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PROPYLÄEN – Research Platform on Goethe’s Biographica

Under the direction of the Literature Studies scholar Prof. Dr. Klaus Manger (University of Jena), Prof. Dr. Ernst Osterkamp (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Dr. Bernhard Fischer, director of the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar, the project supports research activities at the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar and the Freies Deutsches Hochstift in Frankfurt am Main. The planned duration of the project is 25 years.

The PROPYLÄEN project plans to accomplish two goals. First, it will build an integrated research platform on Goethe’s life, influence and works based on the multifaceted, catalogued collection of Goethe’s biographica. The platform will be made accessible to members of the scientific community, as well as the general public.

Secondly, researchers will continue and conclude work on the historic-critical editions of Goethe’s letters and diaries currently underway at the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv, specifically the complete, supplemented, indexed edition of letters to Goethe and the edition of Goethe’s “Begegnungen und Gesprächen” (Encounters and Discussions).

PROPYLÄEN. Edition projects

Goethe’s letters

This long-term revision project of the Weimar Edition involves producing a historic-critical edition of the complete collection of Goethe’s letters.

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Goethe’s diaries

As part of the editorial revision of Goethe’s works, the current edition programme at the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv also focuses on investigating Goethe’s diaries – a complex of Goethe’s literary estate which until now has received the least amount of attention.

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Indexed edition of letters to Goethe

The indexed edition will provide an overview of more than 20,000 letters to Goethe and make them available for various research purposes. The collection contains over 20,000 pieces of correspondence (not including official correspondence) written by some 3,350 individuals.

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Encounters and Discussions

Goethe’s “Encounters and Discussions” (“Begegnungen und Gespräche”) are important biographical sources for Goethe researchers as they present depictions of the poet from the point of view of his contemporaries. This revision project uses Biedermann’s 3rd edition for orientation, but in terms of its pool of sources, far exceeds the scope of the older edition.

The entire collection will contain approximately 18,800 documents compared to the 7,522 documents in Biedermann’s third edition as listed in Grumach’s finished edition. For example, vol. 6 includes an additional 560 printed and 675 unprinted documents along with the 811 documents from the years 1806 to 1808, printed in the Biedermann Edition. The collection will also integrate Goethe’s own reports and notes of his discussions in chronological order.

Technical implementation of the research platform

The Digital Academy, coordinated and supervised by the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, is responsible for implementing the electronic components of the project, whereby the abovementioned editions of the biographica will be added in chronological order.

The research platform aims to develop new ways to access the complete collection, allowing researchers and the culturally-interested public to study documents from Goethe’s life in yet unprecedented detail and scope. To this end, the project will gradually implement various search methods, visualisations and links to external resources.

PROPYLÄEN is designed to incorporate other source materials and research findings, and will serve as an innovative forum in the digital age for the entire field of Goethe research.

More about PROPYLÄEN at the Frankfurt Goethe-Haus
More about PROPYLÄEN at the Digital Academy


Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Dr. Bernhard Fischer
Jenaer Str. 1
99425 Weimar
Phone: +49 (0) 3643-545-240
Fax: +49 (0) 3643-545-241