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Journal Articles Journal of Philology and Intercultural Communication / Revue de Philologie et de Communication Interculturelle Year : 2023

Goethe and the Seven Years War

Bastian Spangenberg
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Goethe is, without any doubt, the most famous writer of the German language. His autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit (1810s), is an important book for historians, sociologists and literary scholars alike. However, his representation of the Seven Years War, a conflict that receives ever more importance in academic research, has not yet been analysed in detail. In this article, I explore Goethe's memories of this war, which I consider to be highly relevant in at least three different contexts. Firstly, Goethe´s text is a testimony to the destructive power of war on a societal level; Goethe describes how his family quarrelled during the war and the tension in his parents´ relationship at this time. Secondly, the writer demonstrates the impact of war on children and their daily routine. Fortunately for Goethe, a boy himself during the war, a number of factors prevented him from bearing the brunt of this hardship during wartime. Third, Dichtung und Wahrheit contributes to what is referred to today as the Just War Theory, especially to studies of the jus in bello. Goethe's representations are particularly insightful and relevant in that he opposes war propaganda and that he understands the crucial role of mediators during a conflict. The present article, thus, contributes to both literary studies, especially German literature, and political studies, specifically war experiences.
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hal-03946311 , version 1 (19-01-2023)
hal-03946311 , version 2 (07-09-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03946311 , version 2


Bastian Spangenberg. Goethe and the Seven Years War: Topicality and Representation of a Great Power Contest. Journal of Philology and Intercultural Communication / Revue de Philologie et de Communication Interculturelle, 2023, VII (1), pp.5-13. ⟨hal-03946311v2⟩
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