(Joseph McCabe) (1912)
In the years before Kaiser Wilhelm turned the English off anything German, this stodgy but comprehensive life is a good introduction to the Teutonic Shakespeare. From 28 August 1749 through Faust Part I, numerous flings with strait-laced ladies (all lovers of literature), festschrifts in Weimar, an Italian pilgrimage, the search for a Germany, mateship with Schiller, the French Revolution and Faust II, to the last cry for “More light!”, the story carries you along and hopefully leads you to the work. And what work! He is the post-classical bridge to the new literature and he remains a Giant, diminished (if he is diminished) only by neglect.
There will come a day when we go back to Goethe et al, when we discard the urgent and return to the important.