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Conversations with Goethe (Milestones of thought) (edition 1964)

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Author)

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402541,278 (4.15)1
German poet, dramatist, novelist, translator, scientist, and musician, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was the last universal genius of the West and a master of world literature, the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther, Wilhelm Meister, and Faust. Nowhere else can one encounter a more penetrating, many-sided, and personal Goethe than in the extraordinary Conversations (1836) by Johann Peter Eckermann (1792-1854), a German author and scholar as well as Goethe's friend, archivist, and editor. Although only thirty-one when first meeting the seventy-four-year-old literary giant, Eckermann quickly devoted himself to assisting Goethe during his last nine years while never failing to record their far-ranging discourse. Here are Goethe's thoughts on Byron, Carlyle, Delacroix, Hegel, Shakespeare, and Voltaire, as well as his views on art, architecture, astronomy, the Bible, Chinese literature, criticism, dreams, ethics, freedom, genius, imagination, immortality, love, mind over body, sculpture, and much more. Eckermann's Conversations--comparable to Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson--allows Goethe to engage the reader in a voice as distinct as it is entrancing.… (more)
Member:TheCriticalTimes
Title:Conversations with Goethe (Milestones of thought)
Authors:Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Author)
Info:Ungar (1964), 271 pages
Collections:Loaned from Library
Rating:*****
Tags:Non Fiction, History

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Conversations of Goethe with Johann Peter Eckermann by Johann Peter Eckermann

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Imagine that you have an eccentric uncle, and let's say that uncle is very much like Leonardo da Vinci. You get to know your estranged uncle later in life when you're in your late 20s and he's in his 70s. Now it turns out that your curious uncle lives in a period where new ways of thinking and new types of knowledge, music and writing is sprouting up all over the place and as it happens he is right in the middle of it. He's also a really good story teller and he has asked you to come by every evening for a nice dinner and a chat at the fireplace, so that you can write down all the insane stuff he says. You discover that a lot of it is crazy but much of it is also very beautiful and well thought out. You yourself are a pretty good writer and you decided to write down your fireside conversations, not as a diary but almost as a novel or narrative record. That's you have here, a bunch of curious, interesting and entertaining anecdotes from and about everybody's favorite eccentric uncle: Goethe.

For me even the way Eckermann wrote down his anecdotes makes me smile and giggle. You feel like your uncle stops by one evening and goes: did I ever tell you about that time I told Napoleon I didn't like his furniture? Yes, just like that. In all honesty Goethe comes over as an arrogant self absorbed 'genius', but you can tell he doesn't take everything all that seriously and he also shows a lot of humanity and kindness.

I was at first doubtful that this version of the conversations would be well translated. But I must admit it works out very well. The style is loose and accessible and feels very much like the original in how it communicates both the relationship of the two men as well as the personality of Goethe. If you're into history but you want to discover the people behind the famous personages, then this is an excellent work. If I were teaching history I would keep this at the ready to show any student that the past is as lively and interesting as is today. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Oct 5, 2019 |
M100 General Works
  TLH7718 | Dec 15, 2017 |
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Johann Peter Eckermannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang vonsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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I arrived here a few days ago, but did not see Goethe till to-day.
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