This is a well-researched, engaging presented, and excellent investigation of various essays on art by conceivably the most important German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Burgard is at his best in close textual analyses, showing how Goethe performs what he says, thereby enabling us to see Goethe's discourse on style (a key term in this study) informing the author's 'style'. Burgard succeeds in proving the importance for the rest of Goethe's oeuvre of this relatively poorly investigated body of texts; he elevates the essays to the rank of sophistication that has been generally granted the plays, vels, and poetry. Idioms of Uncertainty may be favorably compared with Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy's recently translated L'absolu litteraire; Burgard does for the essay what this pair of authors do for the genre of the fragment. --- Alice Kuzniar, University of North Carolina.
Peter J. Burgard is Assistant Professor of German at Harvard University.