Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: David Constantine

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Young Goethe

By David Constantine
Goethe was born almost dead on 28 August 1749. He opened his eyes, he lived, only when the midwife rubbed his heart with wine. Perhaps that uncertain start awoke a determination in him to stay alive as long as possible. There’s a wry saying in German: Alle Menschen müssen sterben — ich auch, vielleicht (All men must die — me too, perhaps). And that’s how Goethe lived, cannily keeping out of the way of death, cramming as much life as he could into the time allowed.

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