Lotte Kestner may have visited Goethe in Weimar in 1816 and Thomas Mann may have imagined the outcomes in his novel, Lotte in Weimar, but Lizzy spent 4 wonderful days there last summer.  It was, and will no doubt remain, the highlight of 2013.  So to end German Literature Month III on a high, let me recreate it in an A-Z.  Albeit an incomplete A-Z, one which will be completed when I return next summer!

Anna Amalia Behind every good man is a good woman and it appears that behind all the literary giants that inhabited 18th and early 19th century Weimar stood patroness of the arts, the Grand Duchess Anna Amalia, whose library is one of the wonders of the modern world (imo).

Many of the books in this beautiful library were originally owned by Goethe and Schiller.  In order to protect these fragile treasures, only 50 visitors are allowed in on a daily basis.  You have to be up bright and early to nab yourself a ticket!

Bauhaus A craft and fine arts movement, founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar.

I should really talk about Weimar Classicism but I found myself more fascinated by Charlotte  von Lengefeld (Schiller’s wife), Charlotte von Stein (Goethe’s lover), and Christiane Vulpius (Goethe’s mistress for 18 years before becoming his wife.)

Dumplings (Thuringian) Served with almost everything.  Very tasty with black beer stew!

Eckermann Goethe’s secretary and fellow fan of Weimar.  Penned the following,  which is my poem of the month.

Glücklich Weimar! – Von den Städten allen
Bist du, Kleine, wunderbar bedacht;
Man wird stets zu deinen Toren wallen,
Angezogen von der heil’gen Macht;
Und man wird nach großen Männern fragen,
Die in schönen Zeiten hier gestrebt,
Und mit edlem Neid wird man beklagen,
Dass man mit den Edlen nicht gelebt.

Frauenplan 1 Perhaps the most famous address in Weimar?  Who lived in a house like this for over 50 years?


None other than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe The colossus of German literature who also left an indelible stamp on the city of Weimar itself.

Johann Gottfried Herder Philosopher, theologian, poet and literary critic.  His literary theories influenced Goethe to develop his own literary style … The rest they say is history.

The river Ilm which flows through Weimar and is surrounded by the beautiful Park an der Ilm, designed by Goethe.

As Weimar launched its summer festival, I was lucky enough to spend a lovely sunny evening attending an open-air jazz concert in the market square.

Bernd Köstering has written a crime trilogy set in Weimar.  Not translated into English.   I hope to read the first two before returning to Weimar to pick up the third.

The Liszt School of Music was a source of unending delight.  Music of all kinds to be heard whenever passing by and with benches conveniently situated outside its walls, it was possible to enjoy many free mini-concerts.  The jazz concert I attended was given by students from this school.

The Market place is a veritable suntrap and is surrounded by drinking establishments of one kind or another, which makes it a perfect place for meeting up, sunning oneself and chilling down with a cool beer all at the same time.

Napoleon Bonaparte passed through Weimar in 1806 and played a not insignificant part in persuading Goethe to marry his mistress.  See V.

Ottilie – a character in Goethe’s Elective Affinities, based on Minna Herzlieb, an 18 year old girl with whom Goethe fell in love in 1807 when he was 58 and married for only one year.  Hmmmm….

Pushkin I need to find out more about how a bust of Pushkin comes to reside opposite the home of Charlotte von Stein …

Here’s a question for you?   What is Goethe doing with Schiller’s Skull?  I’ll leave you to research that but if you find the answer you’ll discover that Schiller’s coffin which lies next to Goethe’s in the ducal vault does not contain his bones at all.

Residenz am Schloß The oldest cafe in Weimar and a favourite watering hole of mine.

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller who lived in a house like this.

Weimar 2013

It’s not as grand as Goethe’s abode but had he lived beyond the age of 45, he may have acquired similar standing and wealth.  I always felt that Schiller had the potential to transcend Goethe’s brilliance.  Their relationship became a genuine friendship (despite Schiller’s cruelty to Goethe’s mistress) and Goethe was gutted when Schiller died.

The centre of Weimar is testimony to this friendship,  with the iconic statue of the two men dominating the Theaterplatz.

U – Pass.

Christiane Vulpius, Goethe’s live-in mistress for 18 years and mother of his 5 children,  of which only one survived to adulthood.  He married her in 1806 only after her quick thinking saved his life after their house was pillaged by Bonaparte’s troops in 1806.  Even then she could not go into society with him.  She was not his social equal and was despised and rejected by the Weimar court.  But Goethe must have been fond of her (despite his womanising ways – see O). He wept bitterly upon her death in 1816.  Upon which, Schiller’s widow commented: “It grieves me that he should shed tears for such objects.”  That must be a contender for catty comment of the century.

The Thuringian Rotbratwurst is another tasty treat and the proportions of the sausage in this picture are not exaggerated in the least.

X – another pass, although that won’t surprise you.

Y can I not find an entry for this letter?

And finally. Stefan Zweig’s reaction to visiting Goethe’s House  in October 1922.

Dann – ins Goethehaus … ich möchte ein Jahr hier bleiben, … Und alles bis ins Letzte lesen und studieren.

and then to Goethe’s house … I’d like to stay here for a year  … And read and study everything in the finest detail (translation mine)

Precisely.  Expect a number of Weimar related reads between now and next summer.