Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(1749 – 1832)

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheBiographical Sketch

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Frankfurt, Germany, August 28, 1749 – Weimar, Germany, March 22, 1832) was a German writer, artist, and politician. 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, and more than 10,000 letters written by him are extant, as are nearly 3,000 drawings.

A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II at the initiative of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Carl August, after first taking up residence in Weimar in November of 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, named for a play by his childhood friend Friedrich Maximilian Klinger. 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 together were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After returning from a tour of Italy in 1788, Goethe published his first major work of a scientific nature, the Metamorphosis of Plants. In 1791 he was charged with managing 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 Friedrich 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 and Ralph Waldo Emerson selected Goethe, along with Plato, Napoleon, and William Shakespeare, as one of six “representative men” in his work of the same name. 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 various sayings and maxims throughout the course of Friedrich Nietzsche’s work and there are numerous allusions to Goethe in the novels of Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann. Goethe’s poems were set to music throughout the nineteenth century by a number of composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, and Gustav Mahler.

Read more about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on Wikipedia.

 

Bibliography

Novels and Verse Epics
  • Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774)
    (The Sorrows of Young Werther; The Sufferings of Young Werther)
  • Wilhelm Meisters theatralische Sendung (1785)
  • Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-1796)
    (Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship; Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years)
  • Hermann und Dorothea (1798)
    (Hermann and Dorothea)
  • Die Wahlverwandschaften (1809)
    (Elective Affinities)
  • Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (1821-1829)
    (Wilhelm Meister’s Travels)
Short Prose
  • Buch Annette (1768)
  • Brief des Pastors zu *** an den neuen Pastor zu *** (1773)
    (Letter from the Pastor in *** to the New Pastor in ***)
  • Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten (1794)
    (Conversations of German Refugees)
    – Collection of Novellas and Short Stories.
  • Das Märchen (1795)
    (A Fairy Tale)
  • Xenien (1796)
    – Epigrams; collaboration with Schiller.
  • Epilog zu Schillers Glocke (1805)
  • Eine Gespenstergeschichte
  • Novelle (1826)
    (Novella)
Plays and Librettos
  • Die Laune des Verliebten (1767)
    (The Lover’s Caprice; The Lover’s Whim)
  • Die Mitschuldigen (1768)
  • Götz von Berlichingen (1773)
    (Iron Hand; Goetz of Berlichingen with the Iron Hand)
  • Clavigo (1774)
    (Clavidgo)
  • Götter, Helden und Wieland (1774)
  • Urfaust (1775)
  • Erwin und Elmire (1775)
  • Claudine von Villa Bella (1775)
  • Lillis Park (1775)
  • Gedicht Auf dem See (1775)
  • Die Geschwister (1776)
  • Stella (1776)
  • Claudine von Villa Bella (1776)
  • Die Mitschuldigen (1777)
  • Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit (1778)
    A/K/A: Proserpina.
  • Das Jahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern (1778)
  • Die Vögel (1780)
    – Adapted from Aristophanes.
  • Jery und Bätely (1780)
  • Die Fischerin (1782)
  • Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787)
    (Iphigenia in Tauris)
  • Egmont (1787)
  • Torquato Tasso (1789)
  • Scherz, List und Rache (1790)
  • Der Gross-Cophta (1791)
  • Der Bürgergeneral (1793)
  • Mahomet (1799)
    – Adapted from Voltaire.
  • Paldophron und Neoterpe (1800)
  • Tancred (1801)
    – Adapted from Voltaire.
  • Die natürliche Tochter (1803)
  • Faust I (1806)
    (Faustus; Faust)
  • Pandora (1810)
  • Romeo und Juliet (1812)
    – Adapted from Shakespeare.
  • Des Epimenides Erwachen (1815)
  • Faust II (1831)
  • Satyros oder Der vergötterte Waldteufel
Ballads and Lyrical Poetry
  • Oden an meinen Freund (Behrisch) (1768)
  • Sesenheimer Lieder (1770)
    Neue Lieder mit Melodien.
  • Das Heideröslein (1771)
    (Heather Rose)
  • Willkommen und Abschied (1771)
    (Welcome and Departure)
  • Wanderers Sturmlied (1772)
  • Pilgers Morgenlied (1773)
  • Elysium (1773)
  • Felsweihgesang (1773)
  • Mahomets Gesang (1773)
  • Prometheus (1774)
  • Ganymed (1774)
  • An Schwager Kronos (1774)
  • An Belinden (1774)
  • Der König in Thule (1775)
    (The King of Thule)
  • Wonne der Wehmut (1775)
    (The Joy of Sadness)
  • Der untreue Knabe (1775)
  • Warum gabst du uns die tiefen Blicke (1776)
    – To Charlotte vom Stein.
  • Wanderers Nachtlied (1776)
    A/K/A: Ein Gleiches.
  • Das Veilchen (1776)
    (The Violet)
  • Rastlose Liebe (1776)
  • Harzreise im Winter (1777)
  • An den Mond (1777)
  • Grenzen der Menschheit (1781)
  • Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (1781)
  • Das Göttliche (1784)
  • Die Zueignung (1884)
  • Der Erlkönig (1782)
    (Erl-King)
  • Vermischte Gedichte (1789)
    – Collection of poetry; contains inter alia:

