Sigrid Damm

Goethe and Carl August - Vicissitudes of a Friendship

(German title: Goethe und Carl August)
ca. 270 pages
Sigrid Damm
Foto: Sigrid Damm
© Ute Karen Seggelke

Sigrid Damm was born in Gotha/Thüringen and lives as a writer in Berlin and Mecklenburg. A member of P.E.N. and the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, she has received numerous recognitions and awards for her works and is the author of the bestseller, Christiane and Goethe: A History (Christiane und Goethe. Eine Recherche).

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The story of a lifelong friendship


Sigrid Damm tells the exciting story, rich in contradictions, highs and lows, personal and political vicissitudes, of the more than fifty years of friendship between Goethe and the Weimar Duke Carl August.

From June 15 onwards, the day that Goethe receives the news of his friend’s death, their two lives are explored in flashbacks. Goethe talks about their »most intimate spiritual connection«. But they do have their differences, especially political ones. Carl August, with his hatred for Napoleon; Goethe, with his admiration for Napoleon, receiving lavish flattery from the Frenchman. Goethe’s scepticism towards the liberal aspirations of his ruler, especially in regard to the freedom of the press; he calls it the »insolence of the press«. During the persecution of the demagogues in the dark times of restauration, when Carl August suffers from the restrictions of his discretion, however, Goethe openly declares his solidarity with him.

The book tells the story – as in all of Sigrid Damm’s works recreated on the basis of her meticulous research – of a unique lifelong friendship between two so very different people in terms of their professions and callings, their temperament, charisma and character, between a creative and an ambitious person, a poet and a politician; of a friendship that had momentous consequences for German literature as Carl August gave Goethe the space to create his great œuvre; without him we would not talk about Weimar as the home of German classicism.

»… He was my August and patron. There is no one I need to thank but him … « (Goethe about Carl August)

»… who … accompanied me in all vicissitudes of life … to whose prudent advice, whose lively participation and always pleasing services I owe the success of the most important enterprises.« (Carl August about Goethe)


»In her book, written with masterly skill, Sigrid Damm attests to an interrelation between mind and power whose inspired nature one might ponder in times of Trumpism.« Harro Zimmermann, Frankfurter Rundschau

Other publications

Christiane und Goethe/Christiane and Goethe (1998)

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