Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Category: Note
The French use the word 'composition' inappropriately. The expression is degrading as applied to genuine productions of art and poetry. It is a thoroughly contemptible word, of which we should seek to get rid as soon as possible. "How can one say, Mozart has composed 'Don Juan'! Composition! As if it were a piece of cake or biscuit, which had been mixed together with eggs, flour, and sugar! It is a spiritual creation, in which the details as well as the whole are pervaded by one spirit. Consequently, the producer did not follow his own experimental impulse, but acted under ...
Category: Note
Author: Oscar Wilde
Goethe--you will not misunderstand what I say--was a German of the Germans. He loved his country--no man more so. Its people were dear to him; and he led them. Yet, when the iron hoof of Napoleon trampled upon vineyard and cornfield, his lips were silent. 'How can one write songs of hatred without hating?' he said to Eckermann, 'and how could I, to whom culture and barbarism are alone of importance, hate a nation which is among the most cultivated of the earth and to which I owe so great a part of my own cultivation?' This note, sounded in ...
Category: Philosophy
Preliminary note The outstanding feature of the remarkable "Conversations with Eckermann" is this, that the compilation furnishes an altogether unique record of the working of Goethe's mature mind. For Goethe's age at the period when the "Conversations" begin is seventy-three, and eighty-two when they end. John Peter Eckermann published his work in 1836. In 1848 appeared an additional portion. Eckermann, born at Winsen, in Hanover, was the son of a woollen draper. He received an excellent education, and studied art, under Ramber, in Hanover, but soon became enamoured of poetry through the influence of K├Ârner and of Goethe. He became ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Preliminary note The correspondence of Goethe with his friends, especially his voluminous letters to his friend Zelter, will always be resorted to by readers who wish for intimate knowledge of the innermost processes of the great poet's mind. Zelter was himself an extraordinary man. By trade he was a stonemason, but he became a skilled musical amateur, and a most versatile and entertaining critic. To him fell the remarkable distinction of becoming the tutor of that musical genius, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, while he also acquired the glory of being "the restorer of Bach to the Germans." Like Eckermann, the other ...
Category: Arts & Literature
Preliminary note As "Werther" and "Wilhelm Meister" belong to the earlier and to the middle periods of Goethe's literary activity, so the following selections fall naturally into the last division of his life. The death of Schiller in 1805 had given a blow to his affections which even his warm relationship with other friends could not replace, and hereafter he begins to concentrate more and more upon himself to the completion of those works which he had had in mind and preparation through so many years, the greatest of which was to be the "Faust." In "Poetry and Truth from ...
Category: Note
It is an extraordinary fact that man in himself, so far as he avails himself of his sound mind, is the greatest and most precise physical apparatus that can be. And it is in fact the greatest evil of the newer physics that experiments are, as it were, separated from man himself, so that nature is recognised only in what is ascertained by artificial instruments. It is exactly so with calculation. Much is true which cannot be computed, just as much can never be experimentally demonstrated. Man, however, stands so high that that which otherwise admits of no representation is ...