Tuesday, March 03, 2015

On Goethe & the Penguin 80s

I picked up a bunch of the new Penguin 80s last week; a jarring reminder of how emphatically time passes, given I remember so clearly buying the 60s a full twenty years ago. In those days I encountered a host of writers I'd never read before, including William Boyd, John Updike and Italo Calvino, and read them on a beach during one of those languorous summer holidays allowed to the children of teachers. I think, for some reason, I read them beside a lake in the south of France, but my mind could easily be paying tricks with me. Either way, I remember my sunglasses, and Dad bringing slices of watermelon down for us to eat, and the bright orange of the Penguin spines, how the sand nested in the gutters between the pages. It was a long time ago. 

The first of the new series that I have read is the beautifully titled 'Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings', which collects a number of Goethe's musings on the self and on art. A few are lovely.

"If you can seek out good advice, it's as though you yourself have the capacity for action".
"You only really know when you know little; doubt grows with knowledge".
"Intelligent people are always the best encyclopedia".
"The world is a bell that is cracked: it clatters, but does not ring out clearly".
Go and grab the book, at 80p it's completely worth it.

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