Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by Edward Dowden (1843–1913)
JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main on August 28th, 1749, and died at Weimar on March 22d, 1832. His great life, extending over upwards of fourscore years, makes him a man of the eighteenth century and also of the nineteenth. He belongs not only to German but to European literature. And in the history of European literature his position is that of successor to Voltaire and Rousseau. Humanity, as Voltaire said, had lost its title-deeds, and the task of the eighteenth century was to recover them. Under all Voltaire’s zeal for destruction in matters of religious belief lay a positive faith and a creative sentiment,—a faith in human intellect and the sentiment of social justice. What indefatigable toil! what indefatigable play! Surely it was not all to establish a negation. Voltaire poured a gay yet bitter élan into the intellectual movement of his time. Yet amid his various efforts for humanity he wanted love; he wanted reverence. And although a positive tendency underlies his achievements, we are warranted in repeating the common sentence, that upon the whole he destroyed more than he built up.  1
  Voltaire fought to enfranchise the understanding. Rousseau dreamed, brooded, suffered, to emancipate the heart. A wave of passion, or at least of sentiment, swept over Europe with the ‘Nouvelle Héloïse,’ the ‘Émile,’ the ‘Confessions.’ It was Rousseau, exclaims Byron, who “threw enchantment over passion,” who “knew how to make madness beautiful.” Such an emancipation of the heart was felt, in the eighteenth century, to be a blessed deliverance from the material interests and the eager yet too arid speculation of the age. But Byron in that same passage of ‘Childe Harold’ names Rousseau “the self-torturing sophist.” And a sophist Rousseau was. His intellect fed upon fictions, and dangerous fictions,—fictions respecting nature, respecting the individual man, respecting human society. Therefore his intellect failed to illuminate, clarify, tranquilize his heart. His emotions were turbid, restless, and lacking in sanity.  2
  Here then were Goethe’s two great predecessors: one a most vivacious intelligence, the other a brooding sensibility; one aiming at an emancipation of the understanding, but deficient in reverence and in love; the other aiming at an emancipation of the affections, but deficient in sanity of thought. In what relation stood Goethe to these great forces of the eighteenth century?  3
  In his old age Goethe, speaking of Voltaire, uses the words “a universal source of light.” But as a young man he was repelled by “the factious dishonesty of Voltaire, and his perversion of so many worthy subjects.” “He would never have done,” says Goethe, “with degrading religion and the sacred books, for the sake of injuring priestcraft, as they called it.” Goethe, indeed, did not deny a use to the spirit of negation. Mephistopheles lives and works. Yet he lives and works as the unwilling servant of the Lord, and the service he renders is to provoke men from indolence to activity.  4
  Into the influence of Rousseau, on the contrary, and into the general movement of feeling to which Rousseau belonged, Goethe in his youth was caught, almost inevitably; and he abandoned himself to it for a time, it might seem without restraint.  5
  Yet Goethe differed from Rousseau as profoundly as he differed from Voltaire. Rousseau’s undisciplined sensibility, morbidly excited by the harshness or imagined harshness of his fellows, by bodily torment, by broodings in solitude, became at last one quivering mass of disease. “No tragedy had ever a fifth act so squalid.” What a contrast to the closing scenes of Goethe’s life in that house of his, like a modest temple of the Muses, listening to Plutarch read aloud by his daughter-in-law, or serenely active, “ohne Hast aber ohne Rast” (without haste, but without rest), in widening his sympathies with men or enlarging his knowledge of nature.  6
  How was this? Why did the ways part so widely for Rousseau and for Goethe?  7
  The young creator of ‘Werther’ may seem to have started on his career as a German Rousseau. In reality, ‘Werther’ expressed only a fragment of Goethe’s total self. A reserve force of will and an intellect growing daily in clearness and in energy would not permit him to end as Rousseau ended. In ‘Götz von Berlichingen’ there goes up a cry for freedom; it presents the more masculine side of that spirit of revolt from the bonds of the eighteenth century, that “return to nature,” which is presented in its more feminine aspects by ‘Werther.’ But by degrees it became evident to Goethe that the only true ideal of freedom is a liberation not of the passions, not of the intellect, but of the whole man; that this involves a conciliation of all the powers and faculties within us; and that such a conciliation can be effected only by degrees, and by steadfast toil.  8
