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224 Book Reviews that as early as 1773, in fahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern, Goethe had begun to distance himself from Pietism, a trend that would culminate in the cruel break with Lavater. Günter Niggl shows how the question of Goethe's reliability as a witness is framed by his relation in that text of his encounters with Pietism. Two case histories shed light on how personal factors complicated Goethe's shifting attitudes to Pietism. Horst Weigelt investigates the warming and subsequent cooling to icy indifference of Goethe's friendship with Lavater, while Gustav Adolf Benrath reviews the less consequential, sad story of the acquaintanceship with Jung-Stilling.There are suggestions that these conflicts may reveal much about Goethe's religious views, but one should bear in mind that overall Goethe could be vain and quarrelsome, so that the personal conflicts may simply have coincided with his growing impatience with enthusiasts of all kinds. Paul Raabe's brief article on the reception in the eighteenth century of Karl Heinrich von Bogatzky's anthology Güldne Schatzkästlein der Kinder Gottes (1718, and frequentiy thereafter) is a gem not to be missed, not least because of the quoted poem by Goethe's mother (9). Rather more imposing are the remaining three substantial articles. Christa Habrich's superbly documented "Alchemie und Chemie in der pietistischen Tradition" maps the conftised interminglings of radical Protestantism, alchemy, medicine and hermeticism that swirled through the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and had such a profound impact on Goethe. Her article is complemented by Hans-Jürgen Schrader's "Salomonis Schlüssel für die 'halbe Höllenbrut': Radikalpietistisch tingierte 'Geist=Kunst' im Faustschen 'Studierzimmer,'" which convincingly identifies a significant new source for that scene. Last, but by no means least, Hans-Georg Kemper's magisterial essay " 'Göttergleich': Zur Genese der Genie-Religion aus pietistischem und hermetischem 'Geist' " can be recommended to everyone still in doubt about the importance of Pietism for Goethe and his contemporaries. The essay should evidently have stood at the beginning of the volume; it may well set the research agenda for years to come, as we continue to expand our understanding of religious faith at the heart of German literary history. Carleton University Arnd Böhm Bruce Duncan, Goethe's Werther and the Critics. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2005.208 pp. Bruce Duncan's Goethe's Werther and the Critics forms part of Camden House's excellent Literary Criticism in Perspective series, which examines an eclectic set of authors and texts in the context of their reception, and thereby aims, among other goals, to "illuminate the nature of literary criticism itself." Few novels are as embroiled in the history of their own reception as is Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, a reception which contains within it a tradition of aiming to debunk and clarify the myths and misconceptions that have sprung up precisely around the book's reception. Few studies of Werther begin without a description of the imagined hordes of imitative Sturm-und-Dränger all blowing holes in their heads while identically attired in yellow pants and blue coats, and Duncan's is no exception. The book's initial chapter,"First Responses," contains an engaging and scholarly account of the well-known debates surrounding the first publication of Werther, as well as a useful summary of the development of literary criticism in Germany until 1774. Thereafter, the book abandons a chronological approach to the vast Goethe Yearbook 225 body of criticism available on Werther; instead proceeding thematically, each chapter chronologically summarizing two centuries' worth of scholarship under five broad headings. This is a mammoth task that necessarily involves many compromises on the author's part, including restricting works covered to those published in English or German, and a somewhat repetitive chapter structure.Thus, the next chapter "Religious Interpretations" covers approaches that deal with the moral shortcomings or virtues of the novel, its affinity to atheism, pantheism or pietism, as well as intertextual readings comparing Werther to Christ. The next, "Psychological Approaches," traces the long and polemic history that sees Werther primarily as a case study in mental sickness, whether as a pathological exemplar of the Sturm und...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-9087
Print ISSN
0734-3329
Pages
pp. 224-225
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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