Love and Death in Goethe

Love and Death in Goethe

`One and Double'

Ellis Dye


Camden House



Explores the central theme of Romantic poetry in the works of the most important German Romantic poet of all.
Goethe, in association with his younger Romantic compatriots the Schlegels, Novalis, Fichte, and Schelling, struggled with the subject-object dichotomy, and tried to bridge the gap between self and other, consciousness and nature. His theory and practice prefigured the Romantics' determination to display and interrogate the linguistic and cultural structures informing their own thinking and modes of representation--what Goethe calls one's "Vorstellungsart." His work exploits, subverts, and supplants inherited conventions and signs, demonstrating with virtuosic irony that literature is a system of texts, pre-texts, and pre-established but dynamic conceptual models. Love and Death in Goethe:"One and Double" explores Goethe's use, in a wide range of his poetry and prose, of the theme of Liebestod (love and death) and related embodiments of the paradox of unity in duality. Ellis Dye also examines Goethe's use of other themes related to love and death--the femme fatale, the vagina dentata, Frau Welt, the Lorelei, venereal disease, the Lustmord--and considers issues of selfhood and individuation as well as the possibility that the love-death theme contains an implicit gender bias toward the existential fact of personal separateness. Poems, plays, and novels are dealt with, nevertheless, as works of art, not only as illustrations of an idea or as points of intersection in a system of rhetorical conventions, and are examined for intellectual cohesiveness, elegance, and integrity of design as well as special meanings and effects. Love and Death in Goethe:"One and Double" explores the meaning of the central theme of Romantic poetry in the works of the most important Romantic poet of all. Students of literary culture, both the lay reader and the Goethe specialist, will be enlightened by its approach and find pleasure and instruction in its revelations.

Robert Ellis Dye is Professor of German at Macalester College.


October 2004
1 black and white illustrations
347 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571133007
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT006000
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Table of Contents

Issues: Some Implications of the Link between Love and Death
Incorporating Tradition
Frau Welt. Veneral Disease. Femmes Fatales
Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
Stella: Eine Schauspiel für Liebende
Intrusions of the Supernatural
Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre: Identity and Difference
Poetic Ambiguity: "Selige Sehnsucht"
Die Wahlverwandtschaften: Romantic Metafiction
Love and Death in Faust
Truth, Paradox, Irony
Works Cited


In this impressive study one encounters a densely woven tapestry of argument from a scholar of literature and philosophy...Dye offers valuable commentary on the perspectives of major Goethe scholars and makes lively reference to contemporaneous popular culture. Essential. CHOICE

Solid scholarship and well-made books, not short-lived provocation is what we have come to expect from the series "Studies in German literature, linguistics, and culture" by Camden House. This volume is an important contribution to the study of Goethe as an essential part of and even pioneer of European Romanticism. GERMAN QUARTERLY

By showing the parallels between Goethe's worldview and Romantic irony, (Dye) is able to firmly connect the dots between Goethe and his younger Romantic contemporaries. Scholars will find this innovative approach to Goethe both refreshing and insightful. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Ellis Dye has ... made an extremely important contribution to contemporary Goethe studies, drawing upon a vast array of Goethe's works, and offering interpretations that are often bold and compelling. SPRACHKUNST

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