Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Goethe

Here we go again on another novel. This time I got a book from an author that I always enjoyed reading very much. I've never blogged about any of his books but Goethe was always one of my favorites writers. Well not only a writer but, one of the things that I always admired on him was how vast of a human being he was. Writer, poet, philosopher, botanist, physicist, mystic, and so on. I used to like him so much that when I was living in England I traveled to Germany once and went to Weimar (where he used to live) only because I wanted to visit the place where Goethe have lived. Weimar is actually an very charming and beautiful city and there you can visit the house where he used to live which is a museum nowadays. But anyway, I actually first meet Goethe when I was reading Nietzsche. As I said in another post before, Nietzsche was the first big philosophical influence I received, and I was amazed by the fact that he always treated Goethe almost as a friend even though they really never meet in life. This coming from Nietzsche was always very special and very emotional because it was one of the most rare things he used to do. His philosophy was made by basically attacking everyone and everything all the time, and in the Middle of all that rage to find someone who gave him a feeling of admiration and even thankfulness and kindness is blessing. It's always very interesting when Nietzsche talks about Goethe. So that's how I got in contact with him. Anyway, possibly 8 or 9 years ago I read a short but famous novel that he wrote named "The sorrows of the young Werther" which is a very simple but nevertheless very touching and charming story. A bit later I read his master-piece "Faust" which is obviously amazing. It really is, specially the end which I won't tell here not to destroy the surprise if you want to read it, but anyway there Goethe shows a lot of his genius, by writing the whole story in poetry and moreover being it a hell of a story with a lot of mystic elements touching subjects of life transcendence all the time. It is worth a go.
OK but the post here today is about a book I've just finished reading a couple of months ago. Even though Faust is mostly regarded as his main work, I confess I found "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" much better. I truly mean it. The story on this book is simply extraordinary in all its aspects. It is a big book where the story takes many different directions. Initially the main character Wilhelm is struggling at home with his father about his love for the theater but also about what he thinks to be an empty life that he has there as a businessman, and then he decides to leave his town to start a new life in a sort of self-realization journey that obviously he had now idea how it would go. Lots of things happen. He joins an travelling theater group, there are love stories, he meets lots of new people, and everything happening always with a profound sense of some unknown deeper life meaning going on the background. Goethe is a master at doing it and in this book particularly this unknown deeper meaning feeling gets its maximum expression, even showing some big twists later on more towards the end of the story. It happens in the later chapters of the book that as the story goes the very past that was told in the earlier chapters start to be rewritten and Wilhelm because of that enters in a very strong spiritual self-changing moment of his life. 
Summarizing, over the whole book you have the impression that the story is being created by an absolute genius. Really, all dialogues, all the richness in the details both of the space and time where the story was happening. You really get a sense of a lot of things about eighteenth century Germany, but also you get always profound remarks about the struggle towards understanding or more precisely towards giving some kind of sense to existence. Goethe was brillant at that in this book. I have no doubt to say that so far this is undoubtedly the best novel I have ever read. It is honestly even better than all DostoiƩvski's books I've read previously. It is definitely Goethe's book that I most liked. It pleased me more than Faust for a few reasons, but mostly because I think it is more down to earth, less fantastic but still absolutely profound and genius. Goethe himself was always in possibly my top 5 favorite writers but after this book for sure he is now at the top, maybe together with DostoiƩvski, because he also deserves to be there. So, if you have the time and the energy to enter in Wilhelm's journey I absolutely recommend it.

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