Goethes Naturalistic Anthropology: Man and Other Plants

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byMatthew Bell

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For many readers in the English-speaking world, Goethe is somehow separate from the European intellectual and literary tradition. In this unique and wide-ranging study, Matthew Bell aims to correct this view by showing how Goethe portrayed human beings as part of a natural continuum, verymuch in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Dr Bell's fresh readings of Goethe's major and lesser-known texts are set against the background of the science and philosophy of the age, and the writer's debts to other thinkers are analysed. The development of Goethe as a writer and thinker is traced from his sentimental epistolary novel Werther- read in the context of the rise of psychological theory in the Englightment - to the emergence of his own theory of `empirical psychology' in the great roman a clef of 1809, Die Wahverwandtschaften. In a major new interpretation of Wilhelm Meisters Lehriahre, Matthew Bell follows the ideal oforganic growth from the novel's origins in Engligtenment optimism to its revision in an atmosphere of post-revolutionary scepticism. Placing Goethe in an anthropological context, Goethe's Naturalistic Anthropology demonstrates that eighteenth-century anthropological thought provides an essential, hitherto overlooked context for the understanding of Goethe's literary enterprise from Werther to Die Wahllverwandtschaften.

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For many readers in the English-speaking world, Goethe is somehow separate from the European intellectual and literary tradition. In this unique and wide-ranging study, Matthew Bell aims to correct this view by showing how Goethe portrayed human beings as part of a natural continuum, verymuch in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Dr Be...

From the Jacket

For many readers in the English-speaking world, Goethe is somehow separate from the European intellectual and literary tradition. In this unique and wide-ranging study, Matthew Bell aims to correct this view by showing how Goethe portrayed human beings as part of a natural continuum, very much in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Dr Bel...

Matthew Bell is at King's College, London.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:356 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.06 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198158947

ISBN - 13:9780198158943

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`It is impossible to do justice in such a short review to the wealth of ideas in this book and the light they shed on Goethe's diverse productions.'British Association for Romantic Studies Bulletin and Review, issue no.12, June 1997