Goethe: Life as a Work of Art by David Dollenmayer

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A masterful intellectual portrait, Goethe: Life as a Work of Art is celebrated as the seminal twenty-first-century biography of the writer considered to be the Shakespeare of German literature. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), a remarkably prolific poet, playwright, novelist, and—as Rüdiger Safranksi emphasizes—a statesman and naturalist, first awakened not only a burgeoning German nation but the European continent with his electrifying novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Safranski has scoured Goethe’s entire oeuvre, relying exclusively on primary sources, including his correspondence with contemporaries, to produce a “fresh and authentic” (Economist) portrait of the avatar of the Romantic era. Skillfully blending “artistic analysis with swift, sharp renderings” of the great political and intellectual figures Goethe encountered, “[Safranski’s] portrait of the prolific genius leaves the reader with lasting awe, even envy” of a monumental legacy (The New Yorker). As Safranski ultimately shows, Goethe’s greatest creation, even in comparison to his masterpiece Faust, was his own life.

Liveright, 2017.
ISBN: 9781631494895. 651 pp.
Translated by David Dollenmayer.
Softcover. Near fine.