JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, one of Germany’s greatest men of letters, was born in Frankfurt am Main on 28th August 1749 “as the clock struck twelve noon”, he tells us in his autobiography. His father was relatively well off, with a large house containing an extensive library and works of art by local artists. Goethe’s early education took place at home, at the hands of his father and several tutors, and he became fluent in Italian, French and English as well as his native German. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the new poetry, which expressed powerful emotions through unconventional ...


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