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The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann…

The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,436961,035 (3.63)209
A major work of German romanticism in a translation that is acknowledged as the definitive English language version. The Vintage Classics edition also includes NOVELLA, Goethe's poetic vision of an idyllic pastoral society.

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» See also 209 mentions

English (71)  Spanish (7)  German (6)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
joder Werther cómo la lías ( )
  feverell | May 19, 2020 |
Before I can even begin to address the substance of The Sorrows of Young Werther, I first have to talk about nicknames. Nicknames, in theory at least, should be used only when they make a person's name both easier and more enjoyable to say. If someone is named Nicholas, calling him "Nick" or "Nicky" might be convenient and endearing. Calling a woman named Charlotte "Lotte" is neither of those things. The name Lotte conjures up the image (at best) of a very unpleasant, broad-faced woman, or, if you've spent much time with the Old Testament, the husband of a salt lick. Charlotte is a pretty name. Lotte is a grotesque one. Werther's decision to call Charlotte "Lotte" while continuing to call Wilhelm "Wilhelm" rather than Wil or Will or whatever is utterly ridiculous.

Unfortunately, his choice in nickname for his love interest is just one of many of Werther's failures in Goethe's semi-autobiographical epistolary novel. He falls in love with a woman he can't have, allows her to become his obsession, and then shoots himself after weeks of terrible suffering. Not exactly a banner 18-month stretch.

W.H. Auden, who wrote the forward to my edition, didn't feel much sympathy for Werther, calling him a "horrible little monster." I wouldn't go that far, as I find myself empathizing with some of his emotional turmoil, but dude, the world doesn't revolve around you. As someone who finds value in Romanticism and Romantic literature, I'm often frustrated by the way that passion and egoism seem to link together so frequently. In my dream world, profound feelings for both people and nature would make a man want to serve the people and things he cares about rather than weep bitter tears every time whatever he happens to love isn't just handed to him, but for whatever dumb reason, we don't live in my dream world. We live in a world where unrequited love makes one person a victim and the other an antagonist even if both people are acting on their honest emotions.

That being said, I'm not even entirely convinced that what Werther felt for Lotte was love at all. If you truly love someone, and you believe that they love you (as Werther did the last day of his life), then how do you ever make the decision that causing the person you love unimaginable pain is worth escaping your own pain? I don't even think a man as self-absorbed as Werther could justify that. I know next to nothing about mental illness, but I have a much easier time believing that his obsession with Lotte was the result of forces outside of his control rather than her charming personality and skill with a clavichord.

Weirdly enough, despite all that Werther went through, I don't believe that he'd see The Sorrows of Young Werther entirely as a tragedy. Rightly or wrongly (definitely wrongly), this was the kind of life that Werther wanted to live, the way he maintained that life should be lived. "I treat my heart like a sick child," he wrote, "and gratify its every fancy." His heart led him to a place no one should have to go, but at the very least, the journey there was the kind in which he believed.

Also, thank God kissing strangers' children is no longer a thing. Why was that ever a thing? ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
This novel would appeal to Miss Marianne Dashwood (from Austen's "Sense and Sensibility")! Werther is also all sensibility - by which Austen (and I) mean romanticism. I hate that name for the movement because I like romance but don't much care for the artistic/literary/intellectual movement called romanticism which, to quote Wikipedia, "was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical." This 1774 novel was one of the literary works that influenced the Romantic movement that followed in the 19th century.

Unfortunately, I am more like Eleanor Dashwood and prefer emotion to be at least somewhat tempered by rationality. Thus I found Werther to be less sympathetic and romantic and more irritatingly self-absorbed and unbalanced than others might.

He falls in love with Charlotte, whom he already knows to be engaged to another man, and then after an abortive attempt to take his mind off this unhappy love affair by moving to another place and working in a diplomatic capacity, which fails because he is unable to bring himself to comply with the social norms of the time, he returns to the town where Charlotte and her husband are living and spends all his time thinking about how much he loves her and how miserable he is that she is married to another! To me, he doesn't really love Charlotte but just has an intense desire for her; if he truly loved her, he would have spent a bit more time thinking about what would make her happy rather than thinking about himself all the time. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 22, 2020 |
833.6 GOE
  alessandragg | Apr 17, 2020 |
Before finishing this book, I was thinking I was not going to rate it too high. As Werther's unrequited love drove him to emotional, and then physical, extremes, I simply couldn't find him sympathetic. He was intelligent and well off, but his self-centered desire diminished him for me. But, I read quickly to the end and really enjoyed this short novel. I realized that the beauty of the book was its story, so well told by a then 24-year-old Goethe. Even though I didn't always like the titular character as a person, I wanted to know what he thought and how his story unfolded.

I must say I'm also a sucker for epistolary novels. I like seeing only through the words of the letter writer(s). It's like listening in on a conversation, but only hearing one side of it. There's so much you think about, like what the recipient thinks when reading it, as well as what was going on in the letter writer's mind vs. what they actually put on paper. And, to be honest, there's also the titillating feature of reading someone else's private correspondence, as if sneaking a peak at a letter left on a table or discretely reading over someone's shoulder.

The Sorrows of Young Werther is a book of moods. It looks deeply at relationships and also at nature. It is a Romantic book, the first I've read that wasn't originally written in English. I'm happy to have read it.
( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
The legend that it generated a teenage-suicide epidemic across Europe is dubious, but the novel’s international popularity two hundred years ago can’t be overstated. ... Werther’s sorrows didn’t look petty to Goethe or to his original audience, and they ought to feel even more familiar to us.

» Add other authors (153 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Johann Wolfgang von Goetheprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alavedra, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auden, W. H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baioni, GiulianoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beutler, ErnstAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chodowiecki, Daniel NikolausIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corngold, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garagorri, PaulinoPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Große, WilhelmKommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulse, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutter, CatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilpi, VolterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leroux, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michels, HermannCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morgan, Bayard QuincyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pike, BurtonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinhauer, HarryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weigand, Hermann J.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

Selected Works (Everyman's Library) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther / Elective Affinities / Novella by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings (Signet Classics) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther / Novella by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

J.W. Goethe, Gesammelte Werke by Johann W. von Goethe

Werther. Suivi de Hermann et Dorothée. by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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First words
I have diligently collected everything I have been able to discover concerning the story of poor Werther, and here present it to you in the knowledge that you will be grateful for it.
On 30th October 1772, Legation Secretary Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem in Wetzlar hot and killed himself with a pistol borrowed from J. C. Kestner, a friend of Goethe. (Introduction)
Sie ist mir heilig. Alle Begier schweigt in ihrer Gegenwart. Ich weiß nie, wie mir ist, wenn ich bei ihr bin; es ist, als wenn die Seele sich mir in allen Nerven umkehrte.
Wenn wir uns selbst fehlen, dann fehlt uns doch alles.
[Charlotte] was holding a loaf of rye bread and cutting a piece for each of the little ones about her.
Solitude in this terrestrial paradise is a genial balm to my mind, and the young spring cheers with its bounteous promises my oftentimes misgiving heart. Every tree, every bush, is full of flowers; and one might wish himself transformed into a butterfly, to float about in this ocean of perfume, and find his whole existence in it.
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Haiku summary
An alpine meadow / Sweet scent of grass and flowers / Below - the abyss. (KangarooRat)
An artist doomed,
Consumed by helpless longing,
He needed Prozac.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014044503X, 0141023449

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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