Christiane von Goethe

In my previous post I published my thoughts regarding the equality of women in connection with the Life of ChristianeVulpius:

The following is another article about her Life that I just copied from Wikipedia:

“Christiane Vulpius spent her childhood in the Luthergasse, one of the oldest parts of Weimar. Her paternal ancestors were academics for several generations. On the mother’s side she came from a craftsman family. Her father Johann Friedrich Vulpius , office archivist in Weimar, d. H. File copyist, had studied law for a few semesters , but stopped studying. His job was poorly paid, the family lived in very distressed conditions, especially since the father did everything to allow the eldest son Christian August tostudy. Christiane was forced to work as a cleaning lady in a small Weimar factory with Caroline Bertuchaccept; this was a branch of Friedrich Justin Bertuch , who was not only active in the publishing business. This was all the more necessary as the father was dismissed prematurely because he was charged with an irregularity. But she was not a worker, but was one of the employed “unemployed girls of the middle classes”. From her six siblings later her brother Christian August was known as a writer of entertainment novels.

Christiane and August von Goethe, watercolor by Johann Heinrich Meyer(1793)

Memorial plaque on the house Luthergasse 5 in Weimar

Grave on the Jacobsfriedhof in Weimar

Due to various requests for help and applications Goethe knew the location of the family. On July 13, 1788, he met Christiane Vulpius himself in the park on the Ilm , where she gave him a petition for her brother Christian August. In fact, Goethe later repeatedly advocated for his future brother-in-law.

In that summer a passionate love affair developed rapidly between Goethe and Vulpius. The following year, on December 25, 1789, the first child, the son of August , was born. Four other children followed, all dying very early. The happy life and love in this conscience inspired Goethe to his most serene and erotic poems, starting with the Roman Elegies – which not only processed the amorous adventures of his first trip to Italy, but also indirectly sang Christiane – to the 1813 dedicated to his wife poem found (“I went so in the forest for myself …”).

Goethe took the young woman to his house together with her half-sister Ernestine and her aunt Juliane; their sphere of influence remained completely limited to the house and garden. The Weimar court and the society rejected the illegitimate and improper connection, so that Goethe, on the advice of the Duke, had to leave the house on the Frauenplan in the center of Weimar and temporarily move to the “Jägerhaus” on Marienstraße. The victory of the Napoleonic troops after the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt on October 14, 1806 met Weimar hard. When the city was looted by French soldiers, the house on the Frauenplan was also threatened: Christiane energetically opposed invading soldiers and was able to stop the looting until Goethe had achieved official protection by the French commander.

Even after her marriage Christiane was accepted as a “Geheimrätin von Goethe” by the Weimar society only reluctantly and hesitantly. To change the social rejection of his wife, Goethe asked the wealthy widow Johanna Schopenhauer , mother of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer , to break the barrier with an official invitation to tea. She did it with the remark: “If Goethe gives her his name, we will be able to give her a cup of tea.”

Von Goethe’s letters to her husband show a natural and common sense, but also their educational gaps. Joyful, practical and energetic, she took on the extensive household. For example, after the death of Goethe’s mother, she regulated Aja , in Frankfurt am Mainthe inheritance matters. Goethe often enjoyed social gatherings, danced with pleasure and often attended theatrical performances in Weimar, but also in other places such as. B. Bad Lauchstädt, where the Weimar Theater Society guested in the summer. Even a harmless flirt she was not averse. The correspondence with Goethe proves that he also tolerated occasional “making an apex”. Goethe possessed aesthetic sensibility and the ability to differentiate, and he was sometimes able to advise Goethe. Thus Goethe confessed that he could not and would not continue the theatrical affairs in Bad Lauchstädt without her. These were, of course, sites that remained hidden to many, even close acquaintances. But it was not completely hidden from posterity, which was expressed, among other things, in that one of the Weimar court sculptorsCarl Gottlieb Weisser’s bust of Christiane von Goethe was set up as a bronze copy in the specially erected pavilion of the spa park Bad Lauchstädt at the end of the 19th century .

As he grew older, Goethe’s state of health fluctuated. In 1815 she suffered a stroke. The following year, severe renal failure was added in severe pain. After a week of painful suffering, she died on June 6, 1816. The funeral, in which Goethe did not participate, took place at the Jacobsfriedhof Weimar . Her grave was lost for a long time and was only found again in 1888 and provided with a grave plate. She wears Goethe’s Farewell verses: “You try, O sun, in vain, / To shine through the gloomy clouds! / The whole profit of my life / Is to mourn her loss.”

One thought on “Christiane von Goethe

  1. I had read the original German version of this article. I published here the automatic translation into English. I noticed now that some of the English writing sounds rather obscure. For instance in the last paragraph it is being referred to ‘her’ health, so it should say as ‘she’ grew older . . . .

    My apologies for taking the easy way out by publishing this ‘automatic’ translation. Tell me please, if you find more obscure sections in this article.

    However, some sections seem to come out well in translation. For instance this paragraph:

    “Even after her marriage Christiane was accepted as a “Geheimrätin von Goethe” by the Weimar society only reluctantly and hesitantly. To change the social rejection of his wife, Goethe asked the wealthy widow Johanna Schopenhauer , mother of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer , to break the barrier with an official invitation to tea. She did it with the remark: “If Goethe gives her his name, we will be able to give her a cup of tea.”
    („Wenn Goethe ihr seinen Namen gibt, werden wir ihr wohl eine Tasse Tee geben können.“)

    This remark by Johanna Schopenhauer does sound quite sarcastic, don’t you think?

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