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GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von.

Herman and Dorothea.

A poem, from the German, by Thomas Holcroft.

London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees, by Biggs and Cottle, Bristol, 1801 Stock Code: 130614
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"A profound union of the classical and the contemporary"

First edition in English, originally published in Taschenbuch für 1798 (Berlin: F. Vieweg dem älteren, issued in 1797). Goethe's epic poem "set against the background of the flight of French citizens across the Rhine and into Germany... strikes early twenty-first century readers as an almost trivial boy-meets-girl story rendered in heroic and Homeric mode"; it was, however, "an astounding critical and popular success, hailed by contemporaries as a profound union of the classical and the contemporary" (Simon Richter (ed.), The Literature of Weimar Classicism, 2005, p. 82). The fine Romantic illustrations by Franz Ludwig Catel (1778-1856) first appeared in the Berlin edition and are here re-engraved by the best British engravers of the day, including James Neagle and Anker Smith.

Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809) - "successively stable-boy, shoemaker, actor, radical activist, and author" (Oxford Companion to English Literature) - was a friend of William Godwin and had stood trial for treason in 1794. Acquitted, he nonetheless left for the continent in 1799, living at Hamburg and Paris. His blank-verse translation is accompanied by a lengthy preface and extensive notes. The publishers' advertisement (verso of last leaf) carries mention of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads, Mary Robinson's Lyrical Tales, and Coleridge's Poems.

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Octavo (172 x 106 mm). Uncut in original paper boards, printed paper label to spine.


Engraved frontispiece of a lyre by James Neagle and 9 plates by Neagle (3), Charles Warren (2), Paton Thomson, James Fittler, James Heath, and Anker Smith, after Franz Ludwig Catel.


Spine backing chipped, covers marked, very light staining to a couple of plates. A very good copy in the fragile original boards.


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