A Blupete Biography Page

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is difficult to know where to place Goethe: he was a German writer, the leader of the German Romantic movement; he was a philosopher; but, foremost, he was a scientist; and, so, I place him here, in these pages, amongst the other classic scientists. As a scientist, Goethe carried on extensive research, especially in plant biology and in optics writing "On the Theory Colors, 1810." Goethe looked at things in a different manner, different than those thinkers up to his time; "he always attempted to see the individual phenomenon as part of an organic, developing whole ..." (Benet's). During the span between 1775 and 1786 (1786 being when he left for his two year sojourn in Italy), while in Weimar, he and Charlotte von Stein took up with one another. Stein was a woman Goethe worshiped for a decade; there was not much romance; it was a "spiritual companionship." Upon Goethe's return from Italy, where he had experienced a "sensual awakening," he was soon to learn "he and Charlotte had little in common." The "theme of renunciation, which is extremely important in all Goethe's later works, is largely based on his experience with Charlotte." He turned to poetry to describe his way. It was in his poem "Prometheus," (written 1774?) we see what was to become a motto for a whole new movement ("Weimar Classicism," or "German Romanticism"), "man must believe not in gods but in himself alone." (Contra: "... all truth comes from God ... God speaks by and through everything. Every insect, every leaf has something to say." [Crabb Robinson's diary.]) Goethe's poetic works are characterized by an interest in the natural, organic development of things, rather than in any idealistic schemes. Goethe was not in agreement with other authors, such as: Hölderlin, Kleist, and Heine. For a short biography by an authoritative and readable author, see Emerson's work Representative Men, on the 'Net, ; and see his works .


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Peter Landry