Goethe’s collected works

Goethe 55-volume set
A 55-volume Goethe collected works set, a portion of his total 142 volume collected works set. [10]
In collected works, Goethe’s collected works refers to the collected publications of German polymath Johann Goethe, which comprises “over 140 volumes in German”, according to Princeton University Press; or “142 volumes comprise the entirety of his literary output”, according to Wikipedia, ranging from the poetical, totaling some circa 3000 poems, to the philosophical, including 50 volumes of correspondence, autobiography, novels, plays, and treatises. [1]

Goethe's personal library
Goethe, at the age of about 80, had a 5,000 book personal library.

Best book
Of his publications, Goethe’s self-defined “best book” was his 1809 Elective Affinities. [2] As summarized by American musicologist Kristina Muxfeldt, it was a “work he counted among his greatest achievements”. [3] Noted Elective Affinities critique Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) notes “the speechless irony” of a scene reported by Heinrich Laube (1806-1884): [4]

“A lady addressed Goethe on the subject of Elective Affinities: ‘I do not approve of this book at all, Herr von Goethe; it is truly immoral and I do not recommend it to any women.’—Thereupon Goethe kept a serious silence for awhile, and finally, with great civility, replied: ‘I am sorry, for it is my best book.’”
Elective Affinities
Goethe's 1809 novella Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandtschaften), original German cover, his self-defined best book (of his 142+ collected works publications); adjacent to an updated reprint ot the H.M. Waidson translation (1960, Kindred by Choice), One World Classics edition.

A fuller version of the incident, as recounted in the 1949 Goethe: the Story of a Man: Being the Life of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as Told in his Own Words and the Words of his Contemporaries, is as follows: [7]

“A women friend of mine said to Goethe at that time: ‘I cannot approve of Elective Affinities, Herr von Goethe; it really is an immoral book!’ According to her report Goethe was silent for a while and had then said with great earnestness: ‘I’m sorry you feel that way. It is my best book, and don’t think that this is the mere whim of an aging man. I grant you that one loves most deeply the child of one’s last marriage, the product of one’s late power of generation. But you wrong me and the book. The principle illustrated in the book is true and not immoral. But you must regard it from a broader point of view and understand that the conventional moral norms can turn into sheer immorality when applied to situations of this character.”

To corroborate this deep view held by Goethe that this was his greatest work, in 1827 he commented to his associate German author Johann Eckermann: [8]

“The only production of greater extent, in which I am conscious of having labored to set forth a pervading idea, is probably my Elective Affinities.

Einstein’s library
The dominant portion of German-born American physicist Albert Einstein's personal library was a 52-volume collected works set of Goethe’s publications, as recounted in 2008 by German-born American physicist Gerald Holton: [5]

“Throughout his life Einstein was a man of the book, to a much higher degree than other scientists. The remarkably diverse collection of volumes in his library grew constantly. If we look only at the German-language books published before 1910 that survived Einstein’s Princeton household, the list includes much of the cannon of the time: Boltzmann, Buchner, Friedrich Hebbel, the works of Heine in two editions, Helmholtz, von Humboldt, the many books of Kant, Gotthold Lessing, Mach, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. But what looms largest are the collected works of Johann von Goethe in a thirty-six volume edition and another of twelve volumes, plus two volumes on his Optics, the exchange of letters between Goethe and Schiller, and a separate volume of Faust.”

WorldCat Identities
According to computer cataloging of the world’s literature, as determined by WorldCat Identities, the five biggest names in world literature, excluding the names Jesus Christ (Osiris Anointed) and Mary (Isis or Stella Maris), which derive from the Egyptian Osiris-Isis resurrection story (see: comparative mythology and religion) (see also: link), are as follows:

1.ShakespeareShakespeare: 39,345 works (Hamlet #1) in 110,020 publications in 138 languages and 4,387,523 library holdings (link). WorldCat Identities top 100

2.Goethe 75 newGoethe: 26,918 works (Faust #1) in 63,794 publications in 81 languages and 698,814 library holdings (link).

3.Mozart 75Mozart: 31,429 works (Le Nozze de Figaro #1) in 103,242 publications in 65 languages and 937,666 library holdings (link).

4.Lincoln 75Lincoln: 19,904 works in 30,491 publications in 65 languages and 1,143,104 library holdings (link).

5.Bach 75Bach:26,953 works (Brandenburg concertos #1) in 87,937 publications in 41 languages and 834,142 library holdings (link).

In short, the world's two biggest authors are Shakespeare (#1) and Goethe (#2) and the greatest work of the latter is Elective Affinities, which is so far advanced for its time, that many leading scientists (physicists and chemists) of modern times, still believe that the human chemical thermodynamics theory contained in his "greatest book" is crackpottery (see: crackpot article), whereas in the correct modern physical science sense it is pure genius, a somewhat paradoxical humor, if there ever was one.

Goethe collected work (14-volumes)Goethe collected works
An 1881 (Stuttgart. J.G. Gottafchen) 15-volume collected works set of Goethe, in German. A 42-book Goethe collected works set.

The following is a image of volumes 1-20 of a Cotta 40-volue completed final collected works set: [9]
Goethe works (1-20)

The personal library of Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andric (1892-1975) has a special place in it occupied by Goethe’s collected writings in German and the collected works of Honoré de Balzac in French. [6]

1. (a) Collected Works of J.W.V. Goethe – Press.Princeton.edu.
(b) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bibliography – Wikipedia.
2. Classe, O. (2000). Encyclopedia of Literary Translations into English (quote: “my best book”, pg. 543). Taylor & Francis.
3. Muxfeldt, Kristina. (2011). Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann (pgs. 153-54). Oxford University Press.
4. (a) Benjamin, Walter. (1999). Selected Writings, Vol. 2, 1927-1934 (pg. 328), ed. Howard Eiland, Gary, Smith, and Michale W. Jennings. Harvard University Press.
(b) Walter Benjamin – Wikipedia.
(c) Heinrich Laube – Wikipedia.
5. Galison, Peter, Holton, Gerald J., and Schweber, Silvan S. (2008). Einstein for the 21st Century: His Legacy in Science, Art, and Modern Culture (ch. 1: Who Was Einstein? Why is He Still so Alive?, pgs 3-15; quote: pg. 10). Princeton University Press.
6. (a) Authentic Interior of Ivo Andric’s Study – Belgrade City Museum.
(b) Ivo Andric – Wikipedia.
7. Lewisohn, Ludwig. (1949). Goethe: the Story of a Man: Being the Life of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as Told in his Own Words and the Words of his Contemporaries, Volume 2 (pg. 174). Farrar Straus and Co.
8. (a) Tantillo, Astrida, O. (2001). Goethe’s Elective Affinities and the Critics ("Conversations with Eckermann" (06 May 1827) pgs. 154-57). New York: Camden House.
(b) Conversations with Goethe (Gespräche mit Goethe) – Wikipedia.
9. (a) Goethe, Johann. (date). Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand. 1.-40. Bd. Stuttgart u. Tübingen, Cotta'schen Buchhandlung, 1827-30.
(b) Goethe, Johann. (date). Works. Complete final edition. 1st-40. Vol Stuttgart and Tübingen, Cotta bookstore, 1827-30.
10. (a) Goethe, Johann. (date). Goethe, by JV. Goethe's works (link), Stuttgart / Tübingen 1828ff, complete final edition, 55 volumes, half leather.
(b) Goethe, von JV. Goethes Werke, Stuttgart / Tübingen 1828ff, komplette letzte Ausgabe, 55 Bände, halb Leder

External links
Goethe: Biography and complete works – BooksFactory.com.

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