The Essential Goethe (Paperback)

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The Essential Goethe By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Matthew Bell (Editor), Matthew Bell (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Matthew Bell (Editor), Matthew Bell (Introduction by)
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Staff Reviews

Of all the works in this collection, my favorite is the novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Just as Thomas Mann said he could only speak of Goethe in terms of love, I can only speak of this novel in just such terms. Wilhelm Meister leaves his hometown on a business trip and winds up joining a travelling theatre troupe. Wilhelm has always been passionate about the theatre, with hopes of being a great playwright and actor, but he and his friends encounter many mishaps along the way. Wilhelm meets many characters, such as Philina, the seductive actress; Laertes, a fellow and like-minded actor; Jarno, a mysterious and worldly figure critical of Wilhelm’s theatrical aspirations; and Mignon, the orphaned acrobat of whom Wilhelm becomes a guardian and parental figure. A novel of wisdom and humor, of dramatic plot-twists and subtle motifs, of irony and beauty, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship is delightful.

The Essential Goethe also includes a sampling of Goethe's poetry; four plays, including Faust, Part I; an excerpt of his travelogue Italian Journey; and a sampling of essays.

— From Austin


The most comprehensive one-volume collection of Goethe's writings ever published in English

The Essential Goethe is the most comprehensive and representative one-volume collection of Goethe's writings ever published in English. It provides English-language readers easier access than ever before to the widest range of work by one of the greatest writers in world history. Goethe's work as playwright, poet, novelist, and autobiographer is fully represented. In addition to the works for which he is most famous, including Faust Part I and the lyric poems, the volume features important literary works that are rarely published in English--including the dramas Egmont, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Torquato Tasso and the bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, a foundational work in the history of the novel. The volume also offers a selection of Goethe's essays on the arts, philosophy, and science, which give access to the thought of a polymath unrivalled in the modern world. Primarily drawn from Princeton's authoritative twelve-volume Goethe edition, the translations are highly readable and reliable modern versions by scholars of Goethe. The volume also features an extensive introduction to Goethe's life and works by volume editor Matthew Bell.

  • Selected poems
  • Four complete dramas: Faust Part I, Egmont, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Torquato Tasso
  • The complete novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
  • A selection from the travel journal Italian Journey
  • Selected essays on art and literature
  • Selected essays on philosophy and science
  • An extensive introduction to Goethe's life and works
  • A chronology of Goethe's life and times
  • A note on the texts and translations

About the Author

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was one of the greatest writers of the German Romantic period. Matthew Bell is professor of German and comparative literature at King's College London. His books include Goethe's Naturalistic Anthropology and Melancholia: The Western Malady.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780691181042
ISBN-10: 0691181047
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Pages: 1056
Language: English