Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 - 1832
Oil on canvas by Joseph Karl Stieler (1828)
Born: 28 August 1749, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Holy Roman Empire
Died: 22 March 1832, Weimar, Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Goethe's father Caspar, frustrated at his own advancement due to poor education, hired tutors to teach Johann and his sister Cornelia. By the time he was sent to Leipzig to study law at age 15, he spoke six languages. He detested the rote learning of judicial rules and devoted much of his time to poetry; he was sent home for lack of progress. He spent a year and a half in and out of bed with an unknown illness and several relapses, then went to Strasbourg to complete his legal studies. He briefly practiced law at Frankfurt, published his first drama, and was an editor of literary magazine. He moved to Wetzlar in 1772 and attempted the law again, but two years later he wrote The Sorrows of Young Wether which established his name. On the strength of that book he was invited to join the court of Grand Duke Carl August at Weimar as a close advisor; other than two years traveling in Italy he remained in this post for the rest of his life. He assisted the Duke's military actions, including a failed invasion of France in 1792. In 1794 he began a collaboration with Friedrich Schiller which lasted until the latter's death in 1805. In 1806 Napoleon's army invaded Weimar and the home in which Goethe, his mistress Christine Vulpius, and at least one of their children were living. Christine resisted and barricaded the family in the kitchen and cellar. Goethe quietly married Christine, with whom he had lived for eighteen years, the next day. As a poet, novelist, and dramatist he practically defined German intellectual activity for much of his adult life, he also was a scientist and pursued geology, botany, anatomy, physics, and the history of science.
Biography from Wikipedia
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes:
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- A clever man commits no minor blunders. permalink
- A correct answer is like an affectionate kiss. permalink
Proverbs in Prose (1819)
- A life without love, without the presence of the beloved, is nothing but a mere magic-lantern show. We draw out slide after slide, swiftly tiring of each, and pushing it back to make haste for the next. permalink
- A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. permalink
- A man who does not know foreign language is ignorant of his own. permalink
- A man's errors are what make him amiable. permalink
- A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait. permalink
- A man's name is not like a mantle which merely hangs about him, and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting garment, which, like the skin, has grown over and over him, at which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself. permalink
- A noble person attracts noble people, and knows how to hold on to them. permalink
- A person can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days. permalink
- A phenomenon like Mozart remains an inexplicable thing. permalink
- A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrent. permalink
- A useless life is an early death. permalink
Iphigenia and Tauris (1779)
- A world without love would be no world. permalink
- Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him. permalink
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