Katharina Mommsen, Goethe’s Art of Living
Translators: John Crosetto, John Whaley, Renee M. Schell
A teacher who can awaken a sense of a single good deed or a single good poem accomplishes more than one who simply coveys an entire catalog of natural phenomena categorized by form and name.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 143
Drawing extensively on her grasp of Goethe’s vast oeuvre, Katharina Mommsen fills her book with many passages from Goethe’s works and offers some helpful commentary. The book has the following sections: Facing the World, Nature, Joy of Being Active, Art of Life and Living, Fundamental Joys of Life, Enthusiasm for the Young, and Reflections.
While reading her book, I thought several times of Sri Eknath Easwaran, whose neo-Hinduism dovetails at times with Goethe’s strongly secular orientation, particularly about relations with the young and concentrated work and productivity—
“Day and night is not an empty phrase; many nighttime hours, which I spend sleeplessly as befits the fate of my age, are dedicated not to vague and general thoughts, but to precise contemplation of what to do the following day, which in the morning I dutifully begin as far as possible to carry out. And so I perhaps do more and cleverly accomplish in the allotted days, what once was wasted time in which one justifiably thought or imagined that there was always another tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry »