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The Best Goethe Quotes (English)
Die besten Goethe-Zitate (Deutsch)
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These quotes are for the here and now. In German and in English, often newly translated, always with a source. This is a Goethe for today, alive and kicking — writing about love, life and how to stay true to yourself.
About our translations
Often we come up with our own translation from scratch. Other times, we begin with a 19th century translation and tweak it, sometimes more, sometimes less. And sometimes we find a previously published translation with no copyright restrictions that’s already perfect. If you want to know the translator or the source of a specific quote, you can search for it by number or keywords. For mobile, use the general search function, for laptop/desktop use the search widget at the upper right.
More by Goethe
If you want to read more by Goethe, here are some suggestions:
- Maxims and Reflections. More than 1,000 sayings.
- The Sorrows of Young Werther. Novel. An unhappy love story that made Goethe famous overnight.
- Faust (Part One). Play. Goethe’s tragic masterpiece about a scholar who makes a deal with the devil and unintentionally causes the death of his beloved. A book about the danger in the search for absolute knowledge while losing your humanity.
- Poems. Goethe is not only famous for his novels and plays. He wrote some of the most beautiful poems in German language. But, alas, translations of poems are always iffy.
- From my Life: Poetry/Fiction and Truth. Goethe’s autobiography of his first 26 years.
- Conversations with Goethe. A record of his conversations with J.P. Eckermann during the last nine years of Goethe’s life. Nietzsche famously called it “the best German book there is.”
More about Goethe
It’s not easy to find online information about Goethe in English. Here’s a selection of resources we thought might be helpful and interesting.
Introduction to life and work
– If you feel super lazy and don’t know anything about Goethe, an easy way to start learning about him is to watch this fun 10-minute video, produced by The School of Life.
– “What’s great about Goethe?” asks Adam Kirsch and he gives a convincing answer in his article in The New Yorker here.
– Goethetc has been going strong for more than 10 years. The short articles are free of academic jargon and always provide interesting reading on a wide variety of topics – one of our favorites is about Goethe and Jane Austen and another is on Goethe’s Lotte in Seoul.
Anthony Jensen’s article about Goethe in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a nice overview about Goethe’s worldview, his philosophical influences and his cultural impact.
– A more detailed approach is used by the recently started Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts which – as the title indicates – investigates the usage of specific concepts by Goethe.
– If you would like to connect to other avid Goethe readers outside of social media, check out the numerous Goethe societies around the world here.