic, and epic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_229

He would argue that Classicism was the means of controlling art, and that Romanticism was a sickness, even as he penned poetry rich in memorable images, and rewrote the formal rules of German poetry. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_230

His poetry was set to music by almost every major Austrian and German composer from Mozart to Mahler, and his influence would spread to French drama and opera as well. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_231

Beethoven declared that a "Faust" Symphony would be the greatest thing for art. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_232

Liszt and Mahler both created symphonies in whole or in large part inspired by this seminal work, which would give the 19th century one of its most paradigmatic figures: Doctor Faustus. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_233

The Faust tragedy/drama, often called Das Drama der Deutschen (the drama of the Germans), written in two parts published decades apart, would stand as his most characteristic and famous artistic creation. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_234

Followers of the twentieth century esotericist Rudolf Steiner built a theatre named the Goetheanum after him—where festival performances of Faust are still performed. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_235

Goethe was also a cultural force. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_236

During his first meeting with Napoleon in 1808, the latter famously remarked: "Vous êtes un homme (You are a man)!" Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_237

The two discussed politics, the writings of Voltaire, and Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, which Napoleon had read seven times and ranked among his favorites. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_238

Goethe came away from the meeting deeply impressed with Napoleon's enlightened intellect and his efforts to build an alternative to the corrupt old regime. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_239

Goethe always spoke of Napoleon with the greatest respect, confessing that "nothing higher and more pleasing could have happened to me in all my life" than to have met Napoleon in person. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_240

Germaine de Staël, in De l'Allemagne (1813), presented German Classicism and Romanticism as a potential source of spiritual authority for Europe, and identified Goethe as a living classic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_241

She praised Goethe as possessing "the chief characteristics of the German genius" and uniting "all that distinguishes the German mind." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_242

Staël's portrayal helped elevate Goethe over his more famous German contemporaries and transformed him into a European cultural hero. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_243

Goethe met with her and her partner Benjamin Constant, with whom he shared a mutual admiration. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_244

In Victorian England, Goethe exerted a profound influence on George Eliot, whose partner George Henry Lewes wrote a Life of Goethe. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_245

Eliot presented Goethe as "eminently the man who helps us to rise to a lofty point of observation" and praised his "large tolerance", which "quietly follows the stream of fact and of life" without passing moral judgments. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_246

Matthew Arnold found in Goethe the "Physician of the Iron Age" and "the clearest, the largest, the most helpful thinker of modern times" with a "large, liberal view of life." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_247

It was to a considerable degree due to Goethe's reputation that the city of Weimar was chosen in 1919 as the venue for the national assembly, convened to draft a new constitution for what would become known as Germany's Weimar Republic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_248

Goethe became a key reference for Thomas Mann in his speeches and essays defending the republic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_249

He emphasized Goethe's "cultural and self-developing individualism", humanism, and cosmopolitanism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_250

The Federal Republic of Germany's cultural institution, the Goethe-Institut is named after him, and promotes the study of German abroad and fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_251

The literary estate of Goethe in the Goethe and Schiller Archives was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2001 in recognition of its historical significance. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_252

Goethe's influence was dramatic because he understood that there was a transition in European sensibilities, an increasing focus on sense, the indescribable, and the emotional. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_253

This is not to say that he was emotionalistic or excessive; on the contrary, he lauded personal restraint and felt that excess was a disease: "There is nothing worse than imagination without taste". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_254

Goethe praised Francis Bacon for his advocacy of science based on experiment and his forceful revolution in thought as one of the greatest strides forward in modern science. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_255

However, he was critical of Bacon's inductive method and approach based on pure classification. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_256

He said in Scientific Studies: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_257

Goethe's scientific and aesthetic ideas have much in common with Denis Diderot, whose work he translated and studied. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_258

Both Diderot and Goethe exhibited a repugnance towards the mathematical interpretation of nature; both perceived the universe as dynamic and in constant flux; both saw "art and science as compatible disciplines linked by common imaginative processes"; and both grasped "the unconscious impulses underlying mental creation in all forms." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_259

Goethe's Naturanschauer is in many ways a sequel to Diderot's interprète de la nature. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_260

His views make him, along with Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Ludwig van Beethoven, a figure in two worlds: on the one hand, devoted to the sense of taste, order, and finely crafted detail, which is the hallmark of the artistic sense of the Age of Reason and the neo-classical period of architecture; on the other, seeking a personal, intuitive, and personalized form of expression and society, firmly supporting the idea of self-regulating and organic systems. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_261

George Henry Lewes celebrated Goethe's revolutionary understanding of the organism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_262

Thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson would take up many similar ideas in the 1800s. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_263

Goethe's ideas on evolution would frame the question that Darwin and Wallace would approach within the scientific paradigm. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_264

The Serbian inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla was heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust, his favorite poem, and had actually memorized the entire text. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_265

It was while reciting a certain verse that he was struck with the epiphany that would lead to the idea of the rotating magnetic field and ultimately, alternating current. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe_sentence_266


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.