The Davenport & Company Lecture
The German author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is known to most of the English-speaking world as the author of Faust, the story of a scholar, who, disillusioned with the course of his life, and seeking new directions to the truth, turns in frustration to the Devil and enters a compact with him. It is one of numerous plays that he wrote, along with hundreds of poems, and four major path-breaking novels.
His first major dramatic work was Goetz von Berlichingen, which immediately catapulted him into the forefront of the movement known as "Storm and Stress." Similarly, his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, was such a sensation that for much of Goethe's life he was known as the author of Werther. He was also known outside the world of belles lettres for his writings on scientific topics as diverse as color theory, plant and animal morphology, and geology.
Duke Karl August appointed him chief minister of state, the highest official after the duke himself in the duchy of Weimar. During his lifetime Goethe enjoyed close personal and intellectual relationships with many women who were important for his development as an artist and a man. The body of work of this universal genius fills more than 133 volumes in the Weimar edition of his collected works.
For further reading on Goethe, see an op-ed by Sammy Merrill, published in the Free Lance-Star.
Speaker: Sammy Merrill
A North Carolinian by birth, Sammy Merrill graduated from Wake Forest in 1963. He earned the M.A. in German from Duke in 1966. He subsequently studied for a year at the Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet in Munich and completed graduate studies with the Ph. D. in German from Cornell in 1972. He taught German language, literature, and culture at Wake Forest, Cornell, and Mary Washington for 36 years, prior to being named UMW Professor Emeritus of German upon his retirement in 2004.