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Poet and natural philosopher, critic and raconteur, Goethe was the most commanding literary presence of his time. This text organizes the many details of Goethe's career in print. Director of the German publishing company Suhrkamp Verlag, Siegfried Unseld brings a singular perspective to this biography, focusing our attention on an essential component of Goethe's literary endeavors: his relationship to his publishers. Carefully examining each work, Unseld covers the range of Goethe's oeuvre, from first anonymous publications to eventual monumental editions brought out by Johann Friedrich Cotta, the most renowned publisher of his day.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226841908
ISBN-10: 0226841901
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 153mm x 30mm)
Pages: 382
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 5-Dec-1996
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » An urbane, engaging exploration of the great poet's career in letters by Germany's foremost literary publisher. This unusual new work is welcome for two reasons: Scholars have written relatively little about Goethe's relation with his publishers and nothing at all that anyone but an academic Goethe-drudge would care to read. And since Unseld is himself a publisher (of Suhrkamp Verlag, in Frankfurt), he brings a unique perspective to this material. He is able to identify and clarify the problems that Goethe and his various publishers were up against in the days before copyright law, lending libraries, and book clubs. In addition, he is able to vivify the personalities involved, Goethe above all. The result is a book that is simultaneously learned and personal, informative and entertaining, thoughtful and judicious. The underlying aim, obscured by the book's title, is to come to grips with Goethe's prodigious creativity by setting it in its historical context. Unseld proceeds chronologically from the poet's earliest works through his final attempts to collaborate with his most important publisher, Johann Friedrich Cotta, on establishing a complete and reliable edition of his works. Surprisingly, Unseld's unpretentious prose is never dry. It sparkles with lively digressions on Goethe's loves, his politics, his friends, his tics and foibles. In short, this is really a literary biography that uses the author and his publishers as a kind of point of orientation. There is some occasional fuzziness in the translation. When we hear, for example, that contemporary critics regard Goethe's Theory of Colors as a work of "disturbing actuality," few would guess that the phrase is supposed to mean a "disturbing relevance to the present." The book is a slow starter, but Unseld's passion and good sense gradually win the reader over by throwing light on Goethe, on his accomplishments, and on his complex relations with his publishers. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Siegfried Unseld

Siegfried Unseld (1924-2002) was the publisher of Suhrkamp Verlag in Frankfurt for fifty years. He was also a scholar ofGerman literature andwrote fourbooks on Goethe, including "Goethe and His Publishers," published in translation by the University of Chicago Press. "

Books By Author Siegfried Unseld

Goethe and the Ginko: a Tree and a Poem by Siegfried Unseld

Goethe and the Ginko: a Tree and a Poem

Hardback, July 2003
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