Goethe and France12 November 2016 – 23 April 2017
Martin Bodmer placed Goethe high in his personal hall of fame and at the center of his collection, one of the most important in the world. In many ways he owed the very concept of Weltliteratur to this towering figure. Goethe was familiar with French culture from very early on. Like many of his contemporaries of feudal and aristocratic Europe, he too felt the shock of the French Revolution, and his participation in the failed campaign against the Revolutionary forces (the Battle of Valmy in 1792) was a trauma that marked him for the rest of his days.
Taking off from the many Goethean gems in the Collection, the exhibition shows the extent to which a complex and ambivalent “French question” deeply influenced Goethe’s output for some sixty years...