Authors Who Made History: Goethe

Yesterday was #readabookday on Twitter. As I’m still waiting for delivery of a recently purchased book – and with a love of Project Gutenberg (and other free online reading archives) I headed to their Facebook page to find I am belated in marking Goethe’s birthday anniversary (Goethe, born 28th August, 1749, died 22nd March, 1831, aged 82 years). The following autobiography by Goethe, was a fantastic find -originally translated from German and published in English in 1897 and only recently added to Project Gutenberg.

(For some reason, facebook posts, although showing in post-draft, not showing in published post, you can also find it at this link: )

I could probably spend hours over months reading about Goethe before being able to pay justice to his #authorstory. Although his is a name I’m familiar with, in the context of his work being of influence to other literary and artistic creators, I haven’t yet read enough to barely begin here. To draw upon his autobiography I might need a good while future reading time yet.

So, for your hopeful reading enjoyment, I offer you this extract from Goethe’s own autobiography:

“… we were favoured with pure ethereal mornings, when the sky displayed itself in all its magnificence, having watered the earth with superfluous dew; and that this spectacle might not become too simple, clouds after clouds piled themselves over the distant mountains, now in this spot, now in that. They stood for days, nay, for weeks, without obscuring the pure sky, and even the transient storms refreshed the country, and gave lustre to the green, which again glistened in the sunshine before it could become dry. The double rainbow, the two-coloured borders of a dark grey and nearly black streak in the sky, were nobler, more highly coloured, more decided, but also more transient, than I had ever observed.
In the midst of these objects the desire of poetising, …” [Pg 403]

“…in a condition, when the presence of silently-living nature is so beneficial to us. My eye, accustomed to discern those beauties of a landscape that suited the painter, and were above him, rioted in the contemplation of near and distant objects, of bushy rocks, of sunny heights, of damp valleys, of enthroned castles, and of the blue range of mountains inviting us from the distance….” [p485]


There are over twenty of Goethe’s illustrations included in the online file linked above and it’s fantastic to see something of his original sketches and drawings.

The public domain image shown below (not included in the above work) also seemed to reflect Goethe’s words in the selected extract:


Attribution: By Johann Wolfgang Goethe (died 1832) ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This image is captioned “Erscheinung des Erdgeistes, illustration of a scene in “Faust” by Goethe’s own hand, 1810/12 or 1819” at

In the meantime of still needing to confirm ways Goethe, as an author, ‘made history’, I contemplate his ‘Theory of Colours’ and its’ influence on the worlds of science, philosophy and art-making. Again, reading needs more time…

… and with the limits of time in mind, returning to an earlier twitter trawl for some other sign of notability of this historical figure in our contemporary, globablised times,  revealing Goethe’s memorialisation in the issue of postage stamps:

Has Goethe’s work had an influence on your own creative life? Do you see his influence in the work of other artists and writers? Do you recommend any reading about or by Goethe?

Today is #buyabook day, but apparently, it isn’t trending…

#authorstory #weekly