30 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Badly organized and edited book,
By A Customer
This review is from: Selected Works (Everyman's Library) (Hardcover)
The 3 stars are for the lousy editing and organizing of the book, not its actual contents, which is a collection of the more important works of I understand one of the world's greatest writer.
Books like this should be judged by the way they are edited -- the stature over the past 200 years of the author and of his works contained in the book are beyond dispute anymore. You can always say all the superlative words about, say, Shakespeare or James Joyce, but it will only show that you are just catching up with what the rest of the world knows already. Same here.
Usually, books like this, specially those published by supposedly respectable publishers, would be a bit more well organized. A well known critic would introduce the book at the level of an average reader, would tell you how the works that comprise the collection were selected, would tell you the merits and demerits of the available translations and why a particular translation was chosen for the collection, etc.
It would have maps and chronologies and a bit more background information so you will appreciate better the historical and geographical and cultural context of the author's works.
Aside from the chronology and a terribly irrelevant and unreadable and useless and boring exercise in conceited academic hoo-hah, otherwise known as the book's Introduction, you get none of those goodies and you must just fend for yourself while wading in 1,248 pages of 200 year-old literature.
The specialists -- those who are engaged in the cottage industry that surrounds a major writer -- will probably like this book, if indeed this book collects all of Goethe's books that matter in the English translation.
However for the dilettante like you and me who just knows that Goethe is supposed to be a good writer and specially those who are looking for a good English translation of any of his major work, this book is no help at all. You just don't know whether the translations are the best ones available in English.
Almost all the paraphernalia in the book are useless, and you will be like reading an unknown 200 year-old 1,248-page book of an unknown writer.
(P.S. but I did enjoy reading the Sorrows of Young Werther and the poems, for all they are worth.)
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 1, 2006 11:45:19 PM PST
I. Randolph S. Shiner says:
Sorry, but this is useless. You don't say how it IS organized or how you would have done so. Unless you are Gore Vidal or some other such pedigreed author, your commentary is just a lot of hoo-hah.
Posted on Sep 26, 2009 8:43:17 AM PDT
Unknown book by unknown author! Are you kidding? You are not a dilettante; you are a cultural illiterate. Stick with the "For Dummies" series, if such a thing exists for literature.
This volume does leave out "Wilhelm Meister", an indispensable part of his oeuvre, but considering what is included it is a nice compilation. It is great having a prose translation of both parts of "Faust". The introduction to the volume is not some "academic hoo-hah", as A Customer claims, but an informed, concise lead in to a solid collection of some of the principal works of Germany's greatest writer. The introduction does include some discussion of the translations used, so I do not understand A Customer's criticism of what overall is more than adequate for someone new to Goethe in translation or a more advanced reader.
Posted on Jan 12, 2010 6:23:17 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jul 10, 2010 8:02:35 AM PDT]
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