Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Jeremy Adler

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Jeremy Adler

Distributed for Reaktion Books

256 pages | 48 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4
Paper $19.00 ISBN: 9781789141986 Published April 2020 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $19.00 ISBN: 9781789142532 Published March 2020 For sale in North and South America only
This new critical biography provides a complete picture of German novelist, playwright, and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Offering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of all Goethe’s major works, including novels such as The Sorrows of Young Werther and The Elective Affinities, plays such as Egmont and Iphigenia in Tauris, and Goethe’s greatest work, Faust, Jeremy Adler also provides many original readings of Goethe’s poetry, beginning with the poems written in his early youth. Alongside Goethe’s work, Adler analyzes the incidents of his life, including his love affairs and his meetings with the luminaries of his age, such as Napoleon Bonaparte. Uniquely, Adler also shows how Goethe’s encyclopedic interest in literature, science, philosophy, law, and many other fields became important for a wide range of later scientists and thinkers. Among the figures he influenced were Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim and Susan Sontag. Goethe has often been called the last Renaissance man. This biography shows that Goethe was in fact the first of the moderns—a maker of modernity.
Contents
Introduction

1 The Birth of a Poet
2 Sturm und Drang
3 First Years in Weimar
4 The Italian Turn
5 The Classical Centre
6 The Intellectual Capital of the World
7 The Faustian Age

References
Select Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Review Quotes
Art Newspaper
“Goethe was a polymath, not least in the areas of art history and criticism, who combined practical abilities as a draughtsman, painter and scientist. Adler focuses on Goethe’s influence on modernity.”
Times Literary Supplement
"Adler's aim . . . goes beyond giving an overview of the world that made Goethe (the Enlightenment, Leibniz, Spinoza). Its larger subject is Goethe's impact on shaping modernity itself. . . . Each chapter suggests an astonishing variety of individuals and concepts that Goethe's writings are said to anticipate. Entire books have been devoted to the influence on figures from Karl Marx to Oswald Spengler, but Adler includes references to the structure of the double helix, chaos theory, modern sociology, labor under capitalism and Impressionism, to name just a few. . . . Adler's extensive endnotes show how far and wide he has ranged to make the case for Goethe being our forebear in these areas. As he writes, it is no accident that we speak of the Age of Goethe."
Camden New Journal
"An erudite and at the same time passionate book on Goethe. It offers the general reader a highly stimulating opportunity to be introduced to his life and work, especially the latter. . . . An exciting and brilliant book. Such scholarship and passion are not often found together. They are a great gift to any reader."
Theodore Ziolkowski, Princeton University
“Beyond its lively biographical account and incisive readings of Goethe’s major works, the true originality of Adler’s brilliant contribution lies in its impressive contextual background and often startling insights, which only a scholar steeped not only in literary and philosophical history but also the natural and social sciences could provide—from Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare down to Einstein, Freud, and Weber.”
Jim Reed, Queen’s College, University of Oxford
“Adler ranges with equal mastery across several fields besides literature, placing Goethe the poet convincingly at the center of the intellectual and scientific culture, of his own day and ours.”
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