Goethe’s Last Words

You know that among the many clichés which became current in the nineteenth century, it was said that the great pioneer of the nineteenth century closed his life by calling out to posterity: “More light!” As a matter of fact Goethe did not say “More light!” He lay on his couch breathing with difficulty and said: “Open the shutters!” That is the truth. The other is the cliché that has connected itself with it. The words Goethe really spoke are perhaps far more apt than the mere phrase “More light”. The state of things at the end of the nineteenth century does indeed arouse the feeling that our predecessors have closed the shutters. Then came the younger generation; they felt cramped; they felt that the shutters which the older generation had closed so tightly must be opened. Yes, my dear friends, I assure you that although I am old, I shall tell you more of how we can now attempt to open the shutters again.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 217 – THE YOUNGER GENERATION – Lecture 1 – Dornach, 3 October 1922

Translated by R. M. Querido