Translating the World is a handsome book full of ideas and information. Birgit Tautz has read widely and shows enthusiasm, even fervor, for timely topics and for the period from “ca. 1760 to 1830” (vii). A visually attractive bibliography and exhaustive index complete this attempt to revise our understanding of literary history around 1800 and to show how that history resonates, even resounds, two hundred years later.

Among the book’s many ideas and topics, two are predominant. One is the contrast between the significance and reputation of literature in Hamburg and Weimar and “how Weimar’s literature and culture came to eclipse Hamburg’s” (5). Tautz investigates the paradox that Hamburg, though large and worldly, lost its literary presence in the world after the eighteenth century, whereas provincial Weimar drew in the world through its role as Germany’s “literary capital” (158). Tautz says of...

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