From My Life: Poetry and Truth -Index


Webpage Intro I - Edition Statement, Title Page, Verso, pages v-vii

Webpage Intro II - pages vii-xiii

Webpage Intro III - pages xiv-xix

Webpage Intro IV - pages xx-xxvi

From My Life: Poetry and Truth

Webpage 1: pages 1-6, Preface

  • A letter from a fictional friend, suggesting Goethe write a biography.
  • Decisions on how to write a biography.

Webpage 2: pages 7-12, First Book

  • Descriptions of his childhood home, his family, and his friends.

Webpage 3: pages 13-18

  • A puppet show on Christmas, 1753.
  • Reconstruction of the family home.
  • Roaming the streets and districts of Frankfurt.
  • A description of the town hall.

Webpage 4: pages 19-24

  • Descriptions of Frankfurt's seasonal festivities and their histories - Escort Day, the Pipers' Court.

Webpage 5: pages 25-30

  • Description of two rural festivals.
  • A description of Goethe's father's library and art collection.
  • The earthquake of Lisbon, November 1, 1755.

Webpage 6: pages 31-36

  • Reflections on a wrathful god.
  • Young Goethe's relationship to his father
  • Early education and first attempts at writing poetry

Webpage 7: pages 37-42

  • Books Goethe read
  • Smallpox
  • Sibling deaths
  • A description of Goethe's maternal grandparents

Webpage 8: pages 43-48

  • The grandfather's gift of prophecy.
  • Descriptions of his maternal aunts.
  • Religious education and Goethe's reaction to organized religion
  • Young Goethe's altar

Webpage 9: pages 49-54, Second Book

  • The outbreak of the Seven Years War and the dispute between members of Goethe's family
  • Young Goethe learns stage direction and design while staging for his grandmother's puppet theater

Webpage 10: pages 55-60

  • A Goethe fairytale - The New Paris: A Boy's Tale

Webpage 11: pages 61-66

  • A Goethe fairytale - The New Paris: A Boy's Tale (continued)

Webpage 12: pages 67-72

  • A Goethe fairytale - The New Paris: A Boy's Tale (continued)

Webpage 13: pages 73-78

  • A Goethe fairytale - The New Paris: A Boy's Tale (concluded)
  • A failed exercise in Stoicism
  • Parental expectations vs. real-life experiences
  • Reflections on Goethe's paternal grandfather and questions of lineage

Webpage 14: pages 79-84

  • How environment affects human potential
  • Goethe's father's rise in government
  • Tales of other distinguished Frankfurt citizens

Webpage 15: pages 85-90

  • Reformers, financial upheaval and social unrest

Webpage 16: pages 91-96

  • The influence of Klopstock's Messiah
  • The Third Book begins with New Years Day, 1859. The Seven Year War (1756-1763) continues and the French Army moves into Frankfurt to prevent possible occupation by Prussian troops.
  • The French King's Lieutenant, Count Thorane, is billeted in the Goethe house, much to the displeasure of young Geothe's father.

Webpage 17: pages 97-102

  • Count Thorane gathers and commissions the painters of Frankfurt.

Webpage 18: pages 103-108

  • Young Goethe's introduction to the French theater.
  • Befriending the son of a French actor.

Webpage 19: pages 109-114

  • Heute rot, Morgan tot! (Today red, tomorrow dead) is the German equivalent to "Here today, gone tomorrow."
  • The Battle of Bergen and the defeat of the Prussians.

Webpage 20: pages 115-120

  • An argument between Goethe's father and the Count leads to threats of confinement in the guardhouse.

Webpage 21: pages 121-126

  • Further notes on the character of Count Thorane.
  • Young Goethe's continued interest in the French theater leads to reproaches by his father, who believes theater is a waste of time.
  • First attempt to write a French drama.

Webpage 22: pages 127-132

  • Studies in French theater theory
  • Changes in the Count's behavior - having the artists add features to each other's work
  • The paintings are shipped and the Count moves to new quarters by the summer of 1761.

Webpage 23: The Fourth Book, pages 133-138

  • Drawing and music lessons.
  • Dissection, magnetism, and electricity.
  • Mistrust of public education.

