The Essential Goethe

The Essential Goethe

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Matthew Bell (Editor)


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The Essential Goethe is the most comprehensive and representative one-volume collection of Goethe's writings ever published in English. It provides English-language readers easier access than ever before to the widest range of work by one of the greatest writers in world history. Goethe’s work as playwright, poet, novelist, and autobiographer is fully represented. In addition to the works for which he is most famous, including Faust Part I and the lyric poems, the volume features important literary works that are rarely published in English—including the dramas Egmont, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Torquato Tasso and the bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, a foundational work in the history of the novel. The volume also offers a selection of Goethe’s essays on the arts, philosophy, and science, which give access to the thought of a polymath unrivalled in the modern world. Primarily drawn from Princeton’s authoritative twelve-volume Goethe edition, the translations are highly readable and reliable modern versions by scholars of Goethe. The volume also features an extensive introduction to Goethe’s life and works by volume editor Matthew Bell.


  • Selected poems
  • Four complete dramas: Faust Part I, Egmont, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Torquato Tasso
  • The complete novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship
  • A selection from the travel journal Italian Journey
  • Selected essays on art and literature
  • Selected essays on philosophy and science
  • An extensive introduction to Goethe’s life and works
  • A chronology of Goethe’s life and times
  • A note on the texts and translations

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691181042
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 1056
Sales rank: 286,505
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was one of the greatest writers of the German Romantic period. Matthew Bell is professor of German and comparative literature at King's College London. His books include Goethe’s Naturalistic Anthropology and Melancholia: The Western Malady.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Chronology of Goethe’s Life and Times xxxiii

Selected Poems 1

Egmont 41

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Iphigenia in Tauris 107

Translated by David Luke

Torquato Tasso 163

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Faust. A Tragedy 249

Translated by John R. Williams

Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship 371

Italian Journey: Part One 751

On Literature and Art 867

On German Architecture (1772) 867

Shakespeare: A Tribute (1771) 872

Simple Imitation, Manner, Style (1789) 875

Response to a Literary Rabble-Rouser (1795) 878

Winckelmann and His Age (1805) 881

Myron’s Cow (1818) 903

On World Literature 908

On Philosophy and Science 913

On Granite (1784) 913

A Study Based on Spinoza (c. 1785) 916

The Metamorphosis of Plants (1790) 917

Toward a General Comparative Theory (1790–94) 937

The Experiment as Mediator between Subject and Object (1792) 940

The Extent to Which the Idea “Beauty Is Perfection in Combination with Freedom” May Be Applied to Living Organisms (c. 1794) 947

Observation on Morphology in General (c. 1795) 948

Polarity (c. 1799) 951

From Theory of Color (1791–1807) 952

Part Five: Relationship to Other Fields 952

Part Six: Sensory-Moral Effect of Color 960

From On Morphology (1807–17) 977

The Enterprise Justified 977

The Purpose Set Forth 978

The Content Prefaced 981

The Influence of Modern Philosophy (1817) 983

Colors in the Sky (1817–20) 986

Problems (1823) 987

Excerpt from “Toward a Theory of Weather” (1825) 988

Analysis and Synthesis (c. 1829) 993

A More Intense Chemical Activity in Primordial Matter (1826) 995

Excerpt from “The Spiral Tendency in Vegetation” (1829–31) 995

Selections from Maxims and Reflections 998

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