Jump to content

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Frae Wikipedia, the free beuk o knawledge
Goethe in a 1828 pentin bi Josef Stieler.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749 – Mairch 22, 1832) wis a German writer, poet, novelist, an playwricht. He wirked as an actor, administrator, scientist, geologist, botanist an philosopher an aw. He influenced mony 19t century writers an thinkers. His conteibutions tae science include his wirk in botany an his Theory o Colours. Famous lines frae his beuks is aften quotit, an some o his phrases hae acome pairt o the German leid. His poems wis set tae muisic bi componers lik Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, an Strauss. Critics an scholars say his poems is anly guid in German, acause that is the leid he wrote them in. His plays isna aften performed ootwi Germany, an maist o his scienteefic wirk nou seems auld-farrant.

Early life

[eedit | eedit soorce]

Goethe wis born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His faither wis weel-eddicatit an vera strict. His mither wis anly echteen whan he wis born. Whan Goethe wis a young lad, he began tae write stories an plays for his freins. In his youth, he learnt Greek, Latin an French. He studied law in Leipzig frae 1765 tae 1768. He an aa wrote some letters that are seen as beautiful, an that showed his promise as a writer. He continued his studies in Strasbourg frae 1770 tae 1771. He jynt ither young men wha wantit tae chynge the wey that Germans wis writin. He thocht that fowk lik Johann Christoph Gottsched wis ower strict anent writin poetry. Instead o the ideas o the Enlightenment, he wantit poets tae be creative an mak thair ain rules.

Ae man wha haed mony new ideas wis a poet named Johann Gottfried Herder. Herder liked the plays o Shakespeare (whilk he haed learned in German) as weel as fowk poetry. Thir ideas wis excitin for Goethe, an he helpit Herder tae collect fowk poetry. Baith men believed that poetry shoud aye come frae the hert, an that it shoud be based on the poet’s experiences insteid an auld-farrant idea o whit a guid poem shoud be. Some o Goethe's best-kent poems wis written in this time, lik Heidenröslein, Der König in Thule, an Erlkönig.

Goethe fell in luve wi several weemen durin his lifetime. Durin the early period o his life, he wis in luve wi a girl named Friederike Brion, the dochter o a pastor. Several o his poems are inspired bi her. He felt extremely sad when thay split up. The feelin o desertion bi a luver is a lot o Goethe’s wirks. Thay are aw based on his ain experience. His disappointment in luve inspired him when writin aboot Werther in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers an Gretchen in his great play Faust. His poems an aa shaw his ideas aboot science an filosofie.

Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sufferings o Young Werther) is a beuk written in the form o letters. Werther is a young man wha faws passionately in luve wi a lass cried Lotte wha is merrit wi anither buddy. Werther kills himself in the end. The beuk wis very successfu aw ower Europe. Fowk talkit aboot “Werther fever.” Mony young men wha wis disappoint in luve copied Werther an killt thairsels.

Goethe’s maist famous wirk is a vera lang play cried Faust. He spent maist o his life wirkin at it. He wis writin the first version o Faust at this time. Based on a legendary chairacter, it tells o a man cried Faust wha is tired o studyin an wants tae hae the greatest possible happiness. The deil (cried Mephistopheles in the play) tells Faust he can help him tae dae this, but that in the end Faust maun gie him his soul an gang wi him tae hell. Faust uises magic in the howp that it will tell him awthing aboot life.

Alang wi writin, Goethe wis developin a career in law. In 1772, he spent fower month in Wetzlar at the Imperial Law Courts. Here he made new friends, includin a young lass wha wis awready engaged tae anither buddy.

Middle Period: Arrival in Weimar til death o Schiller (1775-1805)

[eedit | eedit soorce]

Goethe haed been weel-eddicate an wis guid at organizin an gettin on wi important fowk. For aliven year, he wirked at the court o Weimar for a young Duke cRIed Karl August. He became a memmer an later the preses o the Duke’s cabinet. He haed tae organize road-buildin projects, an leuk efter pairks an building. He studied geologie, mineralogie, botany an anatomy. He fell in luve wi a woman cried Charlotte von Stein wha wis mairit an haed several bairns. He wrote luve letters tae her, an she inspired him tae write mony poems. At this time, he felt that a man’s task in life wis tae be uisefu. The heroes o his beuks at this time wis aften ordinary fowk insteid o geniuses.

