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Goethe

Does this legendary literary figure have anything to offer us?

By John Armstrong   44

In the “holy trinity” of European writing-Daunty, Gouty and Shopkeeper (as Joyce called them)-the position of Goethe is the least secure. His name is universally known, but in the English-speaking world his work is not widely read. People have heard of Faust and Werther, but who has read the books? Goethe’s reputation for “wisdom” hardly helps in a climate where “unmasking” is an intellectual trademark. And everyone is aware of the canonical status Goethe’s work enjoyed during the Nazi period. This tells us more about cultural manipulation than it does about him, but it is of such asides that reputations…

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