Read "Conversations with Goethe"


For the past half month, my bedside book has been "Conversations with Goethe". I have been so immersed in it that I read it almost every day, even when I am busy, I can't help but spend half an hour each day to read it.

Looking back on why I bought this book, it was mainly inspired by Yu Guangzhong's "Translation is the Great Way". I think this book is well written, and Yu Guangzhong speaks highly of Zhu Guangqian in the book. In addition, I have read books like "On Beauty" before and thought that I could delve deeper into Zhu Guangqian, so I bought a batch of Zhu Guangqian's works, including this book.

This feeling of linking one person to another is like taking a leisurely walk in a courtyard and accidentally discovering one beautiful view after another.

This book, edited by Eckermann and translated by Zhu Guangqian, records Goethe's conversations in the last ten years before his death, covering a wide range of topics, from which one can see Goethe's character. Goethe is complex. While he left many outstanding works to the world, he was inevitably limited by the times and his personal circumstances. As Engels said, Goethe had the dual nature of a great poet and a German bourgeois.

And what I like is precisely his complexity as a person. If he were perfect and flawless, I might not be so interested.

This book is actually not complete, as Zhu Guangqian also mentioned. It only excerpts the parts of Eckermann's book that mainly reflect Goethe's thoughts, highlighting the positive side of Goethe, but occasionally also includes some negative conversations. For example, his defense of the aristocracy's rule and his failure to oppose the French invasion of Germany.

Overall, this book is worth reading, and Goethe as a person is worth studying. Since most of my reading time is in the evening, it feels like I am also in Goethe's house, observing the conversations between Goethe and Eckermann, experiencing Goethe's noble spirit, broad and unrestricted thinking, and pure and powerful spiritual strength...

Because the book contains so many philosophical thoughts, I won't list them one by one. I suggest going directly to read the original book. My evaluation of it is that it is the most captivating book that has made me forget about eating and sleeping so far this year.

Zhu Guangqian's translation is very comfortable to read, and the annotations are also rich, but at the same time, it carries Zhu Guangqian's strong bias. As a netizen commented: You think you are reading Goethe, but you are actually reading Eckermann. You think you are reading Eckermann, but you are actually reading Zhu Guangqian. I dare not say whether this bias is good or bad, but it has indeed attracted me enough, to the point that I plan to read Zhu Guangqian for a long time to come and then make my judgment.

There are many moments when I envy Eckermann, envy his ability to have intimate conversations with such a great figure, just like Alvitto reciting for Borges in "With Borges". They are all lucky ones.

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