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Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Diaries. Historical-Critical Edition


administration/ department:
Goethe and Schiller Archive

project manager:
Dr. Wolfgang Albrecht

Run duration from 1990

As the least studied complex of his literary estate, Goethe’s diaries are now a central focus of the editorial revision of Goethe’s works at the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Preliminary work on a new historical-critical complete edition commenced in 1990, and the first double volume was released in 1998. The edition of all of Goethe’s diaries will eventually consist of thirteen double volumes, along with a volume of supplementary material and a comprehensive index. The edited text will be based on handwritten diary entries, almost all of which are stored in the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv. In contrast to the Weimar Edition which corrected errors in the text, for example, mistakes in wording or misspelled names of people and places, this edition presents the texts with their original spelling and punctuation. The text-critical apparatus provides information on all variations and their respective author. The volumes of annotations contain the history of the diaries’ reception, description of the manuscripts, the printing history and explanatory notes about the text, which also serve as a bridge to the indices.

Goethe’s diaries comprise about ten percent of his literary estate. The daily entries, which he originally penned himself and later had someone write for him, began on 11 March 1775 and ended on 16 March 1832. There are significant gaps during this period, especially in the early years. But as of 21 March 1817, every day is documented. The entries were never intended for public consumption, but only for the poet himself. This explains their monological character, the liberal choice of expression, and the extensive absence of a communicative, even appellative structure. Their content generally comprises a shorthand description of Goethe’s day; he frequently noted actions, events and incidences in elliptical form.

The edition is being produced on behalf of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar / Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv by Jochen Golz, Wolfgang Albrecht, Andreas Döhler, Sebastian Mangold and Edith Zehm. So far the double volumes 1-5 have been published.

This project is funded by the German Research Association (DFG).

Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Abteilung Editionen
Dr. Wolfgang Albrecht
Hans-Wahl-Str. 4
99425 Weimar
Tel.: +49 (0) 3643-545-277
Fax: +49 (0) 3643-545-241