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Goethe the Poet & the Age Volume 2by Nicholas Boyle
Synopses & Reviews
When Volume I of Nicholas Boyle's biography of Goethe appeared, it received an avalanche of praise on both sides of the Atlantic. George Steiner, in The New Yorker, called it "the best biography of Goethe in English." Doris Lessing, in The Independent, called it "biography at its best." And The New York Times Book Review hailed it as "a remarkable achievement," adding "there is nothing comparable to this study in any language."
Now comes the second volume of this definitive portrait, published on the 250th anniversary of Goethe's birth. Here Nicholas Boyle chronicles the most eventful and crowded years of Goethe's life: the period of the French Revolution — which turned Goethe's life upside down — and of the philosophical revolution in Germany which ushered in the periods of Idealism and Romanticism. It was also a period dominated by two intense personal relationships — with Schiller, Weimar's other great poet, philosopher, and dramatist, and with Christiana Vulpius, the mother of his son. Boyle paints vivid portraits of Goethe's harrowing experiences of the Revolutionary wars, of the explosion of new ideas in philosophy and literature which for ten years made Jena the intellectual capital of Europe, and of the upheavals sparked by Napoleon which destroyed the Holy Roman Empire.
Boyle captures both the large-scale events that swept Europe and the personal dramas of this exciting time. And he offers brilliant new analyses of Goethe's works of the period, most notably Wilhelm Meister, The Natural Daughter, and Faust. Indeed, this volume is a major work of historical and literary scholarship, and an important biography of one of the giants of Western culture.
"For years I shied away from Volume I (848 pages), and I read Volume II only when forced ? I sat on a book-prize jury that was considering it. Once finished, however, I couldn't wait to open the first volume. Even if you don't read this opus, you should know about it: Boyle's will remain one of the few towering works of biography and history of our time....Rarely is a definitive and magnificent work of scholarship so engrossing: Boyle's very amplitude captivates the reader, as he slowly, commandingly envelopes you in Goethe's mind and age." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"In this second installment, Boyle (head of Cambridge's German Department) again excels, studying the most productive and personally intense years of the world-celebrated Goethe." Booklist
"Boyle's unrivaled knowledge and generosity of spirit make this not just a supreme biography, but one of the finest works on the 18th century." Jeremy Adler, The New York Times Book Review
"The unique contribution of this biography lies in the vast learning and narrative skill with which Boyle traces the process of Goethe's peculiar amalgamation of truth and fiction, his merging of the personal and historical with the symbolic and the universal. Make it four volumes, Boyle deserves it." Eighteenth-Century Studies
"It is very difficult to put the book down once one has started reading and beginning to feel that one is a fly on the wall watching history develop." Dr. F.T. Hamblin, British-German Review
This volume covers the most eventful years of Goethe's life: the period of the French Revolution and the German philosophical revolution. It was also a period dominated by two relationships: with the poet, philosopher, and dramatist, Schiller and with Christiana Vulpius, the mother of his son.
In this, the second volume of "Goethe: The Poet and the Age, Nicholas Boyle covers the most eventful and crowded years of Goethe's life: the period of the French Revolution, and of the German philosophical revolution which ushered in the periods of Idealism and Romanticism. In his personal life, this was a period dominated by two intense relationships. One being Schiller, Weimar's other great poet, philosopher, and dramatist; and the other Christiana Vulpius, the mother of his son. Transition into modernity courses through this volume--a major theme not just of the times, but also of Goethe's life. Boyle discusses the poet's harrowing experiences of the Revolutionary wars; the explosion of new ideas in philosophy and literature that he absorbed and adapted; and the political upheaval that at once destroyed the Holy Roman Empire and the cultural role Goethe had envisaged for Jena and Weimar. Vividly narrating both the large-scale events and the personal drama of this exciting time, Boyle gives lucid accounts of Goethe, his works, and the crucial thinkers and events of his time.
About the Author
Nicholas Boyle is Reader in German Literary and Intellectual History, and Head of the Department of German, at Cambridge University. He lives in the United Kingdom.
Table of Contents
9. The Age of Revolution
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