Today in German History: March 22, 1832

On March 22nd of 1832, John Wolfgang von Goethe died. Goethe was first and foremost a writer, and wrote many books, plays, poems, and letters. Famous works of his include the drama Faust, not to be confused with Doctor Faustus by Marlowe. Many of Goethe’s works fall under the Sturm und Drang, thunder and lighting, literary movement. Goethe was famous for his literature and was even made a noble by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Goethe also took on a political role when he sat on that Duke’s Privy Council, a group of advisers. During his tenure on the Privy Council, he instituted reforms to the University of Jena and oversaw the construction of several buildings. Goethe also wrote multiple scientific treatises, including ones on biology and anatomy. A modern equivalent to Goethe would be a celebrity, maybe a famous actor or possibly a musician, who becomes widely respected for their work and involves themselves in politics and other subjects beyond their initial focus. Leonardo DiCaprio’s speeches to the UN on climate change are something of an example of this. In our era, literary celebrities have been replaced by pop and movie stars, but the trope of enlightened celebrity becoming involved in politics still exits.

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