Having previously tackled Nietzsche and Schiller, renowned biographer Rüdiger Safranski sets his sights on the writer considered the Shakespeare of German literature. Goethe (1749–1832), a remarkably prolific poet, playwright, novelist, and, as Safranksi emphasizes, a statesman and naturalist, first awakened not only a burgeoning German nation but also the European continent with his electrifying novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Safranski has scoured Goethe’s entire oeuvre, relying on primary sources as well as Goethe's correspondence with contemporaries and their comments to one another, to produce an illuminating portrait of the avatar of the Romantic era. Set against the cultural and political turmoil of Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Goethe, who intersected with almost every great figure of his age, is thrillingly re-created in this monumental biography. As Safranski ultimately shows, Goethe’s greatest creation, even in comparison to his masterpiece Faust, was his own life.