The Age of Goethe is widely viewed as the apogee of German culture. Its writers and thinkers, especially Goethe, have been exalted as role models for life and art, particularly after 1945. Yet in the 1970s, a new generation of German writers in both East and West rebelled against the postwar hagiography, taking up a tradition of imaginatively engaging with the giants of the period, casting them in major roles in their works in order to critique the nation's past and its present, a tradition that has been carried on by more contemporary writers. This is the first book-length study devoted to modern German 'author-as-character' fiction set in the Age of Goethe. It shows for the first time in a sustained manner the powerful hold the Goethezeit continues to exercise on the imagination of many of Germany's leading writers. This inner-German dialogue across the ages provides an important corrective to the dominant critical view that contemporary German-language literature is composed primarily under the sign of both globalization and the influence of mass American culture. The book will be of interest to both scholars of the Goethezeit and of contemporary German literature and culture.