Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: biography, photos, works, quotes
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: biography, photos, works, quotes

Video: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: biography, photos, works, quotes

Video: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: biography, photos, works, quotes
Video: Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow (UNESCO/NHK) 2023, December

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, a classic of world literature. Born in Frankfurt am Main, an old German city, on August 28, 1749. He died at the age of 83, on March 22, 1832, in the city of Weimar.

Goethe's father, Johann Kaspar Goethe, a we althy German burgher, served as an imperial adviser. Mother, daughter of a senior policeman, Katarina Elisabeth Goethe, nee Textor. In 1750, Johann Goethe's sister Cornelia was born. Subsequently, the parents had several more children, but, unfortunately, they all died in infancy.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: short biography

Cosy atmosphere, mother's affectionate attitude revealed a world of fantasy for a small child. Thanks to the we alth of the family, the atmosphere of fun always reigned in the house, there were many games, songs, fairy tales, which allowed the child to develop in every sense. Under the strict supervision of his father, already at the age of eight, Goethe wrote German and Latin discourses on themes of moralizing. Fascinated by the beauty of nature, he even tried to summon a fantastic deity that rules over the elements.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When the French occupation ended,which lasted more than two years, Frankfurt seemed to wake up after a long hibernation. The townspeople showed interest in the theatrical stage, this also affected little Johann: he tried to write tragedies in the French style.

Von Goethe's house had a good library, with a large number of books in different languages, which made it possible for the future writer to become intimately familiar with literature in early childhood. He read Virgil in the original, got acquainted with the Metamorphoses and the Iliad. Goethe studied several languages. In addition to his native German, he was fluent in French, Italian, Greek and Latin. He also took dance lessons, fencing and horseback riding. A gifted young man, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose biography is very chaotic, achieved success not only in literature, but also in jurisprudence.

Studied at the University of Leipzig, graduated from the University of Strasbourg, defended his thesis in law. But the legal field did not attract him, he was much more interested in medicine, later he took up osteology and anatomy.

Johann Goethe
Johann Goethe

First love and first creativity

In 1772, Goethe was sent to practice law in Wetzlar, where he was to study the judicial activities of the Roman Empire. There he met Charlotte Buff, the fiancee of I. Kestner, secretary of the Hanover embassy. Wolf fell in love with a girl, but realized the futility of his torment and left the city, leaving a letter to his beloved. Soon, Goethe learned from Kestner's letter that he had shot himself by F. Jeruzal, who was also in loveto Charlotte Buff.

Goethe was greatly shocked by what happened, he also had thoughts of suicide. A new hobby brought him out of depression, he fell in love with the daughter of his friend, Maximilian Brentano, who was married. Goethe made great efforts to overcome this feeling. Thus, The Sorrows of Young Werther was born.

While studying at the University of Leipzig, he met Kathen Scheunkopf and fell passionately in love. To win the attention of the girl, he begins to write funny poems about her. This occupation fascinated him, he began to imitate the poems of other poets. So, for example, his comedy work Die Mitschuldigen, among the poems of Höllenfahrt Christi, smacks of Kramer's spirit. Johann Wolfgang Goethe continues to improve his work, writes in the Rococo style, but his style is still barely visible.


The turning point in Goethe's work can be considered his acquaintance and friendship with Garder. It was Garder who influenced Goethe's attitude to culture and poetry. In Strasbourg, Wolfgang Goethe met the aspiring writers Wagner and Lenz. Interested in folk poetry. She enjoys reading Ossian, Shakespeare, Homer. While practicing law, Goethe continues to work hard in the literary field.


In 1775, Goethe met the Duke of Weimar, Crown Prince of Saxony, Karl August. In the autumn of that year, he moved to Weimar, where he subsequently spent most of his life. In the first years of his life in Weimar, he took an active part in the development of the duchy. tooksupervise the military collegium, road construction work. At the same time, he writes the drama "Iphigenia in Taurida" and the play "Egmont", begins to work on "Faust". Among the works of that time one can also note his ballads and "Poems for Lida".

