Erich Heller is probably the finest critic of German literature now writing. As evidence one need only mention The Disinherited Mind and Thomas Mann: The Ironic German. These are works which illuminate the literary consciousness at many levels, combining scholarly precision with highly adventurous forays into the psychology and artistic development of their subjects, and which manage, as so many learned studies do not, to capture a particular sensibility and its relevance to culture in general. Alive, original, acute, Heller's judgments have moreover a wide philosophical range, a talent eminently displayed in the seven superb essays under discussion here. Two of them tackle the thorny area of Romanticism and Realism and show the interlocking paradoxical nature of each. Three of them consider the meaning of Hegel, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein especially as reflected through the dilemma of human inwardness, whether in Hamlet, Rilke's Elegies, or in religious, historical, philological questions of salvation and ethics. The first essay elaborates on the various versions of the Faust legend as encountered in Marlowe, Goethe and Mann, and the second achieves the extraordinary feat of making Schiller's poetic dramas and ""Beautiful Soul"" ideal a fascinating and moving experience. The whole collection is one of imposing dimensions, profound, gracefully written, thorough.