Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is considered Germany's foremost writer. He is most famous for Faust (1808), which is still regarded as one of the great works of world literature because it transcends national boundaries and historical periods and speaks to universal concerns. The main character, Faust (c. 1480–1540), was a real-life German astrologer, soothsayer (someone who predicts the future), and magician who was believed to have sold his soul to the devil (Satan) in order to experience all of life's pleasures.
In addition to writing Faust, Goethe learned French, English, Italian, Greek, and Hebrew and translated the works of other great writers. He was also an accomplished musician, artist, philosopher, and scientist. Goethe wrote a critique of Isaac Newton's theory of light as well as extensive study of acoustics (the science of sound).
Further Information: Gray, R. Goethe: A Critical Introduction. London: Cambridge University Press, 1967; Hohendorf, Horst. The Life and Times of Goethe. London: Hamlyn, 1967; Johann Goethe. [Online] Available http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc20.html, October 23, 2000; Johann Goethe. [Online] Available http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8725/goethebio.htm, October 23, 2000; Johann Goethe. [Online] Available http://worldroots.com/brigitte/goethe1.htm, October 23, 2000; Lange, Victor. Goethe: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1968; Mason, E. C. Goethe's Faust. Berkeley, Calf.: University of California Press, 1967.