Introducing Goethe

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 2:00 AM

Today is the first day of the Frankfurt Book Fair, a global gathering of publishers, authors, and booksellers. As the publishing industry descends on Germany, we thought we'd take the opportunity to celebrate one of Germany's best known and most accomplished writers: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Ah, Goethe! When I was a schoolboy, I frankly wasn't so fond of him, or anyone else our teachers forced us to read. In fact, my classmates and I used to grumble about assignments on "dusty Johann," as we liked to call Goethe behind our teacher's back. Well, some things do change as you grow old(er), and now I understand why Goethe is often cited as one of our best German writers. His works and life continue to inspire and fascinate contemporary artists and authors, just as they inspired people in his own time. He was a strong influence on Schubert and Beethoven, both of whom were his fans.

So to celebrate this great writer, we've launched a microsite where you can explore Goethe's life, travels, and books. If you speak German, I encourage you to try it out. Using Google tools, the site lets you follow in Goethe's steps on his Italian journeys, explore his life with an interactive map display, and browse his work, whether it's prose, poetry, plays, or famous quotes. It's a fun way for Goethe fans and book lovers to learn more about Goethe's life and discover who told Faustus to "lay that damned book aside..."

If you don't speak German, don't fret. You can read about Goethe's life in his own words in The Auto-biography of Goethe. Enjoy!


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