I can only read books, watch films and listen to music made by persons I like, or, at least, do not dislike. Thus, I only managed not throwing away anything by or with The Smashing Pumpkins, Michael Douglas, ... by closing my eyes and sticking my fingers into my ears whenever any information about their personal lives crossed my way.
Unfortunately, I couldn't do that with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I read Faust just out of interest when I was 17, I didn't like it1, but it was kind of intriguing. Anyway, then we read it at school one time, I had to read it for my Abitur another time, plus..., plus a Goethe biography, and since then I get pimples when anyone (I guess it’s pretty specific for my country, so it’s not of world interest, or of any) tries to impress anyone by giving him the Goethe knockout.
When he was a teenager, he wrote an extraordinarily painful poem, in Hessian, about drowning himself because his one and only true love left him. But wait, oh, hey, there she goes, his second one and only true love! Even the fact that the second one had the same first name as I do didn’t help, and the third one and only probably was just off to get him some lemonade.
Well, he was only 17, everyone ages and matures, as he had when Faust was published and naivete was substituted by megalomania. Yeah, Faust‘s
prepar'd to fly
By a new track through ether's wide dominion
O'er pine-crown'd height the eagle soars0,
but for longing for this in a German Middle Age town, you must first find the time to become an over-educated, frustrated scholar while still pickling and canalizing your teenage wet dreams.
Apropos, Gretchen seemed to be the type of woman he liked,
admiring, obedient and fainting when confronted with jewelry, and, as a compensation for his tragic almost-death in the water, dying for him in turn. Well, he shoulnd’t be begrudged on this, as for real life Goethe, his love affairs must have been so dissatisfying that he kept two simultaneously a lot of the time.
Nevermind... He was a classical period genius, he brought up the ideals of Ancient Greece, he sent Iphigenia to Aulis... Which he did, but he also sent a woman who killed her own child to execution2... Huh, this reminds me of something. Now, there’s a humanist!
I know he was a humanist, I know he was an innovator concerning tolerance, humanity, equality, he was a scientist as well as a great poet and so on... but not even in Germany anyone has to drop dead immediatly when being grazed by a „but Goethe wrote...“. I still don’t know what’s the great thing about the meaning of Faust. And besides, there’s still Heinrich Heine, he was a nice guy.3
0Taken from http://promo.net/pg.
1Well, I liked Mephistopheles. So Satan was allright.
2Actually, he was in a secret committee founded by duke Carl August in Weimar which was to decide whether or not the woman, Anna Catharina Höhn, should be executed, which was agreed to by Goethe. She was beheaded on November 28, 1783. (Taken from http://www.morgenwelt.de/kultur/9908-christiane.htm.)
3 He wasn’t. He made himself an uncountable amount of enemies, and in his spare time, he was a melancholic boozer who had several favourite brothels all over Europe. But he was right, and at least he didn’t sit down to write a new tragedy every time a pigeon took a shit on his head.