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Johann Wolfgang Goethe
1749 - 1832

German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist. Goethe is often hailed as a genius, in part because he made useful contributions to many fields of human endeavor. He was a trained lawyer, a biologist, a naturalist, a playwright (The Sorrows of Young Werther [1774]), a novelist (The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister [1796] and Elective Affinities [1809]), author of the poem Faust (1808), and for 10 years Minister of State at Weimar.

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Faust (1988)
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Genius is formed in quiet, character in the stream of human life.

1790 - from Torquato Tasso, Goethe's play about the Italian Renaissance poet
We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them.

1774 - from The Sorrows of Young Werther
Life is the childhood of our immortality.

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.

No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.

Oh how sweet it is to hear one's own convictions from another's lips.

Law givers or revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either utopian dreamers or charlatans.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Belief is not the beginning but the end of all knowledge.

What government is the best? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.

Law givers or revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either utopian dreamers or charlatans.

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult. To put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.

One never goes so far as when one doesn't know where one is going.

Nature understands no jesting. She is always true, always serious, always severe. She is always right, and the errors are always those of man.

When ideas fail, words come in very handy.

There is nothing more odious than the majority; for it consists of a few powerful leaders, a certain number of accommodating scoundrels and subservient weaklings, and a mass of men who trudge after them without in the least knowing their own minds.