In 1878 the Victorian critic Matthew Arnold wrote: 'Goethe is the greatest poet of modern times... because having a very considerable gift for poetry, he was at the same time, in the width, depth, and richness of his criticism of life, by far our greatest modern man.' In this Very Short Introduction Ritchie Robertson covers the life and work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): scientist, administrator, artist, art critic and supreme literary writer in a vast variety of genres. Looking at Goethe's poetry, novels and drama pieces, as well as his travel writing, autobiography, and essays on art and aesthetics, Robertson analyses some of the key themes in his works: love, nature, religion and tragedy. Dispelling the misconception of Goethe as a sedate Victorian sage, Robertson shows how much of his art was rooted in turbulent personal conflicts, and draws on recent research to present a complete portrait of the scientific work and political activity which accompanied Goethe's writings. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.