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Maxims and Reflections

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  344 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Goethe was probably the last true ‘Renaissance Man’. Although employed as a Privy Councillor at the Duke of Weimar’s court, where he helped oversee major mining, road-building and irrigation projects, he also painted, directed plays, carried out research in anatomy, botany and optics — and still found time to produce masterpieces in every literary genre. His 1,413 maxims a ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1833)
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Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
Thoughts and quips from Germany's most prolific polymath - 590 in all - plus a bonus section of wonderful reflections on Mother Nature. Also features critiques on writers from Kalidas to Shakespeare.

Very difficult to cull these faves :

9. Unqualified activity, of whatever kind, leads at last to bankruptcy.

12. Our plans and designs should be so perfect in truth and beauty, that in touching them the world could only mar. We should thus have the advantage of setting right what is
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
To communicate is natural; to accept what is communicated is an acquired art.

What kind of shortcomings are we allowed to keep, indeed cultivate in ourselves? The kind that flatter, rather than hurt, other people.

Passions are faults or virtues, only heightened ones.

There is no way of more surely avoiding the world than by art, and it is by art that you form the surest link with it.

It is easier to imagine the mental state of a man who labours under total error than the state of mind of someon
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Goethe is a combination Emerson, Whitman, James, Franklin, and whoever might be America’s best playwright. He is the kind of artist for whom the adjective Renaissance was invented: poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, philosopher, and engineer. He probably did windows and could parallel park a coach pulled by six horses as well. This slender volume is filled with aphorisms, observations, maxims, and various other nuggets of wisdom. Witness some randomly pulled examples: “Error is continually r ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book that one reads start to finish, but some great observations to take in.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
İ love this reflections book- İ read it and read it since 15 years and can't get enough of it- it is so rich with moving thoughts
"In some quiet hour when they were sociably together, Faith, Love and Hope felt an urge to fashion something new; they set to work together and created a lovable new quality, a higher kind of Pandora: Patience."

This book was quite ineffective. I don't know what I really expected when I got it from the bookstore and saw it's cheaper compared to other books. Subconsciously, I was probably hoping for another perspective a la Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. To be fair, Goethe's 1,413 Maxims and Reflec
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a pleasant, quick read.
Arthur Cravan
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: german, philosophy
Nah, I don't know. This book irked me. I got a lot of neat sayings from it - I'll type them up later & add some, if I remember - but it's just not me. It had little spurts of things that resembled sweet pathways to me, but a lot of it felt like a slog. I think the big difference is that Goethe was an old man, & I am a young man. Also, I think it's fair to say I much more enjoyed the maxims than the reflections. Some of them being broken apart made no sense to me - they literally don't wo ...more
Rosa Ramôa
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Igualdade não é Liberdade

Todos os homens são iguais em sociedade. Nenhuma sociedade se pode fundamentar noutra coisa que não seja a noção de igualdade. Acima de tudo não pode fundamentar-se no conceito de liberdade. A igualdade é qualquer coisa que quero encontrar na sociedade, ao passo que a liberdade, nomeadamente a liberdade moral de me dispor à subordinação, transporto-a comigo.
A sociedade que me acolhe tem portanto que me dizer: «É teu dever ser igual a todos nós». E não pode acrescentar
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
The introduction makes an excellent accidental case that this is a printout of Goethe's Facebook status updates:

"Goethe probably regarded his reflections as miniature creative language events to be shared with his readers, reflecting the time- and life-sequence of his personal reactions."

So, you have wonderful little maxims like this:

"How could a man claim to be a master of his subject if he has taught nothing that's unnecessary!"


"Bonus vir semper tiro."