Efter a time, he realised that aw his wirk on governmental duties wisna gien him time for his writin, sae he gaed tae Italy for 18 month. He luved the landscape an made a wheen o sketches, an he read the auncient poets an beuks on the history o airt. He wrote a play in rhyme cried Iphigenie auf Tauris which combines the beauty o Classicism wi great poetry.

Whan he returned frae Italy he settled ance mair in Weimar. He veesit Italy a seicont time. He became great freins wi the famous poet an playwricht Friedrich Schiller. The twa men talkit aboot mony o thair ideas an helpit ilkane ither bi offerin criticism o thair wirks. He wrote short wirks lik Hermann und Dorothea that is aboot life in a smaa German toun at the time o the French Revolution.

Twa wirks o the greatest importance wirks occupied him at this time. Ane is the novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. This is an ensaumple o what is cried in German a “Bildungsroman” which means something lik “Education novel”. It means a novel which shows a person growin up an developin his character an learnin aboot the warld. This beuk wis a very important influence on the 19t century Romantic novel an on aw German autobiographical novels ever syne. Goethe spent mony years wirkin on this beuk.

The seicont wirk o enormous importance wis his play Faust. He made chynges tae the oreeginal version, pittin aw the smaa bits thegether intae ane great play. Schiller gae him advice while he wis writin it. Faust enters intae a pact wi the devil, Mephistopheles who promises him aw his soul can wish for: fine livin, gowd, weemen an honour. He signs the pact wi his bluid.

Later life (1805-1832)

[eedit | eedit soorce]

Napoleon wis fechtin wars aw ower Europe at this time. Germany wis made up o a wheen o smaa kintras. Goethe aye thocht on Napoleon as a hero. His ideas aboot politics wis still based on 18t century ideas. He wis pacifist an sae he didna tak pairt in politics but concentrate on science an literature. He writ a beuk cried Die Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Affinities) that is aboot a divorce problem. Some o his scienteefic ideas is uised in the story as he talks aboot the wey that twa chemical compounds can break up an form new unions. He compares this tae the fowk in his story. His poems in Westöstlicher Divan are some o his greatest. He uises ideas frae Persie an ither Eastren kintras thegether wi ideas frae the West. It haes a lot o parables aboot human life.

Mony interestin things that Goethe said war written doun in a beuk bi his friend Eckermann, wha published them in a beuk cried Conversations wi Goethe. Goethe wrote aboot his ain life in his autobiography that he cried Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry an Truth). The beuk tells us aboot his youth up til the time o his arrival in Weimar. It is in fower pairts. The fowert pairt wis published efter his daith. He chose the title tae shaw that he wis tellin us the truth aboot his life, but that he haed chynged the order o some events tae mak it intae a poetic beuk.

Goethe writ a sequel tae Wilhelm Meister cried Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (The Years o Wilhelm Meister’s Wanderings). It consists o several sections that is lik separate stories. Thay tell us aboot Wilhelm Meister’s relationship wi society an hou he haes tae chynge his ways tae fit in wi ither fowk.

Goethe’s Faust haed made him the greatest person in European literature. At the end o his life, he feenished a seicont pairt o Faust. It is mair o a lang poem than a dramatic play. It talks o his ideas aboot allegory, science an filosofie.

Goethe died in Weimar on Mairch 22, 1832. He haed startit as a great Classical writer o the 18t century an feenished as a young Romantic o the 19t century. Nae ither buddy haed a siclike muckle influence on airt an literature o that time.

His works

[eedit | eedit soorce]


  • Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand, 1773
  • Prometheus, 1774
  • Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, 1774
  • Iphigenie auf Tauris, 1779
  • Torquato Tasso, 1780 - 1790
  • Römische Elegien, 1788-90
  • Venezianische Epigramme, 1790
  • Faust. Ein Fragment, 1790
  • Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 1795/96
  • Faust. Eine Tragödie, 1808
  • Theory of colours, 1810
  • West-östlicher Divan, 1819
  • Faust II, 1833

Ither wabsteids

[eedit | eedit soorce]