Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "The camera's only job is to get out of the way of making photographs."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Author's Preface

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    As a preface to the present work, which, perhaps, more than another,
    requires one, I adduce the letter of a friend, by which so serious an
    undertaking was occasioned.

    "We have now, my dear friend, collected the twelve parts of your
    poetical works, and, on reading them through, find much that is known,
    much that is unknown; while much that had been forgotten is revived by
    this collection. These twelve volumes standing before us in uniform
    appearance, we cannot refrain from regarding as a whole; and one would
    like to sketch therefrom some image of the author and his talents. But
    it cannot be denied, considering the vigor with which he began his
    literary career, and the length of time which has since elapsed, that a
    dozen small volumes must appear incommensurate. Nor can one forget,
    that, with respect to the detached pieces, they have mostly been called
    forth by special occasions, and reflect particular external objects, as
    well as distinct grades of inward culture; while it is equally clear,
    that temporary moral and æsthetic maxims and convictions prevail in
    them. As a whole, however, these productions remain without connection;
    nay, it is often difficult to believe that they emanate from one and the
    same writer.

    "Your friends, in the mean time, have not relinquished the inquiry, and
    try, as they become more closely acquainted with your mode of life and
    thought, to guess many a riddle, to solve many a problem; indeed, with
    the assistance of an old liking, and a connection of many years'
    standing, they find a charm even in the difficulties which present
    themselves. Yet a little assistance here and there would not be
    unacceptable, and you cannot well refuse this to our friendly
    entreaties.

    "The first thing, then, we require, is that your poetical works,
    arranged in the late edition according to some internal relations, may
    be presented by you in chronological order, and that the states of life
    and feeling which afforded the examples that influenced you, and the
    theoretical principles by which you were governed, may be imparted in
    some kind of connection. Bestow this labor for the gratification of a
    limited circle, and perhaps it may give rise to something that will be
    entertaining and useful to an extensive one. The author, to the most
    advanced period of his life, should not relinquish the advantage of
    communicating, even at a distance, with those whom affection binds to
    him; and if it is not granted to every one to step forth anew, at a
    certain age, with surprising and powerful productions, yet just at that
    period of life, when knowledge is most perfect, and consciousness most
    distinct, it must be a very agreeable and re-animating task to treat
    former creations as new matter, and work them up into a kind of Last
    Part, which may serve once more for the edification of those who have
    been previously edified with and by the artist."

    This desire, so kindly expressed, immediately awakened within me an
    inclination to comply with it: for if, in the early years of life, our
    passions lead us to follow our own course, and, in order not to swerve
    from it, we impatiently repel the demands of others; so, in our later
    days, it becomes highly advantageous to us, should any sympathy excite
    and determine us, cordially, to new activity. I therefore instantly
    undertook the preparatory labor of separating the poems, both great and
    small, of my twelve volumes, and of arranging them according to years. I
    strove to recall the times and circumstances under which each had been
    produced. But the task soon grew more difficult, as full explanatory
    notes and illustrations were necessary to fill up the chasms between
    those which had already been given to the world. For, in the first
    place, all on which I had originally exercised myself were wanting, many
    that had been begun and not finished were also wanting, and of many that
    were finished even the external form had completely disappeared, having
    since been entirely reworked and cast into a different shape. Besides, I
    had also to call to mind how I had labored in the sciences and other
    arts, and what, in such apparently foreign departments, both
    individually and in conjunction with friends, I had practised in
    silence, or had laid before the public.

    All this I wished to introduce by degrees for the satisfaction of my
    well-wishers, but my efforts and reflections always led me farther on;
    since while I was anxious to comply with that very considerate request,
    and labored to set forth in succession my internal emotions, external
    influences, and the steps which, theoretically and practically, I had
    trod, I was carried out of my narrow private sphere into the wide world.
    The images of a hundred important men, who either directly or indirectly
    had influenced me, presented themselves to my view; and even the
    prodigious movements of the great political world, which had operated
    most extensively upon me, as well as upon the whole mass of my
    contemporaries, had to be particularly considered. For this seems to be
    the main object of biography,--to exhibit the man in relation to the
    features of his time, and to show to what extent they have opposed or
    favored his progress; what view of mankind and the world he has formed
    from them, and how far he himself, if an artist, poet, or author, may
    externally reflect them. But for this is required what is scarcely
    attainable; namely, that the individual should know himself and his
    age,--himself, so far as he has remained the same under all
    circumstances; his age, as that which carries along with it, determines
    and fashions, both the willing and the unwilling: so that one may
    venture to pronounce, that any person born ten years earlier or later
    would have been quite a different being, both as regards his own culture
    and his influence on others.

    In this manner, from such reflections and endeavors, from such
    recollections and considerations, arose the present delineation; and
    from this point of view, as to its origin, will it be the best enjoyed
    and used, and most impartially estimated. For any thing further it may
    be needful to say, particularly with respect to the half-poetical, half-
    historic, mode of treatment, an opportunity will, no doubt, frequently
    occur in the course of the narrative.
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Johann Wolfgang von Goethe essay and need some advice, post your Johann Wolfgang von Goethe essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?