And you also have head scratchers and
Erik Rostad
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a pretty short book of sayings that is divided into four sections - Life and Character, Literature and Art, Science, and Nature: Aphorisms. Some of the sayings were pithy and enjoyable, others were more complex and required some chewing. It's sort of like reading the book of Proverbs. There's not a general storyline, so you could pick it up at random times and just take in a few sayings. While reading it, I was thinking this would be a great book to leave by the toilet to take a few page ...more
Ossian's Dream
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Goethe the man is often more interesting than his words, manly and freedom loving maxims nonetheless.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A compilation of thoughts.
Aaron Schuschu
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very typical of German philosophers. Painful, inconvenient truths from an original angle. The type of thing that makes me cry at the bottom of a bottle.
Eustacia Tan
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nlb-ereads
I'm not sure why I decided to borrow this book, but I did. Basically, it's a collection of Goethe's passing thoughts, which is really strange because I don't think I've read Goethe before (I know, I'm terrible. I should probably remedy that soon).

Maxims and Reflections is basically a book of quotes. Some, I really liked, such as:
"Books, we find, are like new acquaintances. To begin with, we are highly delighted if we find an area of general agreement, if we feel a friendly response concerning so
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Was Goethe an example of the universal man, or merely the embodiment of the German spirit of his era? I don’t know. I only know that I struggle to admire and enjoy Goethe. Perhaps I’m insufficiently Teutonic. Forgive me, there are worthy passages here – I did my share of marking up the text – but the good stuff is scattered amongst a great deal of dry and (to my mind) unnecessary stuffing.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trabalho
Espero que isto me ajude a desenvolver melhor a segunda etapa de minha pesquisa.

Algumas hipóteses:

1. O fenômeno originário é a particularidade elevada de Burckhardt.
2. O movimento histórico é um movimento de metamorfose.

“Fenômeno originário: ideal, real, simbólico, idêntico.
Empiria: crescimento ilimitado do mesmo; daí esperança de ajuda, desespero quanto à perfeição.
Fenômeno originário:
Ideal enquanto o derradeiro cognoscível,
Real enquanto conhecido,
Simbólico porque compreende todos
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I didn't particulary enjoy this book. It could have used more notes to explain Goethe's thoughts on the topics he covers. While there are plenty of notes about people that are mentioned in his reflections, there wasn't anything to explain what he was thinking of about optics, phenomenoms, etc. Perhaps if I had studied thought during this era and had a philosophy background I could have understood the book better.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I wish there was an option to give a book "0" stars. I just don't believe that one man is responsible for 1413 maxims and reflections that all seem to be cleverly obvious. I couldn't finish this, but it's possible I will since Experiment #6 for Creative Non-Fiction Workshop has to be influenced by one of these. There's got to be a few good ones...
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Alex Kartelias
Some of his thoughts were inspiring and noteworthy, but others were sexist and cliche. Regardless, he's an amazing polymath who is someone I look up to.
Come Musica
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tante frasi da leggere in piccole dosi, su cui soffermarsi a riflettere e poi tradurre in azione.
Zachary Frazier
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May 20, 2018
Sergio Caredda
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Aug 20, 2018
J. Hartmann
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Apr 11, 2013
Jenniffer Baltzell
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Jan 03, 2011
This is a satisfying collection of insights from Goethe. Like any collection of this nature, occasionally one or two maxims will fall flat or is jarring -- out of context. But there is enough light within to make the journey worthwhile.

Here's a favorite:

Love of truth shows itself in this, that a person knows how to find and value the good in everything.
Christopher Rishel
rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2017
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Apr 13, 2012
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page number 2 12 Jun 28, 2017 12:41AM  
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer. George Eliot called him "Germany's greatest man of letters... and the last true polymath to walk the earth." Goethe's works span the fields of poetry, drama, literature, theology, humanism, and science. Goethe's magnum opus, lauded as one of the peaks of world literature, is the two-part drama Faust. Goethe's other well-known literary works include h ...more
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” 239 likes
“We look back on our life as a thing of broken pieces, because our mistakes and failures are always the first to strike us, and outweigh in our imagination what we have accomplished and attained.” 26 likes
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