Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Best Goethe Books

Charles J. Styles interviews David E. Wellbery, author of A New History of German Literature, at Five Books.

"...Faust is unquestionably Goethe’s most masterful and encompassing poetic achievement. It is a grand synthesis and in its grandeur it exceeds the limits of genre. Even to call it a drama doesn’t capture the achievement; it has epic and lyric qualities as well. The time covered in Faust extends from the beginning of the world all the way to Byron’s death in 1824 following the siege of Missolonghi. The work has a theological frame, a cultural-historical frame, and an artistic frame. It draws on the imaginary forms of bourgeois tragedy, Shakespearean drama, Renaissance lyric, the folk song, Calderon’s theatre, and Dante’s poetic vision. It combines the classical and the romantic, the high and the low, the mystical and the burlesque. Remarkably, all this holds together."

See Goethe, Faust, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 47, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 45.

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