Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe <<YOH hahn VOHLF gahng fuhn GUR tuh>> (1749-1832) was a German poet, novelist, and playwright. He ranks among the most important writers of modern European literature. His masterpiece is the verse play Faust (written in two parts). Goethe was also a leading thinker and scientist.

Goethe was born on Aug. 28, 1749, in Frankfurt (am Main). The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774, revised 1787) made young Goethe famous throughout Europe. The novel tells about a young man who commits suicide after being torn by powerful emotions.

Goethe completed Faust a few months before his death on March 22, 1832. Faust is a man who desires complete knowledge and unlimited experience of life. Guided by Mephistopheles, the devil, he moves from one area of human experience to another without ever reaching full satisfaction. At the end of Part II, Faust is saved by God’s grace in spite of his guilt and pride.

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