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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | 歌德刊登日期: 2014.01.12
作者: Grace Tse
Knowing is not enough, we must apply; willing is not enough, we must do.
—— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is one of the greatest figures in Western literature. He was born in Germany and received education from his father and private tutors. He learned all the common subjects of his time and especially languages like Latin, Greek, French, Italian, English and Hebrew. Although Goethe had a law degree and was a licensed lawyer, he was more interested in writing poetry and novels.
Goethe lived his life fully with perseverance and diligence. His most famous literary work is called "Faust" (《浮士德》). This tragic play has two parts and is considered as one of the greatest works of German literature. Goethe wrote this masterpiece over a period of nearly sixty years. He finished it in 1831, a year before he died.
In the play, Faust is a scholar who loves learning. As he gets older, he becomes frustrated that he has reached the limits of learning and knowledge. Then, one day, he makes a deal with the Devil. Do you know what the deal is about ? Faust sells his soul for unlimited knowledge, youth, power and wealth. The play is so influential that the terms "a pact with the Devil", "Faustian bargain" , "Faustian pact" and "Faustian deal" are used as metaphors to describe a deal made with an evil person.
Although Goethe's literary work has attracted a lot of attention, he also made contributions to the field of natural science, such as plant growth and colour theory.
In the present-day world, a non-profit organization called "The Goethe-Institut"（歌德學院）is named after him. The organization aims to promote German culture and language all over the world.
Latin : 拉丁文
Hebrew : 希伯來文
Licensed lawyer : 執照律師
Perseverance : 毅力
Diligence : 勤奮
Faustian deal : 浮士德式交易
Metaphors : 比喻
Non-profit organization : 非牟利機構