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on 28 February 2014
The translation flowed easily. At every stage of the journey I was exhilarated by the descriptions of people, area, towns, .food and geology.
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on 30 April 2007
I purchased this book for an essay on Goethe's journey in Italy. I chose this translation after comparing it to the other one available, as I felt the style was closer to Goethe's intentions. Admittedly I expected it to be somewhat boring and the first few pages were a slow read. However once Goethe reaches Rome, his excitement of being on "classic soil" is so well conveyed, that I really got into it. The book is based on letters that he wrote home to Weimar and his reflections some time later when he compiled it. They provide an interesting perspective of Italy and Europe at the time and the lifestyles of the upper-class intellectuals. The most surprising part for me however, was that Goethe actually has a sense of humour which his quirky little observations of life as a humanitarian show. I recommend finding a copy of the Roman Elegies and some of his other works of the time, to complement 'Italian Journey'.
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on 22 January 2017
The book is not very interesting, as a picture of Italy. But the reader often feels the urge, repeatedly, to kick the self-important and elitist author very hard in the nuts. Which, I always feel, rather spoils a book. Avoid.
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on 1 March 2017
The 37 yr.old author of 'Werther' slipped out of Weimar in Sept.1786 to travel incognito in Italy for two years - a long held ambition. Like Ruskin he had an impressive knowledge of geology, soils and flora. He collected rocks all the way to Sicily, including compacted soot from the smoking rim of Vesuvius! He first came across the cosseted lemons at Lake Garda and the more hardy orange trees further south. Of all the Renaissance and Baroque villas he managed to visit Villas Madama and Borghese but, to his shame, skipped through Florence in two days, barely glancing at the Boboli Gardens - so keen was he to get to Rome, 'City of the World'. He had already been entranced by Venice and was impressed by both the venerable Doge and Pope in their white, gold and ermine, processing with their gaudy acolytes. He lamented the only parade you saw in Prussia was soldiers in short coats. Arriving in Rome, he determined in all humility to become a better art connoisseur and artist. In raptures over Raphael, he found the latter surpassed by Michelangelo. He realised their vivid palette reflected their climate and outdoor life, comparing it with the dour, damp conditions prevailing north of the Alps. Onto Naples in January, he descended through sleet, renting unheated rooms with only wooden shutters. Living outside virtually all year, Neapolitans did not bother to heat their houses. Busy and active in Rome, Goethe succumbed to the indolence of Naples. Excursions took in Pompeii and Herculaneum where he lamented the frescoes were crumbling and treasures looted - Sir William Hamilton among the culprits in this plundering. Goethe himself had acquired three heads of Juno. Catching an American Packet, he approached Sicily in the company of gambolling dolphins. The ruined Greek temples he visited overlooked a productive and fertile landscape, extolling Paestum especially. Having no camera he 'employed' artist companions to make frequent sketches. Travelling through cacti to the south, 'a long bank of cloud like a mountain ridge' indicated Africa. He viewed Etna, still snow-covered in May, from the amphitheatre perched high above Taormina. Dismayed by earthquake-devastated Messina, he was glad to escape the irascible Governor by boarding a French trader bound for Naples..............and there we must leave him, continuing to make his entertaining observations and reflections. This volume is ideal if you wish for a light introduction to this formidable writer and dramatist, whose life fell into two halves: before and after Italy.
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on 8 August 2014
Read it and then visit Itally
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on 30 January 2017
Really good period travel book. Lots of interesting anecdotes from the period .
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on 20 November 2011
Goethe is one of the towering figures of European civilization.

This description of his Wanderjahre in Italy serves as an excellent introduction for those about to embark on Goethe's Roemische Elegien - and reminds one that he possessed one of the most penetrating intellects of all times.
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on 4 November 2009
This book was the first selection by the Round the World Book Group in Edinburgh. I first read it in about 1998 when on holiday in Italy, visiting the Italian lake region and staying in Malcesine. Goethe visited Malcesine during his journey and stayed there for some time. I found his description of the town and the surrounding area very colourful, and I could follow some of his travels myself. The one thing we did in Malcesine which he didn't, was to be caught in a mountain thunderstorm, a temporale, and get thoroughly soaked.
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