  And so we find him willing during ten years at Weimar to undertake work which might appear to be fatal to the development of his genius. To reform army administration, make good roads, work the mines with energetic intelligence, restore the finances to order,—was this fit employment for one born to be a poet? Except a few lyrics and the prose ‘Iphigenie,’ these years produced no literary work of importance; yet Goethe himself speaks of them as his “zweite Schriftstellerepoche.”—his second epoch as a writer. They were needful to make him a master in the art of life, needful to put him into possession of all his powers. Men of genius are quick growers; but men of the highest genius, which includes the wisdom of human life, are not speedily ripe. Goethe had entered literature early; he had stormed the avenues. Now at six-and-twenty he was a chief figure in German, even in European, literature; and from twenty-six to thirty-seven he published, we may say nothing. But though he ceased to astonish the world, he was well employed in widening the basis of his existence; in organizing his faculties; in conciliating passions, intellect, and will; in applying his mind to the real world; in endeavoring to comprehend it aright; in testing and training his powers by practical activity.  9
  A time came when he felt that his will and skill were mature; that he was no longer an apprentice in the art of living, but a master craftsman. Tasks that had grown irksome and were felt to be a distraction from higher duties, he now abandoned. Goethe fled for a time to Italy, there to receive his degree in the high school of life, and to start upon a course of more advanced studies. Thenceforward until his closing days the record is one of almost uninterrupted labor in his proper fields of literature, art, and science. “In Rome,” he wrote, “I have for the first time found myself, for the first time come into harmony with myself, and grown happy and rational.” He had found himself, because his passions and his intellect now co-operated; his pursuit of truth had all the ardor of a first love; his pursuit of beauty was not a fantastic chase, but was subject to rational law; and his effort after truth and his effort after beauty were alike supported by an adult will.  10
  His task, regarded as a whole, was to do over again the work of the Renascence. But whereas the Renascence had been a large national or European movement, advancing towards its ends partly through popular passions and a new enthusiasm, the work which Goethe accomplished was more an affair of intelligence, criticism, conscious self-direction. It was less of a flood sweeping away old dikes and dams, and more of a dawn quietly and gradually drawing back the borders of darkness and widening the skirts of light. A completely developed human being, for the uses of the world,—this was the ideal in which Goethe’s thoughts centered, and towards which his most important writings constantly tend. A completely developed State or commonwealth should follow, as an ideal arising out of the needs and demands of a complete individual. Goethe knew that growth comes not by self-observation and self-analysis, but by exercise. Therefore he turned himself and would turn his disciples to action, to the objective world; and in order that this action may be profitable, it must be definite and within a limited sphere. He preaches self-renunciation; but the self-renunciation he commends is not self-mortification; it is the active self-abandonment of devotion to our appropriate work. Such is the teaching of ‘Wilhelm Meister’: it traces the progress of a youth far from extraordinary, yet having within him the capacity for growth, progress through a thousand errors and illusions, from splendid dreams to modest reality. Life is discovered by Wilhelm to be a difficult piece of scholarship. The cry for freedom in ‘Götz,’ the limitless sigh of passion heard in ‘Werther,’ are heard no more. If freedom is to be attained, it can only be through obedience; if we are to “return to nature,” it cannot be in Rousseau’s way but through a wise art of living, an art not at odds with nature, but its complement:—
  “This is an art which does mend nature—but
The art itself is nature.”
