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The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann…
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The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,686621,010 (3.65)136
  1. 10
    The Sorrows of Young Mike by John Zelazny (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Mike’s story is told through his journal which is interlaced with various documents — essays, instant message conversations and an email. These documents tell a story that parodies Goethe, in both his behavior as a writer and his apparent views on love, nature and the world. These views were described in Goethe's seventeenth-century novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther.… (more)
  2. 00
    White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky (haraldo)
    haraldo: Both are extremely romantic stories about a platonic love.
  3. 00
    Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis by Ugo Foscolo (roby72)
  4. 01
    Shelley, Keats e Byron: i ragazzi che amavano il vento by Percy Bysshe Shelley (cometahalley)
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» See also 136 mentions

English (44)  German (5)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Werther's letter of August 18:
"Must it be that whatever makes man happy must later become the source of his misery?
"That generous and warm feeling for living Nature which flooded my heart with such bliss, so that I saw the world around me as a Paradise, has now become an unbearable torment, a sort of demon that persecutes me wherever I go. When I formerly looked from the rock far across the river and the fertile valleys to the distant hills, and saw everything on all sides sprout and spring forth - the mountains covered with tall, thick trees from base to summit, the valleys winding between pleasant shading woods, the gently flowing river gliding among the whispering reeds and reflecting light clouds which sailed across the sky under the mild evening breeze; when I listened to the birds that bring the forest to life, while millions of midges danced in the red rays of a setting sun whose last flare roused the buzzing beetle from the grass; and all the whirring and weaving around me drew my attention to the ground underfoot where the moss, which wrests it nourishment from my hard rock, and the broom plant, which grows on the slope of the arid sand hill, revealed to me the inner, glowing, sacred life of Nature - how fervently did I take all this into my warm heart, feeling like a god in the overflowing abundance, while the beautiful forms of the infinite universe stirred and inspired my soul....
"....
"It is as if a curtain has been drawn away from my soul, and the scene of unending life is transformed before my eyes into the pit of the forever-open grave. Can you say: 'This is!' when everything passes, everything rolls past with the speed of lightning and so rarely exhausts the whole power of it existence, alas, before it is swept away by the current, drowned and smashed on the rocks? There is not one moment which does not consume you and yours, and not one moment when you yourself are not inevitably destructive; the most harmless walk costs the lives of thousands of poor, minute worms; one step of your foot annihilates the painstaking constructions of ants, and stamps a small world into its ignominious grave. Ha! It is not the notable catastrophes of the world, the floods that wash away our villages, the earthquakes that swallow up our town which move me; my heart is instead worn out by the consuming power latent in the whole of Nature which has formed nothing that will not destroy its neighbour and itself. So I stagger with anxiety, Heaven and Earth and their weaving powers around me! I see nothing but an eternally devouring and ruminating monster."
1 vote | maryoverton | Apr 15, 2014 |
I expected to dismiss this book, having read others' reviews in advance. Goethe himself often wished it forgotten after he wrote it, when it still haunted his legacy. Maybe he felt embarrassed by the biographical aspect and his own youthful foolishness. He was too hard on himself. It may be easy to deride Werther's sorrows and weakness, but Goethe did a fine job of capturing youth's irrational passions. There's a reason why it's so hard for adults to relate to teenagers, and I think this classic sums it up perfectly.

Werther has to start high before he can fall, and he begins very high. His adoration of a pastoral scene is enough to trigger tears of happiness in him, demonstrating how commanded he is by emotional highs and lows. A storm is brewing - literally, as he is about to meet Charlotte for the first time. At first he is merely an admirer, desirous of her company but not overly wounded that she is engaged to Albert. He is still full enough of life that he can argue with Albert that moroseness is a sin: extreme dramatic irony on a re-read. But gradually admiration turns to obsession, as he begins to idealize his love and then encounters hardships with his attempt at a career, doubled by the impending marriage of Charlotte and Albert becoming fact. After that it's a swift slide to the bottom.

Interesting arguments surface. Werther compares a wounded heart to dying of a disease; that there can only be so much pain before one's endurance is overcome, no matter how determined the mindset. Here he clearly ranks emotion above reason as the force which commands him. With this imbalance locked in, no appeal can save him. At this point the reader's loathing is liable to be set in as well. Just snap out of it! Accept what is, and move on! It's compounded by Werther being directionless and possibly too proud and lazy for his own good. He lives off his mother's allowance, and how old is he? Clearly I'm thinking like a parent, or at least a mature adult. To understand this character, I need to cast my mind further back.

Can I never recall admiration for an unobtainable girl that led beyond reason? It would be a cold, hard life I've led if I could not. In youth our passions command us. We can hear and speak reason, but only within the context of values largely determined by our feelings. Urgency comes from desiring the company of an ideal vision of the opposite sex, unaware how much we are projecting onto the nearest target and value accordingly beyond what reason dictates. Puppy love transgresses into puppy idolization, to the detriment of the worshiper and the worshiped. I choose to pity Werther out of sympathy, but only up to the point where he contemplates suicide. That state is only obtainable by the sustaining of blind romantic notion far beyond anything I achieved. It is a reality that some are not so lucky. To deride Werther is to deride all youth who give way to irrational despair. Understand him, and you may perceive a life to be saved. ( )
2 vote Cecrow | Mar 17, 2014 |
The Sorrows of Young Werther is a Romantic tragedy told mostly through a series of letters written by a young, emotional artist (Werther) to his companion Wilhelm, the content of which focuses in intimate detail on Werther's unrequited love for an engaged woman. Werther is deeply passionate, sensitive and fiercely oppositional to social standards, and cannot endure the agony rooted in his doomed desire. In the end, he is moved to suicide. Goethe's captivating style and perceptive expression makes it one of the greatest works in the history of Romantic tragedy.
1 vote AMD3075 | Feb 24, 2014 |
This is of course a great classic, which had a profound impact on the culture of its time. Sometimes, I truly appreciate great classics, for themselves as works of art, not just as for artifacts of culture. But sometimes, I can't make the breakthrough and get really involved with a work -- I observe it, rather than experience it. "The Sorrows of Young Werther", for me, was such a book. I am glad I finally read it (I have certainly read enough about it, over the years) but I won't do so again. Perhaps if I read German, or perhaps if I were a third as old as I am ----- . ( )
1 vote annbury | Nov 14, 2013 |
To our cynical, post-modern sensibilities, Werther may well come across as an arrogant, pompous and misguided young fool who is likely displaying the symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, anybody with a passing interest in the Romantic movement should read this seminal novel. Given the bland, aseptic world we live in, perhaps we need a few messy, idealistic characters like the protagonist. ( )
1 vote JosephCamilleri | Oct 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (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 (466 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang vonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alavedra, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baioni, GiulianoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beutler, ErnstAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chodowiecki, Daniel NikolausIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corngold, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garagorri, PaulinoPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutter, CatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilpi, VolterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinhauer, HarryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weigand, Hermann J.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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)
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You only find true love once. When Werther dances with the beautiful Lotte, it seems as though he is in paradise. It is a joy, however, that can only ever be short-lived. Engaged to another man, she tolerates Werther's adoration and encourages his friendship. She can never return his love. Broken-hearted, he leaves her home in the country, trying to escape his own desire. But when he receives a letter telling him that she is finally married, his passion soon turns to destructive obsession. And as his life falls apart, Werther is haunted by one certainty: He has lost his reason for living.… (more)

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