Skip to main content


Showing posts from May 18, 2014

how goethe became a loser, too

"Eckermann – the best prose work of our literature, the highest point reached by the German humanities” – Nietzsche Eckermann’s Conversations with Goethe in the Last Years of his Life was an instant nineteenth century classic, mined for quotes not only in Germany, but in England and America. Margaret Fuller, with Emerson’s encouragement, published an English translation, and Emerson incorporated a number of Goethe’s remarks in the book into his essays. Strangely, I have the impression that, at least in the Anglosphere, it is now rarely read. Boswell’s Life of Johnson is still read, but for us, Boswell is even more in focus than he was in the 18 th century, since we have his papers and letters. In the Life of Johnson, Boswell seems plausible – he teases Johnson, he opposes him, he loves him, but he is very separate from him. Eckermann is a more… ectoplasmic creature. He seems to have been entirely absorbed by his sage. In Avita Ronell’s essay about Eckermann, she makes hi