Monday, April 15, 2002

I promised someone an essay on Goethe and I haven't come up with anything yet. But here is an excellent article surveying Goethe's life and works. Note especially that his Sturm und Drang period was prior to even the birth of most of the English Romantics, and that the German Romantic movement was named in opposition to Goethe and Schiller's Classicism. So why is Goethe considered a Romantic by most English majors and even some textbooks? You tell me.

From the article, I put together a chronology of Goethe's works.

1773 Goetz of Berlichingen - A play about a Medieval hero with a (literal)
      iron hand.
1774 The Sorrows of Young Werther -The ultimate Romantic novel of
      unrequited love.
1775 Faust: A Fragment - The core of Faust's romance and wager.
1787 Iphigenia in Tauris - Goethe's ultimate classical play, about the
        triumph of honesty, strength and ethics over adversity.
1789 Torquato Tasso - A play about an Italian playwright who represents all
        poets.
1789 Roman Elegies - Poems, some off-color, written while in Italy.
1790 The Metamorphosis of Plants - Attempt to discover a primal form in
      various plants.
1794 Reynard the Fox - Fable of the utility of cunning.
1795 Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship - A Bildungsroman: an novelistic
          account of the cultural education of a young man.
1795 Conversations of German Refugees
1798 Hermann and Dorothea - A classical poetic epic of a German couple.
1809 Elective Affinities - A romantic and tragic novel about partner
          switching and a mystical scientific principle.
1810 Theory of Colors - An attempt to "save the phenomena" of light
          and an attack on Newton's very well established optic theory.
1811-33 From My Life: Truth and Poetry - One of the first psychologically
          literate autobiographies, not unlike Rousseau's Confessions.
1816 Italian Journey - An autobiographical account of Goethe's flight from
        literary celebrity into the land that is the inspiration for Goethe's
        classical period.
1819 West-Eastern Divan - The first book of world literaure, a book of
        poetry including many homages to eastern writers including
        Mohammad, Rumi, and Hafiz.
1821 Wilhelm Meister's Travels - Continuation of the bildungsroman and a
        ready vehicle for Goethe's opinions.
1832 Faust, Part Two - Faust has more symbolic, mythic and bizarre
        poetical adventures.
1836 Conversations with Goethe - The conversations of Goethe's last ten
        years, arranged by date and recorded more or less accurately by
        Goethe's assistant, Eckermann.

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