Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Italian
Journey 1786-1788. Translated by
W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer.
North Point Press, 508 pages, $16.50
"When I arrived in Italy I felt reborn; now I feel re-educated . . . When I get home you will judge for yourselves how well I have used my eyes. My old habit of sticking to the objective and concrete has given me an ability to read things at sight, so to speak . . . Angelica [Kaufmann] has paid me the compliment of saying that she knows very few people in Rome who see better in art than I do."
Goethe's letters from Italy, which make up the greater part of this compilation (originally published in installments as Italienische Reise), were increasingly punctuated by these confident testimonials to himself as an Augenmensch, a seeing eye in the...