  If we ask,—for this, after all, is the capital question of criticism,—What has Goethe done to make us better? the answer is: He has made each of us aspire and endeavor to be no fragment of manhood, but a man; he has taught us that to squander ourselves in vain desires is the road to spiritual poverty; that to discover our appropriate work, and to embody our passion in such work, is the way to true wealth; that such passion and such toil must be not servile, but glad and free; that the use of our intelligence is not chiefly to destroy, but to guide our activity in construction; and that in doing our best work we incorporate ourselves in the best possible way in the life of our fellows. Such lessons may seem obvious; but they had not been taught by Goethe’s great predecessors, Voltaire and Rousseau. Goethe, unlike Voltaire, inculcates reverence and love; unlike Rousseau, he teaches us to see objects clearly as they are, he trains us to sanity. And Europe needed sanity in the days of Revolution and in the days which followed of Reaction.  12
  Sanity for the imagination Goethe found in classical art. The young leader of the Romantic revival in Germany resigned his leadership; he seemed to his contemporaries to have lost the fire and impulse of his youth; his work was found cold and formal. A great change had indeed taken place within him; but his ardor had only grown steadier and stronger, extending now to every part of his complex nature. The change was a transition from what is merely inward and personal to what is outward and general. Goethe cared less than formerly to fling out his private passions, and cared more to comprehend the world and human life and to interpret these through art. He did not go into bondage under the authority of the ancients; but he found their methods right, and he endeavored to work as they had worked. For a time the reaction carried him too far: in seeking for what is general, he sometimes passed on to what is abstract, and so was forced into the error of offering symbols to represent these abstractions, instead of bodying forth his ideas in imaginative creations. But in the noble drama of ‘Iphigenie,’ in the epic-idyll of ‘Hermann und Dorothea,’ and in many of the ballads written during his period of close companionship with Schiller, we have examples of art at once modern in sentiment and classical in method.  13
  Goethe’s faith in the methods of classical art never passed away, but his narrow exclusiveness yielded. He became, with certain guiding principles which served as a control, a great eclectic, appropriating to his own uses whatever he perceived to be excellent. As in ‘Hermann und Dorothea’ he unites the influences of Greek art with true German feeling, so in his collection of short lyrics, the ‘West-Östlicher Divan’ (West-Eastern Divan), he brings together the genius of the Orient and that of the Western world, and sheds over both the spiritual illumination of the wisdom of his elder years. Gradually his creative powers waned, but he was still interested in all—except perhaps politics—that can concern the mind; he was still the greatest of critics, entering with his intelligence into everything and understanding everything, as nearly universal in his sympathies as a human mind can be. The Goethe of these elder years is seen to most advantage in the ‘Conversations with Eckermann.’  14
  The most invulnerable of Goethe’s writings are his lyrical poems; against the best of these, criticism can allege nothing. They need no interpreter. But the reader who studies them in chronological order will observe that as time went on, the lyric which is a spontaneous jet of feeling is replaced by the lyric in which there is constructive art and considerate evolution. In the poems of the ‘West-Östlicher Divan’ Goethe returns to the lyric of spontaneity, but their inspiration is rather that of a gracious wisdom, at once serious and playful, than of passion.  15
  His period of romance and sentiment is best represented by ‘The Sorrows of Werther.’ His adult wisdom of life is found most abundantly in ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.’ The world has long since agreed that if Goethe is to be represented by a single work, it shall be by ‘Faust.’ And even those who perceive that ‘Faust’ is best understood by being taken along with Goethe’s other writings—his early ‘Prometheus,’ his autobiography, his travels in Italy, his classical dramas, his scientific studies, his work as a critic, his vast correspondence, his conversations in old age—cannot quarrel with the judgment of the world.  16
  ‘Faust,’ if we include under that name the First and the Second Parts, is the work of Goethe’s whole life. Begun and even far advanced in early manhood, it was taken up again in his midmost years, and was completed with a faltering hand in the closing season of his old age. What it loses in unity, or at least in harmonious development as a piece of art, it gains in autobiographical interest. All his works, Goethe said, constituted a great confession. More than any other of his writings, ‘Faust’ is the confession of his life.  17
