“ On the 28th of August, 1749, at mid-day, as the clock struck twelve,
I came into the world, at Frankfurt on the Main. My horoscope was
propitious: The sun stood in the sign of the Virgin, and had culminated
for the day; Jupiter and Venus looked on him with a friendly eye,
and Mercury not adversely; while Saturn and Mars kept themselves
indifferent; the Moon alone, just full, exerted the power of her
reflection all the more, as she had then reached her planetary hour.
She opposed herself, therefore, to my birth, which could not be
accomplished until this hour was passed.”
These lines were written by the German Shakespeare: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, born in Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. He was only 22 years old, when he had already become famous all over Europe for his first novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.
In his later life Goethe became so known and famous all over Europe, that the small town of Weimar not far from Berlin became the secret capital of European Arts and Cultural discourse. Today The Goethe Haus and Schiller’s residence attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and a week in Weimar can become one of your highlights when visiting Germany and Europe. I prefer to visit in May or June, to enjoy the warm spring days and long nights with the brilliant sunlight, the sun still shining until 9 pm and even longer. What a difference compared with the southern hemisphere …
My life became connected to this genius of German literature and culture automatically, because I was born exactly 200 years later: Even as a boy my parents loved to tell their story of coincidence to their friends, and they had even thought of naming me Johann Wolfgang, as my father’s name was Johann and the first born son in Northern Germany was to carry the father’s or grandfather’s first name, so was the tradition of the family living in the country. Luckily a befriended couple had a son some weeks before I was born, and as he was named Wolfgang, they decided on a different name for me, which was Peter and then followed my grandfather’s name Hanns as this was the rule of those days, where I was born: In the Land of the Horizons between the Baltic and the North Sea and Denmark and Hamburg. Truly Northern …
Throughout my life I followed Goethe’s phases and stations of his life and read what he had published 200 years before: When he became 30 years old and then 40 years old: What had he experienced and what had he thought and what had he written? What was life and society like those days?
How did he change when he reached the age of 50 years? What was traveling like those days and why did he travel to Italy leaving Weimar for two years? And why did he come back to this rather narrow life in this small town, not even a city like Frankfurt or Berlin or Munich?
Interesting that Goethe begins his autobiography with his horoscope and the constellation of the stars! When I worked in The Departement of Education in Brisbane (EQ) in the function of the German Language Adviser, I was necessarily cooperating with the Goethe-Institut based in Sydney, the German Cultural and Language Institut which may be seen as a branch of the German Foreign Office: After three years of service in Queensland, I was offered a follow up contract with the Goethe-Institut Munich, which lasted another four years. So finally — I felt — the Goethe stars constellation in the night sky had worked out very well for me …
When visiting the Goethe and the Schiller Homes in Weimar with my sister, I was fascinated how well organized and how informative these two museums have been prepared for the public. Do not miss going there and buy a few books in your language on Goethe and Schiller and their productive friendship.
More on Friedrich Schiller here …on britannica.com
Education and Passion …via Youtube Ken Robinson — listen to this story!
I know that I don't know, because I have not thought about it …
To be born is a miracle … and you won't be here for long …
Life is about making decisions and choose what you become (Carl Jung)
Goethe was an All Round Genius and a very active person: His house in Weimar attracted many visitors, and sometimes he just walked away when bored and continued his work … while his visitors drank his red wine!
About one third of his income went into wine … those days!
Read about his Theory Of Colours here … Die Farbenlehre nach Goethe (in German).
Theory of Colours / Wikipedia
More via Goodreads here …
Read more about Goethe here on britannica.com
Written by Nicholas Boyle, University of Cambridge
And the Wikipedia Article is very informative as well!
Ruediger Safranski has studied the lives of Goethe and Schiller and their time for years and published the best biography I know about this genius and his time: His book is available in many languages, and on Youtube there are a few interviews with the philosopher and author Safranski, in German, highly recommended. In 2014 he was awarded the Thomas Mann Prize.
More about the Goethe-Institut: What will the future hold?
The latest at Goethe.