Dichtung und Wahrheit
Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (From my Life: Poetry and Truth; 1811-1833) is an autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 that comprises the time from the poet's childhood to the days in 1775, when he was about to leave for Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...



Goethe dictated schemes and drafts for Dichtung und Wahrheit, after he had finished his Theory of Colours
Theory of Colours
Theory of Colours is a work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's views on the nature of colours and how these are perceived by man, published in 1810...

, in summer 1810 in Carlsbad
Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary is a spa city situated in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá, approximately west of Prague . It is named after King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who founded the city in 1370...

. He first worked on the autobiography parallelly to his work on Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years
Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years
Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years, or the Renunciants, is the fourth novel by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the sequel to the Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship...

; since January 1811, the autobiography became the main subject of his endeavor. Goethe asked Bettina von Arnim
Bettina von Arnim
Bettina von Arnim , born Elisabeth Catharina Ludovica Magdalena Brentano, was a German writer and novelist....

 to send him the notes that she had written down about his youth on the basis of meetings she had had with his mother out of a related interest. When Bettina had complied with this wish, the poet mainly used her notes for a depiction of his mother, Aristeia der Mutter, which he did not include into the autobiography. He also asked Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich von Trebra, Karl Ludwig von Knebel
Karl Ludwig von Knebel
Karl Ludwig von Knebel , German poet and translator, born at the castle of Wallerstein in Franconia....

, and Johann Friedrich Heinrich Schlosser
Johann Friedrich Heinrich Schlosser
Johann Friedrich Heinrich Schlosser was a German jurist, writer and translator.-Life:...

 for help.

Goethe's way to show reality in Dichtung und Wahrheit

The word Dichtung (both poetry and fiction in English) has been chosen to indicate through an ingenious ambiguity that the author had, in a considerably systematic way, selected those events which he counted worthwhile to be mentioned. Goethe has also, namely regarding Friederike Brion
Friederike Brion
Friederike Elisabetha Brion was a parson's daughter who had a short, but intense love-affair with the young Johann Wolfgang Goethe.- Life :...

, created a partially fictitious image of some figures and events that necessarily would show the related figures and events more clearly than any attempt to describe them as exactly as possible, in an outward sense, could have done. Germanists have even doubted that the figure of Gretchen, that first appears as a barmaid, had at all really existed, though she reappears as the central female character Margarete resp. Gretchen in Goethe's drama Faust
Goethe's Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts: and . Although written as a closet drama, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages...



Goethe depicts his happy childhood in Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, his relationship with his sister Cornelia, and his infatuation with Gretchen. Gretchen is described as "nearly unbelievably beautiful", but Goethe also mentions that she had appeared superficial to him, when he heard she had referred to him as to a child, in the course of criminal investigations. Goethe moreover depicts his love-affairs with Anna Katharina Schönkopf
Anna Katharina Schönkopf
Anna Katharina Schönkopf and „Annette“ ; * 22 August 1746 Leipzig - 20 May 1810 ibidem) was the daughter of the pewterer and wine merchant Christian Gottlieb Schönkopf and his wife Katharina Sibylla , born Hauck...

 during his time as a student in Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, with Friederike Brion during his time in Strasburg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, and with the Frankfurt banker's daughter Lili Schönemann. Dichtung und Wahrheit also mirrors Goethe's development as a poet and partly expounds the changes in the author's thinking that were brought about by the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 and the French occupation, while other experiences throughout are presented and colored.

External links

(English translation by John Oxenford
John Oxenford
John Oxenford , English dramatist, was born at Camberwell, London, England.-Life:He began his literary career by writing on finance...


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