Biography of Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

German writer born 28 August 1749 in Frankfurt-Main and died on March 22, 1832 in Weimar. He/She is considered one of the greatest poets not only German literature, but the history of universal literature. Critic, journalist, painter, theatre director, statesman, educator and natural philosopher, was the author of a vast and diverse work that encompasses all the disciplines of literary art: poems, fairy tales, short stories, novels and free verse dramas, the most famous Faust, one of the masterpieces of modern literature. His scientific writings occupy a thick corpus of fourteen volumes.

His father belonged to the German bourgeoisie, specifically held the position of imperial counselor. From a very young was noted for his intelligence, learned several languages without difficulty and began to write for puppet theatre. He/She went to study law at Leipzig at the age of sixteen. He/She became interested in medicine and drawing; his social life was very intense. He/She began to write verses of anacreontico tone, very libertine, the book by Annette. He/She was in love with Käthchen Schönkopf, Idyll that did not last long but left him totally distraught. He/She returned to Frankfurt in 1768, where he/she spent a terrible disease. During these difficult years, Goethe came into contact with the pietistas, in particular with Susanne von Klettenberg, which took the inspiration for the character of the beautiful soul of the Meister; In addition he/she studied Alchemy and esotericism. In 1770 he/she went to Strasbourg to complete their studies; There he/she discovered the Gothic and Shakespeare. He/She returned to fall, this time of Friederike Brion. Friederike inspired him part of his best verses, although when he/she left him, it emerged in a strong sense of guilt, which took on the character of Margarita in Faust. He/She wrote in 1771 the first part of the drama Götz von Berlichingen; the rebellion of the character exalted minds of the Group of writers who were Sturm und Drang. 1771-75 were the lyrical fragments Prometheus and Muhammad. Free rhythm was called the pedestrian cycle, 1772-74, finished in 1777 with winter trip to Harz. In 1771, for a few months, it was in Wetzlar working as an Attorney; fell in love with Charlotte Buff, Kestner promised. This impossible love inspired misadventures of Young Werther, 1774.

From this work, Goethe was the protagonist of the German literary circles, met the brothers Jacobi and Klopstock, Lavater, and came to Swedenborg and Spinoza. Amorous, he/she met Lili Schönemann, who inspired him with Clavijo, about an unfaithful boyfriend, and Stella, drama about the double marriage. Together with the brothers Stolberg traveled in 1775 to Switzerland, arrived at the Gottardo. When he/she returned to Frankfurt broke with Lili.


He was a tutor of the Duke of Weimar, Karl August. He/She had written part of a drama about Faust, who read to the ladies of the Court; It was the so-called Urfaust, found in 1887, among the papers of a lady who had copied it. It was the masterpiece of the Sturm und Drang. It was the magician and the tragedy of Daisy, in hard language, which would later become the first part of the definitive Faust. The city of Weimar began to become a total cultural center; writers of the stature of Herder, Wieland and Schiller were established there. Goethe was devoted to the study of Mineralogy, botany and optics: theory of colors.

During the years 1775-86, he/she made relations with Charlotte von Stein, it maintained an important correspondence with her and some beautiful poems dedicated to him. He/She continued working on Faust, as well as writing a first version of the Meister: the theatrical vocation of Wilhelm Meister, Fisher ballads, 1778; The King of the elves, 1782, and the limits of the human, 1778 and the divine hymns, 1783. He/She left Weimar in 1786, he/she travelled around Italy, he/she did not return to Weimar until 1788. His trip to Italy was the work: journey to Italy, whose notes appeared in 1828. He/She discovered the classical world, as demonstrated in: Roman Elegies, 1789; Venetian epigrams; versed Ifigenia in Tauride, 1787, which had been drafted in prose, drama in yambicos trimetros not rhymed.

Maturity in Weimar

When he/she returned to Weimar, distanced himself from the Court and society, however, the bonds of friendship with Schiller were enlarged. He/She devoted himself to the study of physics and natural sciences. In 1806 he/she married Christiane Vulpius, who had been living years. Wrote verse and Egmont, Torquato Tasso, drama in prose. During this period he/she was confused by the French Revolution; in it he/she saw the disorder. It followed the Duke of Weimar in the fight against the French, ran the year 1792, he/she fought at Valmy, it had to accept a shameful defeat and the corresponding withdrawal. He/She wrote anti-revolutionary mediocre comedies, such as: entertainment of German émigrés; the fable story and a medieval bestiary, written in hexametros, entitled the Fox Reineke, 1794. Between 1795-96 ended the second wording of the Meister: the years of learning from Wilhelm Meister, overview of his life, by means of realistic characters and symbolic situations. The main character is a young bourgeois; all your effort is devoted to the theatre, but throughout the work leaves literary illusion to take life seriously. Along with Schiller, he/she wrote violent controversial epigrams as Xenien; articles in the magazine Die Propyläen, 1790-1800; the Idyll of Hermann and Dorothea hexametros, 1797; the epic fragments Achilleis and lyrical metamorphosis of animals, 1799; The natural child drama, 1802; Pandora, 1808; Fables ballads, 1813-16 and tales, 1828, but this time the most important thing was the first part of Faust, which appeared in 1808.

Final years

After Schiller's death in 1805, Goethe experienced a period of disappointment; He/She felt isolated from their homeland even though his fame grew everywhere; He/She began the study of English, French and Italian cultures; of these years was the novel elective affinities, 1809, about loving relationships between two couples. He/She studied Eastern poetry and became friends with Marianne von Willemer, from which the poems were born: occidental-oriental collection, 1814-19, cosmic and erotic poetry; and the autobiography of my life. Poetry and truth, 1809-14. Meanwhile, he/she worked in the second part of the years of pilgrimage of Wilhelm Meister Meister. The gestation of this book took thirty years; the theme of the work is the renunciation of individual happiness for the sake of the common good. Shortly before his death, on July 22, 1831, completed Faust, in five acts, which appeared posthumously in 1832. During this last period he/she collaborated in the journal art and antiquity and followed the path of Balzac, Manzoni and Stendhal; He/She studied the Chinese poetry and Dante. His Secretary j. Eckermann described perfectly in conversations, the intellectual life of Goethe. Love that felt by Ulrike von Lewetzov prompted you to write one of his best lyrical works: call Elegy of Marienbad, 1823. Master of romanticism in Europe, its classicism was not understood. He/She was opponent of the revolution and admirer of Napoleon, by its excessive faith in enlightened rationalism and little sympathy for democracy. It was more admired than beloved.Fausto.