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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə]) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on... show more
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə]) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him are extant. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August in 1782 after first taking up residence there in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement. During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe served as 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. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar's botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace, which in 1998 were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After returning from a tour of Italy in 1788, his first major scientific work, the Metamorphosis of Plants, was published. 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. 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. His conversations and various common undertakings throughout the 1790s with Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Gottfried Herder, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and August and Friedrich Schlegel have, in later years, been collectively termed Weimar Classicism.

Arthur Schopenhauer cited Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship as one of the four greatest novels ever written, along with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Heloïse, and Don Quixote, and Ralph Waldo Emerson selected Goethe as one of six "representative men" in his work of the same name, along with Plato, Napoleon, and William Shakespeare. Goethe's comments and observations form the basis of several biographical works, most notably Johann Peter Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe. There are frequent references to Goethe's writings throughout the works of G. W. F. Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung. Goethe's poems were set to music throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by a number of composers, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Charles Gounod, Richard Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Felix Mendelssohn, and Gustav Mahler.
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Birth date: August 28, 1749
Died: March 22, 1832
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Community Reviews
Musings/Träumereien/Devaneios
Musings/Träumereien/Devaneios rated it 1 year ago
(original review, 2004)I’m planning on spending a few weeks on Goethe’s Faust in multiple translations and as much of the German as I can manage, supplemented by hundreds of pages of notes and commentary.I first read the book while in high school in the totally un-annotated Bayard Taylor translation...
Silvie's bookshelf
Silvie's bookshelf rated it 3 years ago
A masterpiece.
Opinions of Saturn
Opinions of Saturn rated it 3 years ago
Bayard Taylor’s translation of FAUST is one of the very few recommendable public domain translations of any classic, period. As a very successful poet back in his day, Taylor used his expertise to stay true to Goethe’s original without feeling overwrought or stilted in turn. According to the intro...
Tannat
Tannat rated it 4 years ago
I wanted to read this 18th century publishing phenomenon because of History Bites, a slightly crazy show that liked to imagine what history would have been like if television had been around. It did an episode on Goethe where a bunch of impressionable youths were dressing up in Werther’s blue coat a...
The Girl Who'll Read Anything
The Girl Who'll Read Anything rated it 4 years ago
"...for we own just not what we are born with, but also what we can acquire, and this is what we are."
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