An erudite scholar interprets the wisdom of Goethe, his thoughts and reflections on the world in which he lived, which serve in some measure to explain his universal genius. The author describes first Goethe the scientist, his visual observations of nature, his approach and attitudes towards science, his contributions in the varied fields of anatomy, botany, optics, geology, etc. The balance of the book considers him in the philosophic and artistic spheres. He sees his philosophy as product of his own genius, but discusses the influence of his contemporaries. He weighs Goethe's ideas on religion, his concepts of God, his attitude towards organized Christianity, his theories of the demonic. Later sections deal with Goethe's concept of polarity, of history, of man's place in the world. Of particular interest to students of criticism is the chapter on aesthetics. A summarizing chapter appraises Goethe's role as genius in his epoch. A deeply perceptive exploration of Goethe's poetry, writings, recorded conversations, and a literate examination of the wellsprings of his genius. Marred by stilted prose, but of considerable value to Goethe scholars.