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The “Age of Goethe,” marked by a reaction against traditional Christian beliefs, drew much of its inspiration from an ideal of aesthetic paganism that emphasized the centrality of human dignity and achievement. Largely derived from Winckelmann’s idealized interpretation of Hellenistic art, the concept of German paganism held a revelatory force for such writers as Hölderlin, Lessing, Humboldt, Schiller and Goethe himself. Henry Hatfield’s sympathetic, but not uncritical, examination of the German literature of this period provides a perceptive, informative account of one of the chief phases of European intellectual development.