Goethe’s creative path, which covered sixty-five years, was marked by the creation of the highest examples of poetry, prose and drama, closely related to the German cultural tradition and attained universal spiritual and aesthetic significance. This multidirectionality is one of the evidences of universality and plasticity of the Goethe genius.
The creative development of the writer was influenced by the movement “Storm and the onslaught,” which protested against the unjust social system and the desire for liberation from “paternal” dogmas and norms that fettered the natural spiritual development of the younger generation. Central to this movement was the notion of “stormy genius,” the personification of which was the young Goethe. Of great importance to the beginning poet was his communication with Herder, who inspired him with the idea of the inseparable connection of artistic creativity with the national folk cultural tradition.
Goethe’s path to the pinnacle of world literature began with poems, the work of which he was indulged in the years of his early youth. Throughout life, they wrote about 1500 poems. Discovering the different facets of the poet’s rich personality and reflecting different stages of his inner development, Goethe’s lyrics are a kind of chronicle of his spiritual autobiography.
In the second half of the 1870s, Goethe tried his hand at various literary genres. All-European
The transfer of the author of “Werther” to Weimar coincided with his departure from the “Storm and the onslaught”, by that time already showing signs of exhaustion. For Goethe, this departure meant a transition from a closed-up on the inner world of creativity to an artistic cognition of objective reality. Ten years of public service in Weimar pushed literary activity to the background, but even in such conditions, Goethe blew hours for creativity. During this period, in particular, he worked on the novel “The Writing of Wilhelm Meister,” in which he talked about the hero’s efforts to create a national theater in Germany. The image of Wilhelm was in many respects different from the passive melancholy dreamer Werther: Meister was discharged as a vigorous, active, seeking to benefit the society of a young man.
Soon after his return from Italy, Goethe entered the period of the so-called Weimar Classicism. The beginning of this stage was marked by the appearance, in particular, of the cycle “Roman Elegies” expressing a mood of ecstasy with earthly joys, as well as the educational novel “The Years of Wilhelm Meister’s Teaching,” in which a hero who knew the world overcoming his speculative notions of reality and acquiring a wise humanity in relation to people.
The main achievement of the Weimar period, as well as the entire literary work of Goethe, was the tragedy “Faust”, which embodied the results of his spiritual and artistic quest, the most important discoveries of the eighteenth-century educational thought, as well as the cultural experience of the whole epoch. Having borrowed the image of Faust from the previous literary and theatrical tradition, Goethe gave him a powerful philosophical meaning, symbolic volume and a titanic scope, thanks to which he grew into a figure embodying the very spirit of the new European civilization.
In fact, Goethe laid the foundation of all subsequent German literature, showed the possibilities of synthesizing different national cultural traditions and made a significant contribution to the establishment of the foundations of Western humanism. Predicting the further development of world literature, he paved the way for her with his creativity and showed himself as an example of a writer of world scale.