By common consent, Goethe (1749-1832) is Germany’s greatest literary author and the foremost exponent of Weimar classicism, a brief but highly productive period in early post-Enlightenment letters and culture. In 2001, UNESCO added Goethe’s literary estate to its Memory of the World register. This outstanding recognition wouldn’t have been possible without the long-term efforts, institutionalized in the Goethe and Schiller Archive, Germany’s oldest, and arguably most renowned, literary archive, to properly preserve, restore, catalog, digitalize, and edit its holdings. Dr. Fischer’s lecture will focus on one of the archive’s finest treasures: Goethe’s collections of autographs. Still largely unexplored, the collection sheds new light on Goethe's intellectual and literary development as well as on the cultural habits of his time. It also relates in many interesting ways to the wider archive that, in addition to Goethe’s and Schiller’s literary remains, holds about 130 estates of writers, scholars, philosophers, composers and artists, among them Herder, Nietzsche, and Franz Liszt, 14 archives of publishing houses, associations and literary societies, as well as an autograph collection with items by some 3,000 hands.
Presented by the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.