Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship Author:Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle (Translator) One of the most beloved and influential works of European Romanticism, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship occupied Goethe's attention for nearly twenty years before its completion in 1796. This elaborate, richly textured novel, which is in some respects autobiographical, traces the journey maturity of an emotional, naive young man. — Wilhelm... more » Meister, the son of a middle-class businessman, develops an overwhelming passion for the arts, and for the actress Mariana. By joining a troupe of strolling players, he satisfies his desire to share in the life of the theater. Much later, when he is initiated into the society of noblemen and intellectuals, his appreciation of the arts becomes more cultivated and tempered by critical judgment. His "apprenticeship" proceeds as a series of encounters, associations, and symbolic episodes that slowly illuminate his understanding of the extraordinary interplay between resolution and fate, between reason and emotion.
Carlyle's famous translation is an artistic achievement in its own right. It brilliantly captures Goethe's evolving design of action and reflection, mystery and lyricism, and the conflict of individual desires with the demands of society.« less