During the French Revolution and the Franco-Prussian War, Goethe moved away from literature somewhat, his interest was taken by the natural sciences. He even made a discovery in anatomy in 1784, when he discovered the human premaxilla.

Works by Goethe
Works by Goethe

Schiller's influence

From 1786 to 1788, Goethe traveled around Italy, which was reflected in his work as the era of classicism. Returning to Weimar, he retired from court affairs. But Goethe did not immediately come to a settled life, he went on trips more than once. He visited Venice, visited Breslau with the Duke of Weimar, took part in a military campaign against Napoleon. In 1794 he met Friedrich Schiller, helped him in the publication of the Ory magazine. Their communication and joint discussion of plans gave Goethe a new creative impetus, so their joint work Xenien appeared, published in 1796.

The bonds of marriage or another romance

At the same time, Goethe began to live with a young girl who worked in a flower shop, Christiane Vilpius. The entire public of Weimar was shocked, relationships outside of marriage at that time were something out of the ordinary. Only in October 1806 did he marry his beloved Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His wife Christiane Vulpius had already given birth to several children at that time, but all except Augustus, the first sonGoethe, are dead. Augustus and his wife Otilija had three children, but none of them married, so Goethe's line was interrupted in 1831 when his son Augustus died in Rome.

The first significant works of Goethe can be attributed to 1773. His drama Gottfried von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand made an indelible impression on his contemporaries. In this work, Goethe presented in an unexpected perspective the image of a fighter for social equality and justice, a fairly typical image in the literature of that time. The hero of the work, Goetz von Berlichingen, is a knight dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the country. Therefore, he decides to start an uprising of the peasants, but when things have taken a serious turn, he retreats from him. The rule of law is established, the revolutionary movements, described in the drama as self-will and chaos, turned out to be powerless. Final act: the hero finds freedom in death, his last words: “Farewell, dear ones! My roots are cut, my strength leaves me. Oh, what heavenly air! Freedom, freedom!”

The reason for writing a new work "Elective Affinity" was Goethe's new hobby - Minna Herzlieb. Experiencing another mental decline, he left for Carlsbad, where he began to write a novel. He borrowed the name from chemistry, the term means the phenomenon of random attraction. Goethe showed that the action of natural laws is acceptable not only in chemistry, but also in human relations, or rather, in love. In everyday life, everything has its special symbolic meaning, and in the novel, deep philosophical reflections are combined with the simplicity of everyday life.

Biography of Goethe
Biography of Goethe

Goethe's work

In the drama "Iphigenia" one can feel the strong influence of Homer. Orestes, brother of Iphigenia, and his friend Pylades arrive in Tauris. In Orestes one can see the resemblance to Goethe himself. Embraced by anxiety, driven by sinister furies, seeing hostile creatures in the Olympians, Orestes hopes to find peace in the arms of death. Iphigenia, in order to save her brother and his friend, who were sentenced to death, puts her fate in the hands of the king of Tauris, Toan. With her sacrifice, she atones for the curse placed on Tantalus and his descendants for self-will. Also, with her act, she heals her brother, as if renewing, calms his soul. As a result, Orestes acts like Iphigenia, renouncing his fate.

Perfect creation

In 1774, Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote a novel in letters, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Many consider this creation to be the most perfect, giving the author worldwide fame and glory. This work describes the confrontation between the world and man, which suddenly grew into a love story. Werther is a young boy who does not agree with the burgher way of life and the laws that prevailed in Germany. Like Goetz von Berlichingen, Werther challenges the system. He does not want to become a flattering, pompous and arrogant person, it is better to die. As a result, a romantic, a strong-willed person, is devastated, all attempts to defend the image of his fictional, ideal world fail.

