No Comment, Quotation — November 20, 2010, 7:27 am

Goethe – Friendships of Youth

13friend

Wenn wir immer vorsichtig genug wären und uns mit Freunden nur von Einer Seite verbänden, von der sie wirklich mit uns harmoniren, und ihr übriges Wesen weiter nicht in Anspruch nähmen, so würden die Freundschaften weit dauerhafter und ununterbrochner seyn. Gewöhnlich aber ist es ein Jugendfehler, den wir selbst im Alter nicht ablegen, daß wir verlangen, der Freund solle gleichsam ein anderes Ich seyn, solle mit uns nur ein Ganzes ausmachen, worüber wir uns denn eine Zeit lang täuschen, das aber nicht lange dauern kann.

Das sicherste Mittel ein freundschaftliches Verhältniß zu hegen und zu erhalten, finde ich darin, daß man sich wechselweise mittheile, was man thut. Denn die Menschen treffen viel mehr zusammen in dem, was sie thun, als in dem, was sie denken.

If only we were always cautious enough and were to ally ourselves with friends from one side only, namely that which really harmonizes with us and upon whose further nature we would stake no claim, then friendships would be longer lasting and without interruption. Usually however it is a mistake of youth which we continue even into old age that we demand of our friends that they be a second I, that they should make with us one whole, about which we then deceive ourselves for a while, but that cannot last long.

The surest means of nursing and preserving a friendship consists, I find, of sharing with one another what one is doing. Humans overlap far more often in what they do than in what they think.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, letter to Siegmund August Wolfgang Herder, Dec. 1798 in Goethes Werke (Weimar ed.), Abt. IV, vol. 13, pp. 366-67 (S.H. transl.)

Listen to Claudio Arrau perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 26, “Les Adieux”

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

[Browsings]
“Here, a long finger of snow replaced by gray patches of dirt and rock; there, a grayish blob of ice the texture of corduroy, where once a vibrant white patch of snow lay.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Legends of the Lost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“A bond with reality has gone, and sometimes you wonder whether that fosters our feeling that movies are a fleeting art.”
Photograph by Alexander Perrelli
Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells
Article
Interesting Facts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My husband is forty-six. I am forty-five. He does not think that, in my forties, after cancer, chemotherapy, and chemically induced menopause, I can get pregnant again, but sisters, I know my womb. It’s proven.”
Photograph by McNair Evans

Number of British women killed last fall by lightning conducted through their underwire bras:

2

British women wear heels for fifty-one years on average, from the ages of twelve to sixty-three.

Thousands of employees of McDonald’s protested outside the company’s headquarters near Chicago, demanding their wages be increased to $15 per hour. “I can’t afford any shoes,” said one employee in attendance, “and I want Versace heels.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today