The Very Late Goethe
Self-Consciousness and the Art of Ageing

Charlotte Lee

Germanic Literatures 5

Legenda

23 April 2014  •  162pp

ISBN: 978-1-909662-12-4 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-315084-97-8 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

EnlightenmentGermanLife-WritingPoetry


Goethe's career was an unusually long and productive one: he became a literary celebrity in the 1770s and remained so until his death in 1832. The distinguishing feature of his last works is their self-consciousness, their preoccupation both with the business of writing and with personal development. In the first cross-genre study of this period of Goethe's work, Charlotte Lee traces the theme in his last major poems and autobiographical writings, before turning to the two 'giants', Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre and Faust II. All these works share a tendency to allude subtly to earlier moments from Goethe's own literary output, but to fashion them into writing which is quite new - even though (or perhaps because) he himself is old. This book seeks to understand the unique perspective of one nearing the end of a long life.

Charlotte Lee is a Junior Research Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.

Reviews:

  • ‘The major achievement of this study is to show how simplistic it is to distinguish between clarity and chaos as two distinct types of late style. Neither will serve as an adequate descriptor of Goethe’s late-late writing, which is simultaneously highly patterned and controlled, yet ultimately also inchoate and at times bafflingly lacking in transparency.’ — Osman Durrani, Modern Language Review 110.2, April 2015, 587-88 (full text online)
  • ‘A subtle and complex reflection on the distinctive character of Goethe’s writing in various genres during the last ten years of his life, which is characterized by a tendency towards retrospection, seen in the way that he revisits earlier experiences and earlier writing.’ — David Hill, The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies 77, 2017, 272

Bibliography entry:

Lee, Charlotte, The Very Late Goethe: Self-Consciousness and the Art of Ageing, Germanic Literatures, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2014)

First footnote reference: 35 Charlotte Lee, The Very Late Goethe: Self-Consciousness and the Art of Ageing, Germanic Literatures, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2014), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Lee, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Lee, Charlotte. 2014. The Very Late Goethe: Self-Consciousness and the Art of Ageing, Germanic Literatures, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Lee 2014: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Lee 2014: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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