Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe (1749 - 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of meters and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy and color: and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters and nearly 3,000 drawings by him exist. Charles Timothy Brooks (1813 - 1883) was a noted American translator of German works, a poet, Transcendentalist and a Unitarian pastor. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, he graduated at Harvard in 1832, then studied theology and in 1835 began to preach in Nahant, Massachusetts. He served as a preacher in various New England towns until he became pastor of the Unitarian church in Newport, Rhode Island on June 4, 1837, where he remained until his death in 1883.In addition to his translations, he published theological writings, contributed to The Dial, a transcendentalist publication and wrote a biography of William Ellery Channing, another Unitarian minister in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Faust legend is better known to English-speaking readers through Marlow's tragedy than through the later drama from Goethe, Germany's greatest author. Various 20th-century translators have tried to make Goethe's most famous work palatable to contemporary English audiences. With its facing German text, Walter Kaufmann's 1961 translation is most valuable for the serious student. Here, Greenberg has come closest to a version that might encourage stage productions. It boasts outstanding poetry and the use of the American vernacular, which makes the flavor of the original accessible to non-German speaking readers. Recommended for subject collections but also for smaller libraries wanting a good translation of this classic author.-- Ingrid Schierling, Univ. of Colorado at Colorado Springs
This difficult work has defeated many translators, not only as a result of its sophisticated verse style and varying tone but because it has dramatic flaws that Goethe's wit and lyric powers, embedded in the original, made beside the point. Greenberg's brief introduction considers this history of translators' failures and submits that what previous attempts have lacked is a natural idiom; this translator attempts ``a free-ranging diction, meters looser, often, than those Goethe uses, and a much looser rhyming made up of half rhymes, assonance, and consonance.'' Yet Greenberg's spirit of compromise is hard to accept, especially his slackening of meter. Rhymes, for their part, are usually much less than ``half,'' and the mangled stresses, particularly at line breaks, are a great loss. These disappointments are compounded by how little success Greenberg makes of his vaunted natural idiom, as shown in such lines as ``So let's hear the terms, what the fine print is; / Having you for a servant's a tricky business'' and ``Now try and tell me, you know-it-alls, / There's no such thing as miracles!'' Rather than engaging a living language, he seems to look for idiom in pastiches of jargon. (Dec.)