Academic journal article German Quarterly

Goethe und die romanische Welt: Studien zur Goethezeit und ihrer europaischen Vorgeschichte

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Goethe und die romanische Welt: Studien zur Goethezeit und ihrer europaischen Vorgeschichte

Article excerpt

Maurer, Karl. Goethe and die romanische Welt. Studien zur Goethezeit and ihrer europaischen Vorgeschichte. Paderborn: Schoningh, 1997. 360pp. DM 98.00.

Goethe and die romanische Welt is a collection of essays that study various aspects of German, Italian, and French literatures. The title of the book therefore does not quite capture the larger scope of the whole. Only the first third focuses specifically on Goethe and his connection to Romance literatures-whether as a reader, translator, or imitator. The lion's share of the book addresses French Classical drama and focuses on its critics ("Fenelons vergebliche Kritik der Franzosischen Klassik and die Emanzipation der deutschen Literatur von der klassizistischen Norm") and the influence of Italian pastoral drama upon it ("Die Verkannte Tragodie: Die Wiedergeburt der Tragodie aus dem Geist der Pastorale"). Except for "Die Verkannte Tragodie" (which accounts for almost half of the book), the rest of the chapters have been published before (although "Fenelons vergebliche Kritik" has only been published in an abridged version).

The quite independent chapters were originally written for disparate audiences and purposes, and, therefore, the individual chapters will find quite different readers. The first two ("Goethe and die romanische Welt" and "Das Leben des Benvenuto Cellini") were written as afterwords for the appropriate volumes in editions of Goethe's collected works and serve as excellent general introductions to the topics. The essay on Cellini, for example, gives background information not only on Goethe's work as a translator, but upon Cellini and his age as well. The rest of the essays are written for more specialized audiences. Two essays, "Die verschleierten Konfessionen" and "Entstaltung," will be of particular interest to Goethe scholars. "Die verschleierten Konfessionen" examines Rousseau's influence on Goethe's works, particularly on Werther and Tasso. Most interesting is the analysis of the possible influences of Rousseau's Confessions on Goethe's discussion of Werther in Books 12 and 13 of Dichtung and Wahrheit. "Entstaltung," in contrast, addresses a very specific aspect of Goethe scholarship. The essay traces Lavater's influence upon Goethe's use of "Entstaltung," a term that was incorrectly transcribed in many Goethe editions as "Entstellung. …

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