« Ron Paul's German Fans Form Political Party | Main | Obama Can Learn from the German Pirates »

April 29, 2012



Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 July 1742 – 24 February 1799) was a German scientist, satirist and Anglophile. At the age of 19 he began writing his 'waste books' (Sudelbücher). Today he is regarded as one of the best aphorists in the Western intellectual history. As a satirist, Lichtenberg takes high rank among the German writers of the 18th century. His biting wit involved him in many controversies with well-known contemporaries, such as the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater whose science of physiognomy he ridiculed... Schopenhauer admired Lichtenberg greatly for what he had written in his notebooks. He called Lichtenberg one of those who "think ... for their own instruction", who are "genuine thinkers for themselves in both senses of the words". Other admirers of Lichtenberg's notebooks include Nietzsche, Freud and Wittgenstein. Lichtenberg is not read by many outside Germany. Leo Tolstoy held Lichtenberg's writings in high esteem, expressing his perplexity of "why the Germans of the present day neglect this writer so much." The Chinese scholar and wit Qian Zhongshu quotes the Waste books in his works several times... A crater on the Moon is named Lichtenberg in his honour.

My favorite quote:
Books are like mirrors. When an ape looks into it, no apostle can look out.



Great catch, thanks! Lichtenberg was also a favorite Kurt Tucholsky, the patron saint of this blog.

A Facebook User

What about August Schiller? I just started reading Wilhelm Tell, and his style is very exciting. Also discovered my new favorite word in German through him: "Bub".


If you are referring to Friedrich Schiller, yes - he was quite precocious - started writing his great play Die Räuber at the age of 17, although it wasn't performed on stage until he was 22.

A Facebook User

How on earth did I get that wrong? I must have mixed his name up with August Schleicher.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad