Academic journal article German Quarterly

Review article: Goethe--new scholarship

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Review article: Goethe--new scholarship

Article excerpt

The Goethe Year 1999-the celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth-has come and gone, and with it a flood of new publications on Goethe has appeared.1 The mix of Goethe titles ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the frivolous to the utmost scholarly. You can inform yourself conveniently with Hier war Goethe nicht: biographische Einzelheiten zu Goethes Abwesenheit, update your appreciation of Weihnachten bei Goethe, and indulge in reading Gute Gute, Goethe! Bizarres and Behammertes aus 250 Jahren deutschen Goethetums.2 A wealth of new academic publications ranges from the tried, true, and shopworn about the last Universalgenie, his connectedness to Weltliteratur, his irony and poetic greatness etc., to innovative readings and new historical and critical work. The following selection does not claim to be comprehensive nor representative of all the new and informative publications of the past three years. I have chosen titles that should be of interest to the readership of the German Quarterly, especially to those readers who teach and read Goethe texts and have a general interest in what used to be called the Age of Goethe.3

Several new books for quick reference can be mentioned only summarily: a new, lively written, concise and reliable biography is now available with Karlheinz Schulz, Goethe:Eine Biographie in 16 Kapiteln,4 which pays attention to much personal and everyday detail without falling into the trap of either lauding or scolding the great man. Goethe is seen and presented as a human being and writer within the politics of the contemporary literary and cultural scene. Written for the English-speaking audience, Irmgard Wagner's Goethe5 contains a very short biography chapter followed by brief introductions to the major works in chronological order. In the prolific Twayne series on world authors, it serves as a replacement for Lieselotte Dieckmann's very fine Goethe study of 1974. The limitation on size, no doubt imposed by the publisher, makes itself felt everywhere, but it is written in English and serves especially the American college market as a first introduction to Goethe's major texts. Outstanding among the new reference works is Gero von Wilpert's Goethe-Lexikon.6 It is compact, handsomely produced and chock full of reliable, interesting information on Goethe and anything one might want to ask about his era. It is a real find, and a bargain, in the useful KronerTaschenbuchausgabe series. I have found it more reliable and useful than the voluminous and pricey Goethe-Handbuch.7

1. Goethe, Women, and Gender

Dam, Sigrid, ed. Christiane Goethe: Tagebuch 1816 and Briefe. Frankfurt: Insel, 1999. 479 pp. DM 22.80.

Dam, Sigrid. Christiane and Goethe. Eine Recherche. Frankfurt: Insel, 1998. 540 pp. DM 49.80.

Goethe and die Frauen. Eine Gemeinschaftsausstellung der Frankfurter Burger-Stiftung im Holzhausenschlosschen and des Goethe-Museums in Dusseldorf/ Anton-and-Katharina-Kippenberg-Stiftung zur Wurdigung des 250. Geburtstags von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Frankfurt a. M.: Frankfurter Burger-Stiftung, 1999. 223 pp. DM 29.00.

Habermas, Rebekka, and Tanja Hommen, eds. Das Frankfurter Gretchen. Der Prozess gegen die Kindsmorderin Susanna Brandt. Munich: Beck, 1999.

Kovalevski, Barbel, et al. eds. Zwischen Ideal and Wirklichkeit. Kunstlerinnen der Goethe-Zeit zwischen 1750 and 1850. Ostfildern-Ruit: Gerd Hatje 1999.360 pp.

Seele, Astrid. Frauen um Goethe. rororo Monographien. Reinbek b. Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1997 160 pp., DM 12.90.

Simpson, James. Goethe and Patriarchy: Faust and the Fates of Desire. Oxford: Legenda, European Humanites Research Centre, Oxford University, 1998. xvi + 318 pp.

Willim, Petra. So frei geboren wie ein Mann? Frauengestalten im Werk Goethes. Frankfurt a. M.: Helmer, 1997. 323 pp.

The Goethe Year has produced one outstanding bestseller: Christiane and Goethe. Eine Recherche. The book has been on the German bestseller lists ever since its appearance in the spring of 1998, for more than 60 weeks altogether and topping the charts for several weeks last year. …

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