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WILHELM MEISTER'S

12754
APPRENTICESHIP

A NOVEL

FROM THE GERMAN OF

GOETHE

TRANSLATED BY

R. DILLON BOYLAN, ESQ.

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME

LONDON
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.

Igr 1855.

PREFACE.

It has been observed, by a very profound German critic,* that the periods of Goethe's outward life are most intimately connected with the eras of his literary career; and they are generally divided into three principal periods, which have been designated as the sentimental and intense, the ideal, and the elegant. In the former, Goetz von Berlichingen and Werther are the chief illustựations of his genius; and in those two works, Goethe found means to gratify his strongest youthful propensities—the one, for German things and manners; the other, for the delineation of joys and Borrows, common to humanity, which agitated his bosom. The character of his works, at this period, was national, full of that German spirit, for which Lessing fought so manfully, and whick Goethe expressed with matchless felicity.

Between the first and second eras of his literary career, an interval of twelve years elapsed, during which he produced nothing very considerable, but it was, at this time, that he visited Italy. If, as it has been said, his taste had previously inclined to the Flemish school, it was after his visit to Italy that his eyes opened to the full perception of high art. His rich and fertile spirit, which embraced at once the Lofty, the Child-like, and the Lovely, now turned to the Noble and the Elevated. In place of his former principle of naturalness or reality, now arose that of Idealitythat pure Ideality which transports nature into the regions of Idea and pure Beauty. The three great works which fall within this tra, are William Meister, Faust, and Hermann and Dorothea.

What Goethe really intended by the first of these performances must remain, to some degree, a mystery. Nevertheless, Wilhelm Meister must ever be considered as one of the Author's most

* The writer of the article Goethe in the Conversations-Lexicon, elegantly presented to the English public by Mrs. Austin, in her . Characteristics of Goethe.'

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