Enlightenment Thought in the Writings of Goethe
Title Details

255 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Series Vol. Number: 35

Imprint: Camden House

Enlightenment Thought in the Writings of Goethe

A Contribution to the History of Ideas

by Paul E. Kerry

  • Description
  • Reviews
Shows Goethe, the most famous of German writers, as a child of the Enlightenment.

Throughout his oeuvre Goethe invokes the writers and thinkers of the Enlightenment: Voltaire and Goldsmith, Sterne and Bayle, Beccaria and Franklin. And he does not merely reference them: their ideas make up the salt of his most acclaimed works. Like Hume before him, Goethe takes up the topic of suicide, but in a best-selling novel, Werther; the beating heart of Faust I is the fate of a woman who commits infanticide, a burning social issue ofhis age; in an article for a popular journal Goethe takes up the cause of Kant and Penn, who wrote treatises on how to establish peace in Europe. In another essay Goethe calls for reconciliation between Germans who had fought against each other in those same Wars, as well as for worldwide understanding between Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Heathens. Professor Kerry shows that Goethe is a child of the Enlightenment and an innovator of its legacy. To do sohe discusses a chronological swath of Goethe's works, both popular and neglected, and shows how each of them engages Enlightenment concerns.

Paul Kerry is Professor of History at Brigham Young University.
"[A]n informative, well-researched, and useful book. By illuminating how Goethe's writings raise intellectual-cultural awareness, Kerry's study bears implications for recent studies of intercultural competence and transcultural literary interpretation. In sum, Kerry's insights into Goethe's writings and the process of enlightenment warrant sustained consideration." THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: A CURRENT BIBLIOGRAPHY
"An ambitious attempt to codify the use of Enlightenment philosophy in the writing of Goethe." BOOK NEWS
"Kerry's analyses demonstrate a profound mastery of the sources, of both Goethe's works and the secondary literature, with a pronounced preference for 'little-known pieces'." MONATSHEFTE (trans. from German)
"Clear, informative, and interesting. It is general enough to serve a less specialized readership, but it also brings to light aspects of Goethe's work that might otherwise be ignored." SEMINAR
"In choosing the texts that he does, and providing a very clever glimpse of the background within which those texts were generated, Kerry's book is worth the read, not just for Goethe enthusiasts, or Enlightenment scholars, but also for those seriously considering tolerance in our own age." JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS HISTORY
"In his forthright and clearly-written book, Kerry proves that he is a determined proponent of the argument that the great German writer felt a significant obligation to the Enlightenment, and that 'the Enlightenment engages Goethe for most of his life." DAS ACHTZEHNTE JAHRHUNDERT

Paperback

9781571134073

May 2009

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Title Details

255 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Series Vol. Number: 35

Imprint: Camden House