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Archive for February 5th, 2011

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
poet,playwright
One of the giants of world literature, who as critic,journalist,painter,theater manager,statesman, novelist,playwright, poet, scientist educationalist and natural philosopher was the last of the Renaissance men who strode into the German cultural life. His vast breadth of vision and vitality allowed him to contribute in various disciplines that took up his time.

Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Maine and studied law in Liepzeig and Strasbourg.His formative years coincided with ‘sturm and drang‘ movement in which his contribution was substantial. His ‘Götz von Berlichingen’(1773) a drama was followed in the following year by’ The sorrows of Young Werther’ a novel that took entire Europe by storm.’From 1775 till his death in 1832 he resided in Weimar. It is where he fell in love with Charlotte von Stein who inspired some of his finest lyrics and to whom he wrote some 1500 letters. She was one among many who inspired him but his classicism was evidently awakened by her. Direct contact with classic culture during his Italian sojourn of 1786 resulted in ‘Iphigenie auf Tauris’ (1787),Torquato Tasso(1790) and his poems ‘Römische Elegien’ (1793) His friendship and correspondence with Schiller who was not wholly sympathetic to the Romantic movement, however helped him to formulate his aesthetic theories. Schiller agreed with the receptivity of the Romantics to foreign literature an example of this we can see in his ‘West- östlicher Divan’(1819) where a fusion with Eastern culture is obvious. Throughout his life he retained his passion for philosophic and scientific studies on different fields including biology and botany He elaborated a theory of colors while creating some of his mature works.He wrote Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre(1821-29)and in 1832 finished the second part to his masterpiece Faust(1808).

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