  There are two ways in which a reader may deal with ‘Faust.’ He may choose for his own delight a fragment, detach it and disregard the rest; he may view this fragment, if he pleases, as a whole, as a rounded work of art. Such a reader will refuse to pass beyond the First Part of the vast encyclopædic poem. To do this is legitimate. The earliest form in which we possess the drama, that of the transcript made by Fräulein von Göchhausen, is a tragedy which might be named ‘The Tragedy of Margaret.’ Possibilities of further development lay in the subject, were indeed required by the subject, and Goethe had probably already conceived certain of them; yet the stadium in the progress of Faust’s history included in ‘The Tragedy of Margaret’ had a unity in itself. But a reader may approach ‘Faust’ otherwise; he may view it as expressing the complete mind of Goethe on some of the deepest problems of human life. Viewing it thus, he must accept the whole work as Goethe has given it; he must hold in abeyance, at least for a time, his own particular likings and dislikes. While keeping his mind open to all the poetry of Faust, he will soon discover that here is something more than a poem. It may be unfortunate for the work of art that it belongs, certainly in its execution, possibly even in the growth of its conception, to far sundered periods of its author’s career, when his feelings respecting art were different, when his capacity for rendering his ideas was now more and now less adequate. Such a reader, however, would part with nothing: in what is admirable he finds the master’s hand; in what is feeble he discovers the same hand, but faltering, and pathetic in its infirmity. He is interested in ‘Faust’ not solely or chiefly as ‘The Tragedy of Margaret’: he finds in it the intellect, the character, the life of Goethe; it is a repository of the deepest thoughts and feelings concerning human existence of a wise seer, a repository in which he laid by those thoughts and feelings during sixty years of his mortal wayfaring.  18
  From early manhood to extreme old age ‘Faust’ was with Goethe, receiving now and again, in Frankfort, in Weimar, in Rome, some new accession. We can distinguish the strata or formations of youth, of manhood, and of the closing years. We recognize by their diversities of style those parts which were written when creation was swift and almost involuntary, a passion and a joy, and those parts through which Goethe labored at an old man’s pace, accomplishing to-day a hand’s-breadth, to-morrow perhaps less, and binding blank pages into his manuscript, that the sight of the gaps might irritate him to produce. What unity can such a work possess, except that which comes from the fact that it all proceeded from a single mind, and that some main threads of thought—for it would be rash to speak of a ground idea—run through the several parts and bind them together? ‘Faust’ has not the unity of a lake whose circuit the eye can contemplate, a crystal set among the hills. Its unity is that of a river, rising far away in mountain solitudes, winding below many a mirrored cliff, passing the habitations of men, temple and mart, fields of rural toil and fields of war, reaching it may be dull levels, and forgetting the bright speed it had, until at last the dash of waves is heard, and its course is accomplished; but from first to last one stream, proceeding from a single source. Tourists may pick out a picturesque fragment of its wanderings, and this is well; but perhaps it is better to find the poetry of its entire career, from its cloudy cradle to the flats where it loses itself in the ocean.  19
  The first part of ‘Faust’ is itself the work of more periods than one. The original conception may belong to Goethe’s student days at Strassburg. He had grown weary of the four Faculties,—alas, even of theology; he had known a maiden as fair and sweet and simple as Gretchen, and he had left her widowed of her first love; and there in Strassburg was the presence of that old Cathedral, which inspired so terrible a scene in the ‘Faust.’ From Strassburg he returned to Frankfort, and no moments of his career of authorship were more fruitful than these which preceded the first Weimar years. It was in the heart of the Storm and Stress; it was the time of ‘Götz’ and ‘Mahomet’ and the ‘Wandering Jew’ and ‘Werther’ and ‘Prometheus.’ Here in Faust was another and a nobler Werther seeking the infinite; here was another Prometheus, a Titan shackled yet unsubduable. By Goethe’s twenty-sixth year the chief portions of the ‘Faust, a Fragment,’ published when he was forty-one, had been written. But two scenes were added in Rome,—one of these strange in its fantasy, the Witches’ Kitchen,—as if to show that the poet of the North was not quite enslaved by the beauty of classic art. It was in the last decade of the eighteenth century that Schiller succeeded in persuading Goethe to open his Faust papers, and try to recover the threads of his design. Not until 1808, Goethe’s fifty-ninth year, was the First Part published as we now possess it. It is therefore incorrect to speak of this Part as the work of the author’s youth; even here a series of strata belonging to different periods can be distinguished, and critics have contended that even in this Part may be discovered two schemes or plans not wholly in harmony each with the other.  20
  The first Fragment was written, as has been said, in the spirit of the Storm and Stress. Goethe was weary of the four Faculties. The magic work of the time which was to restore vigor and joy to men was Nature. This is the theme of the opening scene of ‘Faust.’ Among old instruments and dusty folios and ancestral lumber and brute skeletons, away from Nature and her living founts of inspiration, the old scholar has found neither joy nor true knowledge. He opens the book of Nostradamus and gazes upon the sign of the Macrocosm; here in a symbol he beholds the life and energy of nature:—
  “Where shall I grasp thee, infinite Nature, where?
Ye breasts, ye fountains of all life whereon
Hang heaven and earth.”
