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Book reviews for "Boyle,_Nicholas" sorted by average review score:

Goethe the Poet and the Age: Revolution and Renunciation (1790-1803) (Goethe: The Poet and the Age)
Published in Hardcover by Oxford University Press (April, 2000)
Author: Nicholas Boyle
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Multidimensional scholarship
Oof! Be prepared to read this book at a snail's pace or lightly many times over. I don't believe I have ever read anything quite like it: multidimensional scholarship raised to another level. Nearly two centuries separate Goethe from us, but this work throws a bridge across time.

A Very Big Book on Goethe
This book is undoubtedly the best book on Goethe available in English. Boyle's descriptions of Weimar and Jena bring the late 18th and early 19th century to life. After reading the book, I had a much better grasp on Goethe and his contemporaries. I recommend the book highly to anyone seriously interested in understanding German literature. My one complaint is that the book is almost too unwieldly to read in bed. It also took several months to digest. (But well worth the effort!)

Goethe and the English-Speaking World: Essays from the Cambridge Symposium for His 250th Anniversary (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture)
Published in Hardcover by Camden House (December, 2001)
Authors: Nicholas Boyle and John Guthrie
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Erudite contributions on classic works
Collaboratively edited by Nicholas Boyle (Professor of German Literary and Intellectual History, and Head of the Department of German, Cambridge University) and John Guthrie (Fellow in German and Director of Studies in Modern Languages, New Hall, Cambridge), Goethe and the English-Speaking World: Essays for the Cambridge Symposium for His 250th Anniversary is an impressive compilation of informed and informative college-level essays and thoughts about Goethe's work, ranging from close readings of the well-known "Faust" and "Wilhelm Meister", to scrutiny of recent translations of his poetry, to a look at how Goethe's texts have affected Ireland literary culture in particular. Goethe And The English-Speaking World is strongly recommended reading for its deep, varied, and eclectic compilation of erudite contributions on the classic works of an immortal master writer.

Who Are We Now?: Christian Humanism and the Global Market from Hegel to Heaney
Published in Paperback by Univ of Notre Dame Pr (September, 1999)
Author: Nicholas Boyle
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The Best Book I've Read in Several Years
Boyle has a capacity to take in the whole of political theory, philosophy, economics, literature, culture, and faith with the deepest insight and with a powerful integration of vision and thoughtfulness. The book has been gestating for many years, but is of timely importance.

In the world of the global marketplace, Boyle maintains, we are all proletarians, 'down to the last yuppie among us.' We are--each and every one of us--consumers and producers, but globalized capitalism pressures us to disregard and forget our place as producers, encouraging us to be mere 'punctual consumers,' unattached to place, to time, to our bodies; solely 'there' as ciphers in the vast exchanges of capital. We thus become slaves to our forgetfulness, while wages, job security and opportunities, and our connectedness to our work and our control over it all diminish. Who said Marx is dead?

But Boyle is no knee-jerk marxist. He masterfully traces the course of modernity and its philosophical blindspots through the political and economic shifts of 19th and 20th century Europe, calling us to an awareness of the moral and religious underpinnings of our meaningful identity as we find it in literature and in daily life--as both producers and consumers. He unapologetically considers himself a 'Christian humanist,' and this perspective affords him a valuable and critical eye toward the dehumanizing effects of globalization, as well as the grounds for hope we may find therein.

Goethe: The Poet and the Age: The Poetry of Desire (1749-1790)
Published in Hardcover by Clarendon Pr (May, 1991)
Author: Nicholas Boyle
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Fails to live up to the promise of its subject
One would be hard pressed to find a better subject for a literary biography than Goethe. Not only is he a major literary figure, one of those few who could be said to have truly shaped their national culture, not only is his enormous oeuvre is little read outside his home country, not only is he so marginal in the minds of English readers that his name is perpetually mispronounced and his most significant work, Faust, is continually assumed to be identical to other works of the same name, but--perhaps not so incredibly considering all else I have mentioned--there is absolutely no competition in the market for biographies of this amazing man. Which makes Nicholas Boyle's work all the more unfortunate, I'm afraid.

There can be no question that Boyle is well-familiar with Goethe's work, and the context of his long life. However, he communicates neither very well. A few bright moments poke through in the text, such as the fine description of the household in which Goethe grew up, but the reader generally finds himself at a loss when attempting to picture the type of life which Goethe lived. Esoteric religious concerns and theories about the effect of the German political situation on the souls of its people cloud what could have been a fascinating look at another time and place with distracting, and ultimately useless, complexities. Even worse is Boyle's approach to Goethe's work. One should have perhaps been warned by the author's decision to regiment "life" and "work" into alternate chapters that the work would be subjected to, and ultimately consumed by, a light but continual barrage of literary theory which, while it does not reach the absurd heights of which academia is often capable, manages to render the power of Goethe's poetry and fiction effectively lifeless. That is a formidable achievement indeed, and one which literary biographers, as a whole, should strive to avoid.

I am still waiting for a biography of Goethe worthy of him, a man whose literary relevance is unquestionable--Pushkin, Hugo and Shakespeare, perhaps, are the only others who can match him, and whoever writes the story of his life should attempt to show this truth, rather than obscure it unnecessarily, as Boyle has done.

Two stars, one for the minimum, and one for what it might have been.

Goethe The Poet And The Age Volume One
If a person enjoys a scholarly biography with a lot of esoteric detail, this is a biography for him. However,If a person finds scholarly biographies tough going,he will be bored by this book.

Boyle's Goethe
Boyle's Goethe supasses just about anything available--including what one can find in German (i. e. Conrady). Granted, it is not easy going. Boyle offers extensive contextualisation of his subject and thereby provides something of an introduction to such figures as Herder for the uninitiated. If you want the latest word on Goethe, this is it.

Selected Works: Including the Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities, Italian Journey, Faust (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
Published in Hardcover by Knopf (30 May, 2000)
Authors: Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Elizabeth Mayer, Louise Bogan, David Constantine, W. H. Auden, Barker Fairley, Nicholas (Introductor) Boyle, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Badly organized and edited book
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.)

Goethe, the Poet and the Age
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (August, 2003)
Author: Nicholas Boyle
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Realism in European Literature : Essays in Honour of J. P. Stern
Published in Hardcover by Cambridge University Press (July, 1986)
Authors: Nicholas Boyle and Martin Swales
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Room for Doubt
Published in Hardcover by Vantage Press (September, 2001)
Authors: Nicholas Churchich and Veronica Boyle
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The Upstart Earl : A Study of the Social and Mental World of Richard Boyle, First Earl of Cork, 1566-1643
Published in Hardcover by Cambridge University Press (September, 1982)
Author: Nicholas Canny
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