Webpage 24: Pages 139-144

  • Establishment of a boarding school.
  • Harpicord and piano.
  • Raising silkworms.
  • Cleaning wall hangings.
  • Learning English.
  • Young Goethe's first attempt at a novel written in German, Latin, ancient Greek, French, Italian, English and Yiddish.

Webpage 25: Pages 145-150

  • Learning Hebrew
  • "A human being may change his path whenever he wishes and he may undertake any task he chooses, but eventually he will return to the course which nature intends him to follow." - bottom of p.150

Webpage 26: Pages 151-156

  • Study of the Old Testament as an early history of humanity.

Webpage 27: Pages 157-162

  • The development of natural religion and class destinction as functions of history, tradition and environment.
  • The stories of Abraham, Esau,and Jacob.

Webpage 28: Pages 163-168

  • Writing as a means to internal peace, p.164: While engaged in imagination each fairytale would bear witness to a truth, tranporting me here and there when the mixture of fable and fact, mythology and religion threated to confuse me.

Webpage 29: Pages 169-174

  • Introduction to law studies.
  • Instruction in fencing and horsemanship.
  • The last of the French troops leave Frankfurt February 27, 1763.
  • The Revolt of 1614 and the last of 4 heads impaled on the bridge tower.

Webpage 30: Pages 175-180

  • Description of the Jewish Quarter.
  • The burning of a French comic novel.
  • Visiting tradesmen and developing a theory of human existence, p.178: Naked existence was a primal condition while everything else seemed extraneous and accidental.
  • Dealing with local artists Lautensack and Juncker.

Webpage 31: Pages 181-186

  • Local artist Nothnagel's oilcloth factory.
  • Goethe's father's vinyard and the connection between the environment and its people, p.184: There is no question that just as wine imparts a freer character to the region in which it is grown and consumed, so too the the wine harvest spreads an incredible joy to the days in which summer ends and winter begins.
  • February 15, 1763: The signing of the Hubertsberg Treaty.Men, who influenced young Goethe.

Webpage 32: Pages 187-192, The Fifth Book

  • More tales of old men and acquaintanceship with contemporaries.

Webpage 33: Pages 193-198

  • Adolescent Goethe writes poetry and letters for his friends.
  • The introduction of Gretchen, Goethe's first love.

Webpage 34: Pages 199-204

  • Gretchen warns Goethe that his letter writing may get him in trouble
  • Reflections on the transforming power of love

Webpage 35: Pages 205-210

  • Gretchen's cousins ask Goethe to recommend one of their friends to his grandfather for a mid-level government position.
  • Gretchen working in a milliner's shop.

Webpage 36: Pages 211-216

  • The election of a Holy Roman Emperor, October 1763.
  • Descriptions of the events and people.

Webpage 37: Pages 217-222

  • Description of the perfect relationship between a man and woman.
  • Arrival of the Electors in Frankfurt, March 1764.

Webpage 38: Pages 223-228

  • The election of Joseph II.
  • The procession of the nobles into Frankfurt.

Webpage 39: Pages 229-234

  • Reminisces on the election of Francis I.
  • Coronation day, April 3, 1764.

Webpage 40: Pages 235-240

  • Details on the events in celebration of the coronation.

Webpage 41: Pages 241-246

  • Young Goethe observes at the emperor's feast the presence of the clerical electors but the abscence of the lay electors, thus noticing the political tension beneath the coronation.
  • The Illumination Festival, in which houses in Frankfurt were lit up at night.

Webpage 342: Pages 247-252

  • The last time young Goethe sees Gretchen.
  • Investigation into possible wrongdoings.

Webpage 43: Pages 252-256

  • Young Goethe's anxiety over his friends and subsequent dispondency.


Notes 1: pages 257-263

  • Includes Goethe's family tree on page 261 plus notes for pages 1-21.

Notes 2: pages 264-269

  • Notes to pages 22-76

Notes 3: pages 270-275

  • Notes to pages 78-117

Notes 4: pages 276-281

  • Notes to pages 117-151

Notes 5: pages 282-287

  • Notes to pages 151-176

Notes 6: pages 288-293

  • Notes to pages 178-224

Notes 7: pages 294-296

  • Notes to pages 228-256

Text provided by the Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks

Project begun May 17, 2009; project completed December 12, 2011.