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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) was a German writer and polymath, widely regarded as the greatest figure in German literature. During the 1880s Schreiner wrote to both Havelock Ellis and Karl Pearson about the importance of Goethe and the influence his writings had on her thinking, as well as the influence of Goethe which she detected in their work too. She commented in 1885 to Pearson about Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister, for example, “Did Wilhelm Meister make the world seem so large & open to you when you read it the first time?” Of Goethe’s work, it was this book which influenced her most, something which is most apparent in her first-written novel Undine.

In 1914 when Schreiner travelled in Europe she went to visit Goethe’s home and the place where he had died. On this, she wrote to Ellis from Germany in June, “I went to Frankfurt today and saw Goethe’s ^?Fralhin^ - quite unchanged. The old books, Goethe’s old desk at which he wrote as a youth. It touched me infinitely more than I had ever expected - & it brought me back all my own youth when I loved him so intensely & read him so much. There is a wonderful picture pained of him just before he died - the real Goethe!”

For further information see:
Peter Boerner (2005) Goethe London: Haus
Richard Friedenthal (1965/2010) Goethe: His Life and Times New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers
Andrew Piper (2010) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe London: Hesperus
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