Maxims and Reflections (Penguin Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1999/3/1
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Throughout his long, hectic and astonishingly varied life, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) would jot down his passing thoughts on theatre programmes, visiting cards, draft manuscripts and even bills … Goethe was probably the last true ‘Renaissance Man’. Although employed as a Privy Councillor at the Duke of Weimar’s court, where he helped oversee major mining, road-building and irrigation projects, he also painted, directed plays, carried out research in anatomy, botany and optics – and still found time to produce masterpieces in every literary genre. His fourteen hundred Maxims and Reflections reveal some of his deepest thought on art, ethics, literature and natural science, but also his immediate reactions to books, chance encounters or his administrative work. Although variable in quality, the vast majority have a freshness and immediacy which vividly conjure up Goethe the man. They make an ideal introduction to one of the greatest of European writers.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt-on-Main in 1749. He studied at Leipzig, where he showed interest in the occult, and at Strassburg, where Herder introduced him to Shakespeare’s works and to folk poetry. He produced some essays and lyrical verse, and at twenty-two wrote Götz von Berlichingen, a play which brought him national fame and established him in the current Sturm und Drang movement. This was followed by the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774, which was an even greater success.Goethe began work on Faust, and Egmont, another tragedy before being invited to join the government of Weimar. His interest in the classical world led him to leave suddenly for Italy in 1786 and the Italian Journey recounts his travels there. Iphigenia in Tauris and Torquato Tasso, classical dramas, were written at this time. Returning to Weimar, Goethe started the second part of Faust, encouraged by Schiller. In 1806 he married Christiane Vulpius. During this late period he finished his series of Wilhelm Master books and wrote many other works, including The Oriental Divan (1819). He also directed the State Theatre and worked on scientific theories in evolutionary botany, anatomy and color. Goethe completed Faust in 1832, just before he died.
その結果 導き出される「当為」も さして新味のあるものでは
You don't have to travel all around the world in order to understand that the sky is blue everywhere.（空が青いということを知るのに全ての世界中を旅することはない。）
isn't merely diminshed, it's disappear from sight.
James Joyce punningly said that the great masters were "Dainty, Gouty, and Shopkeeper". T.S. Eliot was ready to agree with 2/3 of that estimate, but he disliked Goethe, mostly because Goethe was indifferent to Christianity (though not necessarily to some form of Theism).
I admit that Goethe has something of the quality of a stuffed shirt. His Weimar days are hard to fathom, why he wanted to be an official, and often he seems to be speaking ex cathedra when his opinions are just garden-variety stuff.
If you don't read German, his lyric poetry is a closed book, in spite of David Luke's excellent translations in a Penguin paperback. His scientific pursuits are more of biographical than intrinsic interest, and FAUST is best digested in small amounts (and Book 2 can be safely ignored).
Still, there's enough in his novels and books like the one I'm reviewing to make him interesting to read. He's harder to appreciate than Dante, and of course Shakespeare is the major figure in Joyce's trio. Nevertheless, it's easy to understand why his status was once greater than it can be to a modern common reader.
here is a little taste:
"...hatred is active displeasure,envy is passive,hence one not be suprised when envy turns into hatred..." #247 from ART AN ANTIQUITY
"...a merry companion is like a cart to give us a lift along our way..."
#236 from ART AND ANTIQUITY
"...when a rainbow last more than a quarter of an hour,we stop looking at it...#161- From ART AND ANTIQUITY
I think it would be helpful to a potential reader to review here some of the Maxims and Reflections, with comments.
Some are simplistic: "Behaviour is a mirror in which everyone shows his image."
Some are interesting, and one will see the truth in them upon some reflection. These may not really educate, but they are interesting in themselves: "There is something horrifying about a man of outstanding excellence of whom stupid people are proud."
Some are statements of what most of us would agree with easily, but they are important because they shed light upon the man and his concerns. For example, we often see how concerned he is with certain kinds of people being dangerous: "Fools and intelligent people are equally undamaging. Half-fools and half-sages, these are the most dangerous of all."
Some are incomprehensible: "Work makes the journeyman."
Some are enigmatic, at least to me: "Wisdom is to be found only in truth."
Some are observations that are not too profound but which will serve as food for thought: "Human nature needs to be numbed from time to time, but without being put to sleep; hence smoking, spirits, opiates."
Some are simply personal beliefs, and we need to know that Goethe beleived such-and-such a thing: "Painting and tattooing the body is a return to animality."
Some are profound truths or observations, and will serve as food for a lot of thought: "Time is itself an element." "Mysteries do not as yet amount to miracles." "Truth is contrary to our nature, not so error, and this for a very simple reason: truth demands that we should recognize ourselves as limited, error flatters us that, in one way or another, we are unlimited." In this last one, for example, we get an idea about the kind of simple, pragmatic reasoning the great man often employed.
Some are statements by others, in other languages, and it is an interesting exercise to try and see why the great man included these in the Maxims and Reflections: " L'amour est un vrai recommenceur. [Love is truly a new beginning.] "
Some are classic maxims, which are oft-quoted, even today: "There is nothing more dreadful than active ignorance." This example also serves to show that the translation is really bad in places: that phrase *really* deserves to be translated "ignorance in action".
And some are difficult to comprehend - but when makes the effort, they turn out to be absolute gems: "The first and last thing demanded of genius is love of truth."