Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is recognised as a giant of world literature; an exceptionally prolific and versatile writer. As a student, he composed pastoral plays in the style of the waning Rococo. With Gotz von Berlichingen, a drama conceived in the spirit of Shakespeare, he joined the avant-garde Sturm und Drang authors. His epistolary vel The Sorrows of Young Werther elicited fervent responses among those who rejected the traditions of the Enlightenment, and in his tragedy Faust, which evolved over a 60-year period, he created a prototype of the Romantic hero. Furthermore, based on his studies in literary theory, he developed a concept of 'world literature' that he hoped would foster communication among writers of different nations.
Peter Boerner was born in Estonia and educated in Germany. He was the curator of the Goethe Museum in Dusseldorf, has edited a paperback collection of Goethe's works in 45 volumes, and has published extensively in the fields of Comparative Literature and Germanic Studies. He teaches in the United States at Indiana University, Bloomington.