Goethe's Ghosts

Goethe's Ghosts

Reading and the Persistence of Literature

Edited by Simon Richter, Richard Block


Camden House



New essays from leading Goethe scholars providing testimony to the continuing, even renewed, relevance of Goethe for literary studies today.

Invoking Goethe's name has become fashionable again. With new methods and technologies of reading threatening to render literature virtual and insubstantial, we have the sense that "Goethe's ghosts" - the otherwise neglected voices and traditions that, finding their most trenchant expression in Goethe, inform the Western storehouse of literature - can show us long-forgotten dimensions of literature. Inspired by the distinguished Goethe scholar Jane Brown, whose life's work has called attention to the allegorical modes haunting the mimetic forms that dominate modern literature, the contributors to this volume take a rich variety of approaches to Goethe: cultural studies, history of the book, semiotics, deconstruction, colonial studies, feminism, childhood studies, and eco-criticism. The persistence, omnipresence, and modalities of the "ghosts" they find suggest that more than influence or standards is at issue here. The stubborn reappearance of these revenants testifies to more fundamental issues concerning the status of literature and the task of the reader. As the contributors demonstrate, these questions acquire renewed urgency in writers as diverse as Hegel, Adorno, Benn, Droste-Hülshoff, and Nietzsche. Each of the essays testifies to the enduring salience and presence of Goethe.

Contributors: Helmut Ammerlahn, Benjamin Bennett, Dieter Borchmeyer, Franz-Josef Deiters, Richard T. Gray, Martha B. Helfer, Meredith Lee, Clark Muenzer, Andrew Piper, Jürgen Schröder, Peter J. Schwartz, Patricia Anne Simpson, Robert Deam Tobin, David E. Wellbery, Sabine Wilke.

Simon Richter is Professor of German Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Richard Block is Associate Professor of German at the University of Washington.


December 2013
7 black and white illustrations
322 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571135674
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
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Table of Contents

Introduction-Ghosts and the Machine: Reading with Jane Brown
Egologies: Goethe, Entoptics, and the Instruments of Writing Life
Goethe's Haunted Architectural Idea
"Über allen Gipfeln": The Poem as Hieroglyph
Goethe's Hauskapelle and Sacred Choral Music
From Haunting Visions to Revealing (Self-)Reflections: The Goethean Hero between Subject and Object
Mephisto or the Spirit of Laughter
Shipwreck with Spectators: Ideologies of Observation in Goethe's Faust II
Constructing the Nation: Volk, Kulturnation, and Eros in Faust
Gretchen's Ghosts: Goethe, Adorno, and the Literature of Refuge
"I'll burn my books!": Faust(s), Magic, Media
The Imagination of Freedom: Goethe and Hegel as Contemporaries
Effacement vs. Exposure of the Poetic Act: Philosophy and Literature as Producers of "History" (Hegel vs. Goethe)
Toward an Environmental Aesthetics: Depicting Nature in the Age of Goethe
"Ein heimlich Ding": The Self as Object in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
"Ja, Goethe über alles und immer!": Benn's "Double Life" in His Letters to F. W. Oelze (1932-56)
Bibliography of Jane K. Brown's Publications
Notes on the Contributors


(The editors) provide a complex introduction . . . . (T)he essays (are) all by renowned scholars who possess broad comparative expertise. . . . Recommended. CHOICE

If the introduction by the editors bears the subtitle "Reading with Jane Brown," and the volume as a whole, in allusion to Brown's 2007 monograph on allegory, the subtitle Reading and the Persistence of Literature, Richter and Block assert the claim to the survival and continuance of an exact reading practice, a "reading" in Jane K. Brown's sense: the intensive, at times even hair-splitting reading of literary texts. The contributions in this worthy volume prove them right-even if this reviewer is not always in agreement on the details. GOETHE-JAHRBUCH

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