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Hermann und Dorothea, Goethe, Uncommon, Illustrated by Arthur von Ramberg, 1874


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Hermann und Dorothea

Mit acht Bildern von Arthur von Ramberg, nach den Original-Ölgemälden photographirt von Franz Hanfstängl und Initialen von Friedrich Baumgarten.

by J. W.Goethe

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Eight pictures of Arthur von Ramberg, according to the original oil paintings photographed by Franz Hanfstaengl and initials of Friedrich Baumgarten



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Publisher:  G. Grote`sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin

Copyright:  1874

About the poem

Hermann and Dorothea is an epic poem, an idyll, written by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe between 1796 and 1797, and was to some extent suggested by Johann Heinrich Voss’s Luise, an idyll in hexameters, which was first published in 1782-84.

Hermann, son of the wealthy innkeeper in a small town near Mainz, is sent by his mother to bring clothes and food to the refugees which have set up camp near their town. They have fled their villages on the western side of the Rhine river now occupied by French revolutionary troops, in order to seek refuge on the eastern side. On his way to the camp, Hermann meets Dorothea, a young maid who assists a woman in her childbed on her flight. Overwhelmed by her courage, compassion, and beauty, Hermann asks Dorothea to distribute his donations among her poor fellow refugees.

Back home, he reveals his affection to his parents. His father brushes away his timid confession, reminding him bluntly that he wants Hermann to choose a wife from a respected local family with a generous dowry. He goes on to express his deep disappointment with Hermann’s perceived lack of ambition to move forward in life, and lectures him about how he should become a respected citizen.

After Hermann has left in despair, his mother utters the following timelessly wise and deeply moving verses:

Immer bist du doch, Vater, so ungerecht gegen den Sohn! und So wird am wenigsten dir dein Wunsch des Guten erfüllet. Denn wir können die Kinder nach unserem Sinne nicht formen; So wie Gott sie uns gab, so muß man sie haben und lieben, Sie erziehen aufs beste und jeglichen lassen gewähren. Denn der eine hat die, die anderen andere Gaben; Jeder braucht sie, und jeder ist doch nur auf eigene Weise Gut und glücklich.

Why will you always, father, do our son such injustice? That least of all is the way to bring your wish to fulfillment. We have no power to fashion our children as it suits our will; As they are given by God, so we must have them and love them; teach them as best we can, and let each of them follow his nature. One will have talents of one sort, and different talents another. Every one uses his own; in his own individual fashion, each must be happy and good.

Hermann’s mother goes after her son and finally finds him in a far corner of their garden. Having been shaken to tears by his father’s harsh words, Hermann tells his mother that he intends to marry Dorothea or else to stay bachelor for the rest of his life. His mother understands the sincerity and depth of his affections and decides to help him obtain his father’s permission.

Condition:  Red, embossed, decorative boards with elaborate gilt design. Damage to spine, bumped corners, rubbed edges. Page edges have gold gilt. Interior has extensive foxing and browning as shown in pictures, but photographic plates are clean. Very heavy endpages with some moisture signs. Lovely typographic detail. German language.

Oversized: 15″ x 11″, 67 pages on heavy stock

Additional Information

Weight 4.3125 lbs
Dimensions 18 x 14 x 1 in
Country/Region of Manufacture


Year Printed




Special Attributes



Literature & Fiction




Fine Binding

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