Reading Goethe: A Critical Introduction to the Literary Work by Martin Swales, Erika Swales

By Martin Swales, Erika Swales

The 12 months 1999 observed the 250th anniversary of the beginning of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's maximum author. competently, literary students inside of Germany and past paid tribute to this awesome expertise. yet a couple of commentators additionally famous that Goethe is frequently respected instead of learn, recognized of instead of recognized. it's the goal of this research to supply a corrective to this scenario. The authors be aware of the literary paintings and supply analyses that signify an impassioned, yet not at all uncritical, advocacy -- one who seeks to cajole either educational critics and normal readers alike that Goethe is among the key figures of eu modernity. To an quantity that's nearly particular in glossy literature, Goethe was once energetic in a complete variety of literary genres. He was once an exceptional poet, unequalled within the number of his expressive modes, and in his skill to mix highbrow sophistication withexperiential immediacy. He additionally wrote brief tales and novels all through his lifestyles, starting from the The Sorrows of younger Werther, to The non-compulsory Affinities. He was once additionally a hugely expert dramatist, either within the historic mode and within the classical verse-drama. specifically else, Goethe is the writer of Faust: a workthat makes an attempt -- and achieves -- greater than the other smooth eu drama.

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33 34 ♦ POETRY “My father, my father, now he has caught hold of me! ] Like so many ballads, this poem has an energetic narrative thrust: a father rides through the night with his child; in his terror the child sees a ghostly figure who beckons to him and finally attacks him; when the father arrives at his journey’s end, the child is dead in his arms. Much of the poem — and this again is a recurring feature of the ballad form — is sustained by dialogue. In this case there are three speakers, in addition to the narrative voice which introduces and ends the poem in the first and final stanzas: the father, the son, and the Erl King.

Aus diesen Augen der ewig belebenden Liebe vollschwellende Tränen. [Grow more lushly green, you foliage, On the vine trellis, Here up to my window. Swell more tightly, Twin berries, and ripen More quickly and more lustrously full. You are bred from the farewell Glance of the maternal sun, you are Fanned by the fruitful fullness Of the lovely sky. ] The poem opens, remarkably, with a human voice commanding nature outside the window to move the season forward more swiftly: “grüne,” “quellet,” “reifet” (green, flow, ripen) are all imperative forms.

POETRY Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort? — Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau: Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau. ” Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an! Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan! — Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind, Er hält in den Armen das ächzende Kind, Erreicht den Hof mit Mühe und Not; In seinen Armen das Kind war tot. [Who rides so late through night and wind? It is the father with his child; He has the boy secure in his arms, He holds him tightly, he keeps him warm.

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