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Goethe: A Very Short Introduction [#462]
Goethe: A Very Short Introduction [#462]
  • Covers the life of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), and all his major works
  • Discusses the (often controversial) research which has changed the image of Goethe in the last few decades
  • Places Goethe in his historical context (the Holy Roman Empire; the Napoleonic Wars), and considers how this aids our understanding of his works

In 1878 the Victorian critic Matthew Arnold wrote: 'Goethe is the greatest poet of modern times... because having a very considerable gift for poetry, he was at the same time, in the width, depth, and richness of his criticism of life, by far our greatest modern man.'
In this Very Short Introduction Ritchie Robertson covers the life and work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): scientist, administrator, artist, art critic and supreme literary writer in a vast variety of genres. Looking at Goethe's poetry, novels and drama pieces, as well as his travel writing, autobiography, and essays on art and aesthetics, Robertson analyses some of the key themes in his works: love, nature, religion and tragedy. Dispelling the misconception of Goethe as a sedate Victorian sage, Robertson shows how much of his art was rooted in turbulent personal conflicts, and draws on recent research to present a complete portrait of the scientific work and political activity which accompanied Goethe's writings.


1: Love
2: Nature
3: Classical Art and World Literature
4: Politics
5: Tragedy
6: Religion
Further Reading

About the author: 

Ritchie Robertson is Taylor Professor of German in the University of Oxford. He is Research Director for the Modern Languages Faculty, co-director (with Carolin Duttlinger and Katrin Kohl) of the Oxford Kafka Research Centre, convenor of the Bithell Series of Dissertations in German, and editor of the new series Germanic Literatures to be published from 2013 by Legenda. He is the author of The 'Jewish Question' in German Literature, 1749-1939: Emancipation and its Discontents (OUP, 1999), Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine (OUP, 2009), and Kafka; A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2004). He has translated several German authors into English for the Oxford World's Classics and Penguin Classics series, and has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 2004.

"Robertsone points the reader interested in rediscovery to the best starting points." - Catholic Herald

"This Very Short Introduction does exactly what a VSI should do. It introduces the reader to its subject and explains why it is significant, and it's pitched at a non-academic audience in accessible language and with a coherent organisation of the content. Ritchie Robertson's Goethe, A Very Short Introduction made me want to drop what I'm currently reading and find out more about this great German writer ... I can't this VSI highly enough." - ANZ LitLovers

Product details

ISBN : 9780199689255

Ritchie Robertson
160 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
Very Short Introductions
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Goethe: A Very Short Introduction [#462]

Goethe: A Very Short Introduction [#462]

Goethe: A Very Short Introduction [#462]