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Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I (of 2)   By: (1749-1832)

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Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I (of 2) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe takes readers on a transformative journey through the life of the young protagonist, Wilhelm Meister. Written in the late 18th century, this novel explores themes of self-discovery, passion, and the pursuit of one's true purpose.

The story begins by introducing us to Wilhelm, a talented and ambitious young man whose desire to pursue a career in the theater is met with resistance from his family. Determined to follow his dreams, Wilhelm leaves behind a comfortable life and embarks on a series of endeavors and travels. Along the way, he encounters a diverse array of characters, each playing a significant role in shaping his perspectives and beliefs.

Goethe's descriptive and evocative writing style breathes life into each character, making them relatable and intriguing. The characters range from artists and actors to philosophers and aristocrats, contributing to a rich tapestry of individuals who influence Wilhelm's journey. The author skillfully portrays the complexities of human nature, delving into the depths of each character's emotions and motivations.

Throughout the novel, Wilhelm grapples with various identity crises, searching for his true calling and purpose in life. As he moves from one experience to another, we witness his evolution, growth, and maturation. Goethe addresses universal themes such as love, ambition, and the struggle to find one's place in society, making the character of Wilhelm Meister deeply relatable to readers of any era.

One of the most striking aspects of the novel is Goethe's exploration of art and its significance in human life. Through Wilhelm's involvement in the theater and his encounters with artists, the author presents a thought-provoking examination of the transformative power of art and its ability to shape individuals and society. This theme adds a layer of depth to the narrative, provoking reflection on the profound impact of artistic expression.

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I (of 2) is not merely a Bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story; it is a philosophical exploration of the human experience. Goethe's masterful prose takes the reader on a captivating journey, filled with emotional intensity and intellectual stimulation. The novel invites contemplation on the nature of identity, societal expectations, and the pursuit of personal fulfillment.

Although Vol. I is part of a larger work, it can be appreciated as a standalone novel. However, readers seeking resolution to the various plot threads will need to continue into Vol. II. Goethe's craftsmanship and deep understanding of human nature make this novel a timeless masterpiece, leaving readers with a sense of awe and contemplation. Whether one seeks literary enjoyment, philosophical musings, or a combination of both, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I is a remarkable read.

First Page:


E text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Jane Robins, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (

Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by equal signs is in bold face (=bold=).

Text enclosed by underscores is in italice (=italics=).


Translated from the German of GOETHE.

by Thomas Carlyle.

Complete in Two Volumes.


New York: A. L. Burt, Publisher.



BOOK I. 15



BOOK IV. 185

BOOK V. 254

BOOK VI. 320



These two translations, "Meister's Apprenticeship" and "Meister's Travels," have long been out of print, but never altogether out of demand; nay, it would seem, the originally somewhat moderate demand has gone on increasing, and continues to increase. They are, therefore, here republished; and the one being in some sort a sequel to the other, though in rather unexpected sort, they are now printed together... Continue reading book >>

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