In the "Roman Elegies" Goethe is filled with the joy of paganism, shows his participation in the culture of antiquity. The protagonist is content with everything that can be taken from life, there is no cravingto the unattainable, there is no self-denial of one's will. The author shows all the joy and sensuality of love, which he interprets not as an irresistible force that brings a person closer to death, but as something that helps strengthen ties with the earth.

Torquato Tasso

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1790 wrote a drama about the collision of two different people - Torquato Tasso. The action of the drama takes place at the court of the Duke of Ferrara. The heroes are the poet Tasso, who does not want to obey the laws and customs of the court, who does not accept its customs, and the courtier Antonio, who, on the contrary, voluntarily follows these laws. All Tasso's attempts to disobey the will of the court, to show his independence, ended in failure, which greatly shocked him. As a result, Tasso recognizes the wisdom and worldly experience of Antonio: “So a swimmer grabs a rock that threatened to break him.”

About Wilhelm

In some works, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe strives to show everything possible that people can renounce. This is love, and religion, and free will. In the work “The Years of the Teaching of Wilhelm Meister”, Goethe shows the main character, who has surrendered to the disposal of a secret alliance. The son of a we althy burgher family, Wilhelm gave up the career of an actor, the only opportunity to be independent in a feudal environment. He considers his creative path as a willful attitude to feudal reality, a desire to rise. As a result, having abandoned his cherished dream, showing cowardice and overcoming pride, Wilhelm enters into a secret alliance. The nobles who organized a secret society rallied people who are afraidrevolution, any change in the established burgher life.

The struggle of the Kingdom of the Netherlands against Spanish domination served as the basis for the Egmont tragedy. The protagonist fights for the independence of the nation, leaving love experiences in the background, the will of history becomes more important than the will of fate. Egmont lets everything take its course, and eventually dies due to a careless attitude to what is happening.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Johann Wolfgang Goethe


But the most famous work that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote all his life is Faust. Urfaust, a kind of preface to Faust, Goethe wrote in 1774-1775. In this part, the author's intention is just being revealed, Faust is a rebel, trying in vain to penetrate the secrets of nature, to rise above the world around him. The next passage was published in 1790, and it was not until 1800 that the prologue to In Heaven appeared, giving the drama the shape we see today. Faust's plans are motivated, because of him God and Mephistopheles entered into an argument. God predicted salvation to Faust, since anyone who seeks can make mistakes.

First part

Before reaching the ultimate goal of his life, Johann Goethe prepared Faust to undergo a series of trials. The first test was the love for the sweet bourgeois Gretchen. But Faust does not want to bind himself with family ties, limit himself to some kind of framework and leaves his beloved. In deep despair, Gretchen kills a newborn baby and dies herself. So Wolfgang von Goethe shows how striving for grandiose plans, neglecting one's own feelings and opinionsthe people around you can lead to such tragic consequences.

Second part

The second test is the union of Faust with Elena. In the shade of outlandish groves, in the company of a charming Greek woman, he finds peace for a while. But he can't stop there either. The second part of "Faust" is especially expressive, the Gothic images have given way to the ancient Greek period. The action is transferred to Hellas, the images take shape, mythological motifs slip through. The second part of the work is a kind of collection of knowledge about which Johann Goethe had an idea in life. There are reflections on philosophy, politics, natural sciences.

Rejecting belief in the other world, he decides to serve society, devote his strength and aspirations to it. Deciding to create an ideal state of free people, he begins a grandiose construction project on land reclaimed from the sea. But some forces, accidentally awakened by him, are trying to stop him. Mephistopheles, in the guise of the commander of a flotilla of merchants, against the will of Faust, kills two old men to whom he has become attached. Faust, shocked by grief, still does not cease to believe in his ideals and continues to build a state of free people until his death. In the final scene, Faust's soul is lifted up to heaven by angels.

