The Enlightenment features prominently in the collection and is in sharp contrast with the small cabinet devoted to the 16th century. With the revival of the occult sciences, astrology, alchemy, magic and the terrible Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which followed the wars of religion (1562-1593), the 16th century marked the transition from the medieval world to the modern age.
The most noteworthy works of the Enlightenment are:
The French Revolution is represented with works by its spiritual fathers Rousseau (Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, The Social Contract, in Complete Works, 1774-1783) and Beaumarchais (The Marriage of Figaro, 1785).
Other manuscripts pertinent to the Revolution are presented in such a way as to highlight the contrasts among them:
Martin Bodmer placed Goethe and the spirit of Weimar at the heart of his ‘spiritual edifice’. Two cabinets are devoted to Goethe’s works. The first, shared with Mozart, is dedicated to two great myths: Faust and Don Juan. There are many texts around the Faust myth:
Don Juan is present in Molière’s Festin de Pierre (Feast of the Statue), and the original score of Don Giovanni of 1801.
The second cabinet contains original works by Schiller (Demetrius) and Goethe who, with Wieland and Herder, are the great authors of German classicism. The manuscripts are exhibited under a painting of Goethe as a child with his sister Cornelia (Avril, Cycle des saisons). Goethe is also present in the display of 18th-century novels and short stories (see his 1805 translation of the Neveu de Rameau by Diderot), and the display on Napoleon (Werther).