When the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) lapsed into insanity in 1889, he had little conception of the fame and controversy his works would come to attract. Initially influential on writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Thomas Mann, his ideas would be misappropriated by the Nazis in the 1930s to support their policies on anti-Semitism, nationalism and warfare. It would be some years, and with the benefit of better translations, before his works would become more properly evaluated.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832) is widely acknowledged as the greatest writer of the German tradition. He began writing his masterpiece, the play ‘Faust’, at the age of twenty-three, and finished the second part just before his death. Building on an old legend of the scholar who makes a pact with the devil, Mephistopheles, his work has had an enduring reputation and influence.
Karl Marx (1818 – 1883). Generally considered to be the least funny of the Marx Brothers.
Friedrich Engels (1820 – 1895) was a German writer, and a close friend and collaborator with Karl Marx. On moving to England, he was shocked by the poverty he found, which resulted in ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’. He co-operated with Marx in writing ‘The Communist Manifesto’, and after Marx’s death, Engels assembled the second and third volumes of ‘Das Kapital’.
The Brothers Grimm – Jacob (1785 – 1863) and Wilhelm (1786 – 1859) are now known for ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’, a collection of German folk tales that are now known and loved throughout the world.
Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831) was a Prussian professional soldier, who achieved fame as a military theorist, and his classic work, ‘On War’, has become one of the most inflential books on the philosophy of warfare.