Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Tasso

(1720 words)

Goethe originally based his play about the Italian Renaissance poet Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) on a biography by Giovanni Batista Manso (Vita die Torquato Tasso, 1621). He drafted the first and second act of Tasso in prose in 1780-81, but this version has been lost. During his trip to Italy Goethe replaced the prose text with a new version in iambic pentameter. After Goethe had read Pierantonio Serassi's biography of Tasso (1785), the play's focus shifted from the relationship between Tasso and the princess to the precarious position of the artist within courtly society. Goethe was able to draw on his personal experiences at the Weimar court in this dramatization of the artist's emotional and …

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Mathäs, Alexander. "Tasso". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 October 2005
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]