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500 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 which anticipates an important part of later Goethe research, to the effect that because of the changed times Goethe'is nearer to us by virtue of the very part of his work that was formerly neglected' (p 33). To prove this, the equally far-sighted statement follows that 'the dialectical materialist to-day will find support for his ideas in Goethe's writing just as easily as the evolutionist yesterday' (p 37). The lasting merit of these essays - of which three each are about Kleist and Nietzsche; one each about Raabe and Rilke - is the view of a non-German mind on essential authors from mainly nineteenthcentury German literature, but particularly on Goethe. Fairley still enjoys deserved credit for bringing an academically untrammelled Goethe to today's English-speaking readers. The award of the 'Grosses Verdienstkreuz am Bunde' of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1984 is the public acknowledgment. In selecting and annotating the essays, Rodney Symington has chosen an alternative preferable to the much too popular Festschrift: few scholars alive may claim that essays of theirs written seventy years ago are still readable today! Symington's Introduction carefully traces Fairley's academiccareerand the developmentofhis thought. However, one wonders why there is no mention ofFairley'sinvolvementwiththe Group ofSeven and his own accomplishments as a painter, a career that has won much recognition over the last three decades. (G. BRUDE-FIRNAU) Joseph Mileck. Herman Hesse: Life, Work and Criticism York Press. 49ยท $6.95 Twenty-three years after his death, Hesse idolatry persists. The statistics are staggering. He is the most widely read German author in North America and Japan, his books have been translated into forty languages, more than thirty million copies of his works have been sold all over the world. He is the object of over fifty books, more than two hundred dissertations, and in excess of five thousand contributions in newspapers and journals. Considering Hesse's personal contempt for the means of quantity, his refusal to yield to the tastes of the market-place, the dimensions of his echo are all the more surprising. In order to be understood, they deserve careful scrutiny. Unfortunately, this does not occur in Joseph Mileck's slim volume. His method of drawing conclusions about the author from his eccentric readers, whom he calls 'troubled people drawn to a troubled writer,' seems somewhat simplistic. Yet this is symptomatic of the entire work, whose ambitious title evokes expectations that are reinforced by the name of the Canadian series in which it appears ('Authoritative Studiesin World Literature'); its content, however, does not fulfil these expecta- HUMANITIES 501 tions. While it is intended to be a I succinct and inexpensive research tool ... designed to help students of literature and young scholars,' it is so abridged, simplified, and popularized that it is largely misleading, imprecise, and banal; this is perhaps inevitable in a publication on a phenomenon of this kind in which the author allots only nine pages to Hesse's biographYi eighteen pages to his fiction, and five pages to his popular and scholarly reception in Germany and America. The central chapter on Hesse's fiction consists essentially ofa summary of the findings of Mileck's earlier study, Hermann Hesse: Ufe and Art (Berkeley 1978), which seeks the perfect equation between Hesse's life and his fiction. It is this autobiographical constant which is developed here at the expense ofan analysis ofintrinsic features ofindividualworks. This section reads like a guide through Hesse's innerbiography byway of his fiction, and it therefore does not come as a surprise that Mileck finds Hesse's poetic method to be a process of 'fantasizing autobiography' while he deems his popularity to be the result of a process of 'universalizing autobiography.' Despite the claims of the title, the final section of the book neither reports on nor takes issue with central themes of Hesse criticism. All we find is an impressionistic elucidation of general trends, and the citing of some statistics in a flurry of flippant formulations ('Hesse virus,' 'the commercial priming of Hesse's pump'). Equally disappointing is the absence ofan assessment ofHesse's language; its deceptive precision and suggestive simplicity contribute equally...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 500-501
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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