Goethe was probably the greatest universal genius who ever lived. Although known primarily as a poet, playright, and novelist, he was also known for his work in anatomy, botany, color, art criticism, and jurisprudence. Many people are deterred from attempting to read anything by Goethe because of his extremely penetrating intelligence and dense prose. But his travel diary, Italian Journey, is by far easier to digest than anything else by him.
The journal is a straightforward account of his sojourn to Italy as a young man between 1786 and 1789. The book has a modern ring to it, and indeed Goethe seems to foreshadow the coming of many of the things we consider "modern" today: intense self-examination, scientific methodology, and anthropology. But that's not what makes this a great book. Long after you finish it, you will be contemplating the wealth of pithy, insightful comments he makes about Italians in particular and humans in general. You will revisit portions of this book many times, and you will mark passages in it, so you can pull it down and quote it to your friends. Goethe is a fabulous feast for the intellect and a balm for the spirit.
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Excellent unabridged version
- Lena S.