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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

While the poetic drama Faust may be his most well-known work, the German-born Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was many things, including poet, playwright, novelist and philosopher.

Considered to be one of the greatest providers of the German Romantic period, his early education was surprisingly unstructured. Johann Wolfgang von GoetheInitially he received his education from his father, the Imperial Councillor Johann Kaspar Goethe, and, later, tutors. It is believed he learned story-telling from his mother, Katharina Elisabeth. In 1765, at sixteen, Goethe attended Leipzig University. His father hoped he would pursue law, and Goethe did so, despite the attention earned for Rococo poems and lyrics written during this time.

Falling in love in 1766 provided Goethe with the motivation to write an enthusiastic collection of poems, entitled Annette. He continued to study law, attending various academic lectures. In 1771, Goethe achieved the status of licentitatus juris having earned his law degree, but also succeeded in publishing his first printed anthology of poems. Goethe practiced law, but was often more involved with writing. Götz von Berlichingen was published in 1773, followed by his success with the 1774 The Sorrows of Young Werther, a story which afforded Goethe cult-like status and attention while also expressing the human emotion-based literary movement of the time. In 1775, Goethe went to Weimar at the request of Duke Karl August and was granted citizenship a year later. His life here was interrupted only by a surprising two year hiatus to Italy, where he met his eventual wife. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe died in 1832, following an infection from which he fully expected to recover, a short time after finishing his final work, mandated to be published only after his death, Faust.

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