He cannot grasp them; and then turning from the great Cosmos, he thinks he may at least dare to invoke the spirit of our own mother planet Earth. But to Faust, with eyes bleared with the dust of the study, to Faust, living in his own speculations or in dogmatic systems, the aspect of the Earth Spirit—a living fire—is terrible. He falls back upon himself almost despairing, when the famulus Wagner enters. What Werner was to the idealist Wilhelm Meister, Wagner is to the idealist Faust: the mere scraping together of a little hoard of barren facts contents Wagner; such grief, such despair as Faust’s, are for this Philistine of learning impossible. And then the fragment of 1790 passes on to Mephistopheles. Whether or not Goethe found the features of his critical demon in Herder (as Grimm supposes), and afterwards united these to the more pronounced likeness in his friend Mephistopheles Merck, matters little. Whether Herder and Merck had been present or not, Goethe would have found Mephistopheles in his own heart. For the contrast between the idealist Faust and the realist Mephistopheles exists in some form or other in almost every great creation of Goethe. It is the contrast between Werther and Albert, between Tasso and Antonio, between Edward and the Captain. Sometimes the nobler spirit of worldliness is dwelt on, as in the case of Antonio; sometimes the cold, hard, cynical side, as in the case of Mephistopheles. The theme of Faust as originally conceived was the turning of an idealist from his own private thoughts and dreams to the real world; from all that is unnatural,—systems, speculations, barren knowledge,—to nature and the founts of life; from the solitary cell to the company of men; to action, beauty, life, and love. If he can really succeed in achieving this wisely and well, Faust is saved. He is delivered from solitude, the inane of speculation, the vagueness of idealism, and made one with the band of his toiling fellows. But to accompany him there is the spirit of base worldliness, the realist, the cynic, who sees the meaner side of all that is actual, who if possible will seduce Faust into accepting the world apart from that elevating spirit which ennobles actual life, who will try to baffle and degrade Faust by degrading all that he now seeks,—action and beauty and life and love.
  It is Goethe himself who is at odds with himself,—the realist Goethe set over against the idealist Goethe; and Mephistopheles is the base realist, the cynic whose endeavor is to mar the union of high poetry and high prose in human life, which union of high poetry with high prose Goethe always looked upon as the true condition of man’s activity. In the Prologue in Heaven, written when Schiller had persuaded Goethe to take up the threads of his play, the Lord speaks of Faust as his servant. Mephistopheles wagers that he will seduce Faust from his allegiance to the Highest. The Lord does not wager; he knows:
  “Though now he serve me in a maze of doubt,
  Yet I will lead him soon where all is clear;
The gardener knows, when first the bushes sprout,
  That bloom and fruit will deck the riper year.”
  These vague passionate longings of Faust after truth and reality and life and love are not evil; they are good: they are as yet indeed but the sprouting of the immature leaf and bud, but the Lord sees in these the fruit that is to be. Therefore let Mephistopheles, the spirit of negation, try his worst, and at the last discover how an earnest striver’s ways are justified by God. Faust may wander, err, fall, grievously offend,—“as long as man lives, man errs;” but for him who ever strives upward, through all his errors, there is redemption in the end.  23
  The poem belongs to its epoch. Faust is the idealist, Mephistopheles is the realist, of the eighteenth century. Faust aspires to nature and freedom like one who had drunk deeply of Rousseau. Mephistopheles speaks like a degraded disciple of Voltaire, who has lost his master’s positive faith in the human reason. Goethe can accept as his own neither the position of Voltaire nor that of Rousseau; but actually he started in life as an antagonist of Voltaire and a disciple of Rousseau, and in like manner his Faust starts on his career as one who longs for a “return to nature.” While from merely negative criticism nothing virtuous can be born, the vague longings of one who loves and hopes promise measureless good.  24
  Faust’s vast aspirations, then, are not sinful; they only need to be limited and directed to suitable ends. It is as God’s servant that he goes forth with the Demon from his study to the world. And Mephistopheles’s first attempt to degrade Faust is a failure. In the orgy of Auerbach’s cellar, while the boisterous young bloods clash their glasses, the old scholar sits silent, isolated, ashamed. It is only by infecting his blood with the witch’s poison that Mephistopheles can lay hold of the spirit of Faust even for a time; and had he not seen in the mirror that vision of Helena, whom he rightly loves, and whom indeed he needs, he could not have put to his lips the filthy brewage of the witch. But now indeed he is snared; the poison rages in his veins; for one hour he is transformed into what the world basely calls a man of pleasure. Yet Faust is not wholly lost: his better self, the untrained, untamed idealist, begins to reassert its power; the fumes of the poison dissipate themselves. Guilty though he be, his love of Margaret is not what Mephistopheles requires that it should be: it is not calculating, egoistic, cynical, nor dull, easeful, and lethargic. It is not the crime of an experienced worldling nor of a dull, low liver: it is the crime of one whose unwise heart and untaught imagination delude him; and therefore though his fall be deep, it is not fatal. The wrong he has wrought may be blind and terrible as that of Othello to Desdemona; but it is not the serpentine stinging of an Iago or a Mephistopheles.  25