    • Auf dem See
    • Mahomets Gesang
    • Mit einem gemalten Band
    • Neue Liebe Neues Leben
  • Scholia in carmina Priapea (1790)
    – In Latin.
  • Römische Elegien (1790)
    (Roman Elegies)
    – Collection of poetry.
  • Venetianische Epigramme (1791)
    – Collection of short poetry.
  • Reineke Fuchs (1793)
    (Reynard the Fox)
  • Mignon (1795)
    A/K/A: Kennst Du das Land?
  • Nähe des Geliebten (1795)
  • Der Zauberlehrling (1797)
    (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
  • Die Braut von Korinth (1797)
  • Der Gott und die Bajadere (1797)
  • Der Fischer (1799)
    (The Fisherman)
  • Sonette (1807-1808)
    (Sonnets)
  • Der Totentanz (1813)
  • Die wandelnde Glocke (1813)
  • Gefunden (1815)
  • Um Mitternacht (1818)
  • Der West-östliche Divan (1819)
    (West-Easterly Divan; Divan of West and East)
    – Collection of poetry.
  • Eins und alles (1821)
  • Marienbader Elegie (1823)
    A/K/A: The Marienbad Elegy.
  • Vermächtnis (1829)
Travelogues, Memoirs, Essays, Addresses, Scientific Publications
  • Positiones iuris (1771)
    – In Latin.
  • Zum Schäkespears Tag (1771)
    (On Shakespeare’s Day)
  • Briefe aus der Schweiz (1779)
  • Über den Zwischenkiefer (1784-1831)
  • Beiträge zur Optik (1790)
  • Versuch die Metamorphose der Pflanzen zu erklären (1790)
    (Goethe’s Botany; Attempt to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants)
  • Metamorphose der Tiere (1790)
    (Metamorphosis of Animals)
  • Winkelmann und sein Jahrhundert (1804)
  • Zur Farbenlehre (1810)
    (Goethe’s Theory of Colors)
  • Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (1811-1814; 1833)
    (Poetry and Truth; Memoirs of Goethe, Written by Himself; The Autobiography of Goethe: Truth and Poetry; From My Life)
  • Die Italienische Reise (1817)
    (Italian Journey; Travels in Italy)
  • Campagne in Frankreich (1822)
  • Tag- und Jahreshefte (1830) Annals
  • Gespräche mit Goethe, by Johann Peter Eckermann, (1836)
    (Conversations with Goethe; Conversations of Goethe with Johann Peter Eckermann)
  • Correspondence between Goethe and Thomas Carlyle (1887)
  • Die Schriften zur Naturwissenschaft (1947)
  • Amtliche Schriften (1950 – 1972)
  • Briefe (1962 – 1969)
  • Gespräche (1965 – 1972)
  • Goethe on Art (1980)
  • Schriften zur Biologie (1982)
  • Briefe aus Italien 1786 bis 1788 (1985)
  • Goethe’s Botanical Writings (1989)
  • Correspondence between Goethe and Schiller, 1794 – 1805 (1994)
  • Goethe on Science: A Selection (1996)
  • Maxims and Reflections (1998)
Complete Works
  • Werke, vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand in vierzig Bänden (1827)
  • Nachgelassene Werke (1832 – 1842)
  • Werke (1887 – 1919)
  • Werke (1948 – 1964)
  • Gedenkausgabe der Werke, Briefe und Gespräche (1948 – 1971)
  • Sämtliche Werke (from 1986)
  • Collected Works (1983 – 1989)
Online editions of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s works:

 

A Selection of Quotes

Faust

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

“If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile … so fair thou art.”

“Wir sind gewohnt, daß die Menschen verhöhnen,
Was sie nicht verstehn.”

The Sorrows of Young Werther

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”

Elective Affinities

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverably for ourselves and for others.”

Italian Journey

“Nothing can be compared to the new life that the discovery of another country provides for a thoughtful person. Although I am still the same I believe to have changed to the bones.”

Maxims and Reflections

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

Poetry

“Sah ein Knab’ ein Röslein stehn,
Röslein auf der Heiden,
war so jung und morgenschön,
lief er schnell, es nah zu sehn,
sah’s mit vielen Freuden.
Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot,
Röslein auf der Heiden.

Knabe sprach: “Ich breche dich,
Röslein auf der Heiden!”
Röslein sprach: “Ich steche dich,
dass du ewig denkst an mich,
und ich will’s nicht leiden.”
Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot,
Röslein auf der Heiden.

Und der wilde Knabe brach’s
Röslein auf der Heiden
Röslein wehrte sich und stach,
half ihm doch kein Weh und Ach,
musst’ es eben leiden.
Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot,
Röslein auf der Heiden.”

Collected Works

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Find more quotes by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on Wikiquote and Goodreads.

 

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