Goethe in English: A Bibliography of the Translations in the Twentieth Century

By Bohm, Arnd | Goethe Yearbook, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Goethe in English: A Bibliography of the Translations in the Twentieth Century


Bohm, Arnd, Goethe Yearbook


Derek Glass, Goethe in English: A Bibliography of the Translations in the Twentieth Century. Leeds: Maney Publishing for the English Goethe Society and the Modern Humanities Research Association, 2005. 245 pp.

Derek Glass, who had accepted a commission from the English Goethe Society to compile this bibliography to mark the 250th anniversary of Goethe's birth, did not live to see it in print. Fortunately, most of the work was finished at his untimely death, so that Matthew Bell and Martin Jones were able to complete the final editing tasks. The outcome will endure as a splendid monument to Glass's skill, dedication and intelligent thoroughness.

As the title indicates, the aim was to list all translations into English of Goethe's works published between 1900 and 1999 anywhere in the world. Virtually all the descriptions are based on first-hand autopsy, with astute annotations where necessary. The masses of detail have been organized and presented in a clear, logical manner. Within each separate category the translations are listed in chronological order. Five indexes-Goethe's works, the poems, the poems from the West-ostlicher Divan, songs and scenes from Faust, and the translators-make searching easy. The publisher has not stinted on space in the margins or resorted to eye-straining tiniest fonts, so that the text is legible. Head notes with the respective section numbers would have been a nice extra touch, since the indexes refer to them.

Not everything is perfect. It is almost petty to report the sole spelling error that caught my eye, namely John Hopkins for Johns Hopkins (four instances attached to citations of Harold Jantz's work). Glass freely admits in the foreword what every bibliographer knows: the ideal of completeness remains elusive. The one decision that will disappoint many users is the exclusion of translations that result from recordings of music set to Goethe texts (album and liner notes and the like). Thus items such as the "creative translation" by Joseph Auslander of "Zauberlehrling" for Paul Dukas's "The sorcerer's apprentice" on RCA Victor LM 1803 (recorded in Boston, 1954) will not show up here, even though they are an important subset of the reception history. …

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