The Legend of Faust

The basis of the plot for the tragedy "Faust" was a legend common in medieval Europe. It spoke of Johann Faust, a doctor who made a pact with the devil himself, who promised him secret knowledge with which any metal could be turned into gold. In this drama, Goethe skillfullyintertwined science and artistic design. The first part of "Faust" is more like a tragedy, and the second is filled with mystery, the plot loses its logic and is transferred to the infinity of the Universe.

Goethe's biography says that he completed his life's work on July 22, 1831, sealed the manuscript and ordered the envelope to be opened after his death. Faust took almost sixty years to write. Started during the period of "Sturm und Drang" in German literature and completed during the period of romanticism, it reflected all the changes that took place in the life and work of the poet.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe biography
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe biography

Disagreements of contemporaries

The poet's contemporaries treated him very ambiguously, his work "The Suffering of Young Werther" got more success. The novel was accepted, but still some educators decided that he preaches pessimism and lack of will. Herder was already indignant about Iphigenia, believing that his student was too carried away by classicism. The writers of young Germany, not finding democratic and liberal ideas in Goethe's works, decided to debunk him as a writer who can only be loved by insensitive and selfish people. Thus, interest in Goethe would only return towards the end of the nineteenth century. Burdach, Gundolf and others helped in this, discovering the work of the late Goethe.

Until now, the creations created by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are very popular among theater and film directors, quotes from his works are relevant in our time. The German writer and poet, thinker and statesman evokesinterest not only among their compatriots, but also among readers around the world.

Russian Goethe

In Russia, the first translations of Goethe appeared in 1781 and immediately aroused great interest in the writer's work. Karamzin, Radishchev and many others admired him. Novikov, in his Dramatic Dictionary, included Goethe among the greatest playwrights of the West. The controversy surrounding Goethe did not go unnoticed in Russia either. In the 1830s, Menzel's book translated into Russian was published, in which he gave a negative description of Goethe's work. Soon Belinsky responded to this criticism with his article. It said that Menzel's conclusions were brazen and daring. Although Belinsky later admitted that there were no social and historical elements in Goethe's works, acceptance of reality prevailed.

An interesting biography of Goethe does not reveal all the moments of his eventful life. Many points remain unclear to this day. So, for example, from 1807 to 1811 Goethe corresponded with Bettina von Arnim. This relationship is described in Kundera's novel Immortality. Correspondence ceased after a quarrel between Bettina von Arnim and Goethe's wife, Christiane Vulpius. It is also worth noting that Johann Goethe was 36 years older than Bettina.


Among Goethe's awards are the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit of the Crown of Bavaria, the Order of St. Anne of the first degree, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honor, the Commander's Cross of the Imperial Austrian Order of Leopold. Among the legacy left by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are photos, paintings from hisimage, scientific works, many monuments both in Germany and around the world. But, of course, the most significant is his literary work, at the head of which is the work of his life - Faust.

Wolfgang Goethe
Wolfgang Goethe

Goethe's works were translated into Russian by Griboyedov and Bryusov, Grigoriev and Zabolotsky. Even such classics of Russian literature as Tolstoy, Tyutchev, Fet, Kochetkov, Lermontov, Pasternak did not hesitate to translate the works of the great German poet.

Numerous biographers, who were interested in Goethe's work, noted in him an internal bifurcation. This is especially noticeable at the moment of a sharp transition from the young Johann Wolfgang, a rebel and maximalist, to a later, matured one. Goethe's later work was inspired by experience, years of reflection, filled with worldly wisdom that is not inherent in young people.

In 1930, a congress was held in Hamburg on the history and theory of art. Reports on space and time were read, very emotional discussions were held, there were many disputes. But what was most surprising was that all the speakers constantly referred to the work of Goethe, cited excerpts from his works. Of course, this suggests that a century later, he was not forgotten. His works are popular even today, they also cause a storm of admiration. Some may like them, some may not, but it is impossible to remain indifferent.