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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: poet, thinker, slacker

Today everyone knows his works. Because Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a genius: he writes as much as hardly anyone else, and also works as a lawyer, minister and natural scientist. Even during his lifetime, Goethe was idolized for his lines

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Brief profile

  • Surname: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • nationality: German
  • birthday: August 28, 1749, in Frankfurt am Main
  • Date of death: March 22, 1832, in Weimar
  • Famous works: Götz von Berlichingen (1773), Iphigenie auf Tauris (1779), Torquato Tasso (1790), Faust (1808), elective affinities (1809)
  • Most famous quote: "You can also build something beautiful out of stones that are placed in your way."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an important poet and natural scientist. He is considered one of the most important creators of German-language poetry.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: A biography

Goethe, born on August 28, 1749 in Frankfurt am Main, is the offspring of a rich family. Instead of attending a normal school, several private tutors teach him Latin, Greek, history and fencing. He hardly has any friends. Because the boy speaks precociously; always and everywhere he wants to give orders.

When Goethe moved to Leipzig to study law and later to Strasbourg, it became clear, however, that there wasn't always a lot behind the big mouth: the show-off was plagued by a number of fears. Goethe can see no blood, no wound. He has to do something about it!

So Goethe takes anatomy courses and forces himself to look when corpses are cut open. Goethe climbs church towers to overcome his fear of heights. And at night he sneaks through cemeteries - until he no longer has to tremble in the dark.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his mid-twenties when he seriously begins to write. In a few weeks he will only write "The Sorrows of Young Werther", his first novel, which consists of letters from an unhappily in love man. This book is a sensation! It expresses exactly what young people all over Europe think and feel. Werther is literally becoming fashionable: some people suddenly dress like the fictional character wears yellow trousers, yellow waistcoat, blue overcoat, and the name Goethe is known all over the country.

The only 18-year-old Duke Karl August von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach also takes notice of Goethe. He brings the talented poet to court as his advisor! In Weimar Goethe experienced his wild years. He is always out and about with Karl August. They bathe naked in streams and ride through the district at night, sometimes wrapped in sheets: Let the simple-minded farmers believe in ghosts!

Goethe's escape to Italy

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is now a respected statesman. But he quickly gets tired of the annoying official duties in Weimar. With nothing but a garment bag and a satchel full of paper with him, he fled to Italy in the autumn of 1786. There he finally wants to write again.

The light, the landscapes, the sea, the old buildings and paintings - all of this overwhelms the traveler. When Goethe started his journey home to Weimar in April 1788, he had two completed plays in his luggage: "Iphigenia on Tauris" and "Egmont".

An unusual egoist

After his return, Goethe met perhaps the most important people of his life: Christiane Vulpius, who years later becomes his wife and mother to son August. He also met Friedrich Schiller, who initially found his fellow poet terrible. Friedrich Schiller says of Goethe: "I think he is an egoist to an unusual degree."

But the two soon become inseparable friends. Friedrich Schiller and Goethe give each other all new works to read. And together they later keep the Weimar Court Theater going. When Schiller dies in 1805, Goethe says he loses not only a companion, but "half of my own existence".

To distract himself, Goethe throws himself into work: In the play "Faust I."The main character - like Goethe himself - seeks happiness. In order to achieve it, Faust is even ready to sell his soul to the devil! The play was premiered in Braunschweig in 1829. Since then it has been performed thousands of times on Germany's stages High school student passes Goethe's "Faust" today.

The poet himself never experienced any of this. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe died on March 22, 1832 at the age of 82 in Weimar.