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The Essential Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Edited and introduced by Matthew Bell

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2016

Paperback | May 2018 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691181042
1056 pp. | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 1 b/w illus., 1 tables
Hardcover | 2016 | $39.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691162904
1056 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 1 halftone. 1 table.
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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

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was one of the greatest artists 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.


"The Essential Goethe, a rich new anthology, a thousand pages long, edited by Matthew Bell . . . valiantly seeks to display every facet of Goethe's genius."--Adam Kirsch, New Yorker

"Succeeds in presenting Goethe from as many angles as can be fitted in between the covers of a single tome: the scientist beside the poet, the tireless observer of nature and eagle-eyed critic of art and society, the philosopher alongside the novelist and playwright."--Osman Durrani, Times Literary Supplement

"The meticulously prepared edition [The Essential Goethe] brims with Goethe's radiant insights and reflects his stunning virtuosity, confirming again his paramount position in European letters."--Publishers Weekly

"This book answers a need for a one-volume English translation of Goethe's most significant works. . . . An excellent, serviceable book."--Choice

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    File created: 9/7/2017

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