The Current Issue

June 2017, Issue 454 Ben Hutchinson on Goethe in full * David Wheatley on T S Eliot's seventh volume of letters * Edith Hall on Greek and Roman myths and folk tales * Jonathan Steinberg on Jew Süss * Jane Ridley on Maud Russell's war diaries * Edward Dolnick on a forger's art * Oliver Balch on two wild swimming memoirs * Michael Hunter on Hans Sloane * Daisy Dunn on the Gauls * Michael Burleigh on Iran's Revolutionary Guards * Piers Brendon on Barack Obama * Michael Bloch on being gay in London * Sarah Ditum on self-obsession * John Lloyd on a career of reportage * Nakul Krishna on Arundhati Roy * James Purdon on Will Self * Jason Burke on book smuggling in Timbuktu *  and much, much more…

Ben Hutchinson

Goethe: Life as a Work of Art

By Rüdiger Safranski (Translated by David Dollenmayer)

In the long history of Western culture, it is given to very few to have an entire era named after them. Socrates sits within Antiquity, Leonardo da Vinci within the Renaissance; even Shakespeare has been subsumed into the ‘Elizabethan age’. That the ‘age of Goethe’ (Goethezeit) should have become a standard term for the years spanning the Weimar poet’s active life – roughly, 1770 to 1830 – suggests, then, his overwhelming importance to the German psyche. Without Goethe, one might say, the great tradition of high culture that characterises modern Germany would never have begun; without Goethe, the archetypes of the national imagination – the raging Werther, the ageing Faust – would never have... read more

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