1. Education

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

German Literature

“Für Naturen wie die meine ist eine Reise unschätzbar: Sie belebt, berichtigt, belehrt und bildet.” - Goethe, der Weltbürger (Citizen of the World)

Biographical Summary
Goethe Book Germany and the world celebrated Goethe's 250th birthday in 1999. The German novelist, poet, playwright, and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Main on August 28, 1749. But he didn't stay there. (See "Places identified with Goethe" below.) Goethe (GUEH-tah) is a giant in German and world literature. In fact, he coined the term Weltliteratur and spoke Greek, Latin, French, English and Italian. Aside from its quality, the sheer volume of work during his 82-year lifetime is impressive. Among other works, Goethe wrote a worldwide, best-selling novel (Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers, 1774), volumes of poetry, and several dramas, including his masterwork: Faust — a massive two-volume work that was not entirely finished by the time of the poet's death. Goethe also dabbled in painting and science ("Farbenlehre"/"Theory of Color"), although his greatest achievements by far were in literature.

Photos > Goethe's House in Weimar

In the early 21st century, the "Gothic Shakespeare" has become a somewhat controversial figure in the German-speaking world. A landslide of Goethe biographies coinciding with the 250th anniversary of his birth (in the 18th century) brought into question many aspects of the person who became the king of German literature. Many of his biographers have tried to demystify the legend and shed more light on the man by questioning everything from his sexual preferences to his religious views. But no one can dispute Goethe's impact on Germany's literary legacy as well as Weltliteratur.

Goethe's works include:

  • Goethe-Gedichte (Goethe Poetry) with English translations
    Works including: "Erlkönig," "Nähe des Geliebten," "Totentanz," "Wandrers Nachtlied II," and "Faust" excerpts

  • Götz von Berlichingen (1773, drama)
  • Die Leiden des jungen Werthers / The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774, novel)
  • Erlkönig (1782, poem)
  • Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787, dramatic verse)
  • Faust, ein Fragment (1790, drama)
  • Metamorphose der Pflanzen / Metamorphosis of Plants (1790, scientific treatise)
  • Römische Elegien / Roman Elegies (1793, poems)
  • Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre / Wilhelm Meister's Years of Apprenticeship (1795-96)
  • Zur Farbenlehre / Theory of Color (1805-10, scientific treatise)
  • Die Wahlverwandschaften / Elective Affinities (1809, novel)
  • Italienische Reise / Italian Journey (1816, 1829) > Text (Web)
  • West-östlicher Divan / Divan of East and West (1819)
  • Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre / Wilhelm Meister's Travels (1821-29)
  • Faust I (1808) & Faust II (1827, 1832, dramatic verse)

  • J.W. Goethe - Projekt Gutenberg (Werke online)

QUOTES > Goethe-Zitate - Quotations in German and English from works by Goethe

Places identified with Goethe - on the Web:

MORE > Goethe Books | Goethe-Gedichte (Poetry) | Goethe Links
QUOTES > Goethe-Zitate (Goethe quotations in German and English)

FOTOS > J.W. Goethe in Weimar

Related Pages

Authors in German Literature 1
Our main page for German-language authors on the Web.

Authors in German Literature 2
Our author index and link page for German-language authors on the Web.

Book Reviews
Reviews of books and materials for German.

Books in German
Find and buy German literary and other works online and locally.

Das Goethe-Institut
All about this indispensible resource for just about anything to do with German and German culture.

German Literature
Articles and links for German literature.

German proverbs, sayings, and literary quotations on the Web.

German Newsletters
Subscribe to a free newsletter!


©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.