Reviewed by C J Schüler in The Independent:
In this lucid and engaging book, John Armstrong blows away the dust from this most misunderstood of major writers, and reveals a fascinating and often likeable figure whose work is of the utmost relevance to the problems we face today. And if Love, Life, Goethe is more of a straightforward cradle-to-grave biography than its subtitle might lead one to expect, Armstrong, a philosopher at Melbourne University, never loses sight of his central idea: Goethe’s belief that the job of the artist is to help people to live happily and well.
It is ironic, then, that Goethe first shot to international fame, at the age of 25, with a novel that became the handbook for moody, alienated youth everywhere: The Sorrows of Young Werther. Yet Goethe’s intention was not to glorify romantic disaffection but to warn against it.