  So through anguish and remorse Faust is doing off the swathe-bands of delusion, learning to master his will, learning his own heart, learning the meaning of existence: he does not part from his ideal self, his high aspirations, his ardent hopes; he is rather transforming these into realities; he is advancing from dreams to facts, so that in the end, when his life becomes a lofty prose, it may be interpenetrated by a noble poetry.  26
  It were long to trace the history of Faust through the ever purifying and ascending scale of energies exhibited in the Second Part of the drama. Affairs of State, science, art, war—all that Goethe had known by experience—appear in this encyclopædic poem. One word, however, must be said respecting the ‘Helena.’ It is a mistake to view this central portion of the Second Part as solely or chiefly an allegory of the wedlock of classic and romantic art. As science is shown to form a needful part of Faust’s turning from the inane of metaphysics to the positive world, so from the Greek spirit he learns sanity and strength; the deliverance of the ideal man in Faust is aided by the beauty and the healthfulness of classic art. Through beauty, as Schiller tried to show in his letters on ‘Æsthetic Culture,’ we attain to freedom. Faust is not an artist, but a man; Helena is but one of the spirits whose influence is needed to make him real and elevated. It is she who qualifies him for achieving practical work in a high, ideal spirit.  27
  The Fourth Act of the Second Part is wholly concerned with practical work. What is this which engages the student of the metaphysic cell, who had gone through the four Faculties, and is now once again grown old? What is this? Only well-defined and useful activity. He has rescued some acres of arable land from the rage of the barren sea.  28
  But Faust is not yet wholly delivered from evil; his activity is useful, indeed, but it lacks the finer grace of charity. He commissions Mephistopheles to destroy the cottage of old Philemon and Baucis, which stands in the way of his territorial improvements. It is the last crime of the unregenerate will. The four gray women—Care and Blame and Want and Crime—now assail him; but there is virtue in him to the last. However it may be with himself, grant only that ages hence the children of men, free and happy, may dwell upon the soil which he has saved for their place of labor and of love,—grant but this, and even in the anticipation of it he is made possessor of the highest bliss. Nor indeed is higher permitted to man on earth. And now that Faust has at last found satisfaction, and said to the passing moment, “Stay, thou art so fair,” the time has come for Mephistopheles to claim his soul. But in this very aspiration after the perfect joy of others—not his own—Faust is forever delivered from the Evil One. The gray old man lies stretched upon the sand. Higher powers than those of his own will take him, guard him, lead him forward. The messengers of God bear away his immortal part. All Holy Hermits, all Holy Innocents, all Holy Virgins, the less and the greater Angels, and redeemed women who have sinned and sorrowed and have been purified, aid in his ultimate purification. It is the same thought which was interpreted in a lower key when Wilhelm Meister’s fate was intrusted to Natalia. Usefulness is good; activity is good: but over all these should soar and brood the Divine graces of life, and love the chief of these. That which leads us farther than all the rest is what Goethe names “the imperishable womanly grace,” that of love. And so the great mystery-play reaches its close.  29
  BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, August 28th, 1749; he attended the University of Leipzig 1765–1768, and went to Strassburg in 1770, where he met Herder, made the acquaintance of Shakespeare, and in 1771 took his degree. ‘Götz von Berlichingen’ in 1773 announced the dawn of a new era in German letters, and in 1774 ‘The Sorrows of Werther’ made the poet world-famous. In 1775 Goethe accepted the invitation of Duke Carl August and went to Weimar, which remained thenceforth his home. The Italian journey, marking an epoch in the poet’s life, took place in 1786–1787. The ‘Faust Fragment’ appeared in 1790. The friendship with Schiller, also of far-reaching importance in Goethe’s life, began in 1794 and was terminated only by Schiller’s death in 1805. ‘Hermann and Dorothea’ was published in 1797. In 1806 Goethe married Christiane Vulpius. The First Part of ‘Faust’ appeared in 1808;—in 1816 the poet is at work upon his ‘Autobiography’ and the ‘Italian Journey’; the first part of ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship’ appeared in 1821, and was completed in 1829. ‘Faust’ was finished on July 20th, 1831. Goethe died at Weimar on March 22d, 1832.  30

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.