Books: The Schwindelkopf

ITALIAN JOURNEY (508 pp.)—J. W. Goe-fhe, translated by W. H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer—Pantheon ($25).

By the time he was 25. he had written the most successful novel in Europe's history. The Sorrows of Werther, and his suicidal young hero set off an emulatory wave of youthful self-destruction from

Vienna to Paris. By the time he was 30, he was all but running a small state. Long before his death in 1832, at the age of 83, he had become a one-man European cultural institution. Today Johann Wolfgang Goethe still is ranked with Homer, Dante...

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