German Men of ideas: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

"That is the true season of love; when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved as much before, and that no one will ever love in the same way again."

Field of Study: Romanticist, poet, playwright, philosopher, scientist.

Revolutionary Insight: The towering figure in German literature, his book The Sorrows of Young Werther was a seminal inspiration for the Romantic movement. His epic Faust inspired such artists as Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven, and Mahler. Nonfiction writing heavily influenced Hegel, Nietzsche, Jung, Darwin, and others.

Controversy Quotient (0to 5): (3) Favored a highly sexualized writing style at a time of repressive social mores; some of his poems were suppressed from publication in his lifetime. Werther, one of his first works, was criticized as glorifying suicide.

Little Known Fact: His poem Der Zauberlehrling was adapted for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment in the 1940 animated Disney film Fantasia.

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