Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Easton Press Johann Wolfgang von Goethe books

Faust - 100 Greatest Books Ever Written  - 1980
Faust - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 2001

Franklin Library Johann Wolfgang von Goethe books

Faust - Great Books of the Western World - 1978
Faust - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1979
Faust - Oxford Library of The World's Greatest Books - 1984


Writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born on August 28, 1749, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, was one of the most influential figures in German literature, poetry, and philosophy. A polymath of the Enlightenment era, Goethe made significant contributions to various fields, leaving an indelible mark on European culture. Goethe's early education began in Frankfurt, where he studied law at the University of Leipzig. However, his true passion lay in literature, and he soon immersed himself in the world of poetry and classical literature. His early works, such as the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), brought him widespread acclaim and established him as a leading figure in the Sturm und Drang movement, a German literary movement characterized by emotional and subjective expression.

In the 1780s, Goethe embarked on a journey through Italy, a transformative experience that influenced his artistic and philosophical outlook. During this time, he wrote the first part of his magnum opus, Faust, a tragic play that would become one of the greatest works in German literature. Faust explores themes of knowledge, temptation, and the human condition. Upon returning to Weimar, Goethe entered the service of Duke Carl August, where he held various roles, including minister of state. In addition to his political duties, he continued to produce a diverse body of work, including poetry, plays, and essays. His literary output during this period included the completion of Faust and the writing of "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship," a novel that reflects his views on education, culture, and society.

Goethe's scientific interests also played a significant role in his life. He made notable contributions to botany, geology, and optics. His work on the theory of color, articulated in Theory of Colours (1810), influenced thinkers like Arthur Schopenhauer and the Romantic poets.

Throughout his lifetime, Goethe maintained friendships with prominent intellectuals of his era, including Friedrich Schiller and Johann Gottfried Herder. His correspondences with these figures are valuable records of the intellectual currents of the time. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's literary and philosophical legacy extends far beyond his own era. His influence can be seen in various artistic movements, including Romanticism, and his ideas have resonated through the works of subsequent generations of writers, philosophers, and artists. Goethe passed away on March 22, 1832, leaving behind a legacy that continues to shape the cultural landscape of Germany and beyond.

Goethe pronunciation

The pronunciation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's name in German is approximately "Yo-hahn Volfgahng fon Gey-tuh." The breakdown is as follows:
Johann: Yo-hahn
Wolfgang: Volfgahng
von: fon
Goethe: Gey-tuh
Please note that the "oe" in Goethe is pronounced like the German "ö," which is a rounded vowel sound similar to the "i" in "bird." The "th" in Goethe is pronounced like the "t" in "time," not like the English "th" in "the." The stress is typically on the first syllable of both "Wolfgang" and "Goethe."



Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived from 1749 to 1832. During his long life, he studied, traveled and had the opportunity to meditate on the past and the present. He knew his fellow men in their most intimate intimacy, and, as a result of his observations and accumulated experience, life seen through his eyes takes on exceptional value.

Faust can be considered his magnum opus, the one that has traveled around the world and built the pedestal of his glory.

First, in folk legends, unknown bards told this story of fire. Then literary scholars discovered it while searching for interesting stories in old chronicles. Who hasn't sharpened their pen to whisper to the human being the secret contract between the devil and man? But the most immortal of them all, the one that screamed the good news and the curse in a way that shook all souls, was Goethe's Faust. Faust was the first great work to herald the tragedy of modernity. What was described was a battle of wills in which it was unclear who won and who deceived whom.

The gist of the story was this: Satan challenged God, knowing the end of the war. Because there could not be an angel who did not know the story of creation. However, when the person who forgot his own story stepped in, this challenge turned into a big question mark. Maybe not for the devil, but definitely for man...

The devil is a question mark, the soul is a question mark, the human being is a row of question marks... And as soon as man's permanent era on earth began, the era of bargaining and possible contracts regarding the soul began. There was no human being unaware of this contract. It was always one side of the bargain. Maybe that's why everyone who wants to read themselves paid attention and listened to this story: "Who is Faust? Did he give his soul to the Devil? What kind of contract was this?"

Isn't listening to ourselves from others our favorite profession? So, let's listen to Goethe, who describes a theme that everyone is familiar with by placing life on the shoulders of a legendary character... His immortal work, Faust, to which he devoted his entire life...

Goethe’s Faust reworks the late medieval myth of a brilliant scholar so disillusioned he resolves to make a contract with Mephistopheles. The devil will do all he asks on Earth and seeks to grant him a moment in life so glorious that he will wish it to last forever. But if Faust does bid the moment stay, he falls to Mephistopheles and must serve him after death. In this first part of Goethe’s great work, the embittered thinker and Mephistopheles enter into their agreement, and soon Faust is living a rejuvenated life and winning the love of the beautiful Gretchen. But in this compelling tragedy of arrogance, unfulfilled desire, and self-delusion, Faust heads inexorably toward an infernal destruction.

Part One presents Faust's pact with the Devil and the harrowing tragedy of his love affair with the young Gretchen. Part Two shows Faust's experience in the world of public affairs, including his encounter with Helen of Troy, the emblem of classical beauty and culture. The whole is a symbolic and panoramic commentary on the human condition and on modern European history and civilization.

Goethe's most complex and profound work, Faust was the effort of the great poet's entire lifetime. Written over a period of sixty years, it can be read as a document of Goethe's moral and artistic development. As a drama drawn from an immense variety of cultural and historical material, set in a wealth of poetic and theatrical traditions, it can be read as the story of Western humanity striving restlessly and ruthlessly for progress.

Faust, based on a traditional theme, and finally completed in 1831, is an exploration of that restless intellectual and emotional urge which found its fullest expression in the European Romantic movement, to which Goethe was an early and major contributor. Part I of the work outlines a pact Faust makes with the devil, Mephistopheles, and encompasses the tragedy of Gretchen, whom Faust seduces. Part II, developed over a long period of Goethe’s later life, reflects Goethe’s own transition from a predominantly Romantic to a wider world-view and explores more extensive themes, including the values of the Classical past, as it moves towards the work’s resolution.

The protagonist, Faust, is presented in a complex manner, and Goethe’s treatment of the subject matter raises ethical and spiritual issues, many of which are not resolved within the drama itself. Goethe’s stress is on Faust’s striving towards the good, and on the nature of human error, rather than on the traditional Christian view of sin and redemption, and the play’s opening sections and its conclusion can be seen as humanist allegory or metaphor rather than an expression of orthodox religious belief. It is left to the reader to draw their own conclusion about Faust’s every-man character, and the extent to which he earns his ultimate spiritual salvation.

The play had an enormous influence on later German thought and literature, and together with his lyric poetry has ensured Goethe’s place among the great European writers.

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