The playwright and critic John Oxenford (1812-77) had an acute aptitude for languages. Although he translated both Molière and Calderón into English, he specialised in German translations and set high standards, not least with his rendering of several works by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Among the greatest literary figures of his day, Goethe combined considerable achievements as a poet, novelist and playwright with his diverse interests in natural science and politics. This two-volume translation of his autobiography first appeared in 1848-9. In Volume 2, Goethe recalls how he first arrived in the small city of Weimar, which grew into an important cultural centre, due in no small part to his extended residence there. Also included are letters from Switzerland along with notes from the time he spent in Italy during the 1880s. Goethe's Italian travels would be highly significant for his artistic development and outlook.
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