The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787. Werther was an important novel of the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and it also influenced the later Romantic literary movement.
Most of The Sorrows of Young Werther is presented as a collection of letters written by Werther, a young artist of a sensitive and passionate temperament, to his friend Wilhelm. He meets Charlotte, a beautiful young girl who takes care of her siblings after the death of their mother. Werther falls in love with Charlotte despite knowing beforehand that she is engaged to a man named Albert eleven years her senior. Despite the pain it causes him, Werther spends the next few months cultivating a close friendship with them both.
The 1774 publication of the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther transformed its 24-year-old author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, into a world-renowned literary sensation virtually overnight. The story centers on Werther, a highly sensitive artist who has channeled his passionate temperate into his unrequited love for Lotte, a beautiful young lady who is still reeling from the aftermath of her mother's death. Regarded as a masterpiece of the Romantic era, this lyrical meditation on love and loss will resonate with anyone whose affections have been spurned.
A classic romantic novel that marked the turn of the conventional romantic literature and proved to be a landmark for the Romantic Age of English literature. It was first published in the year 1774. 'The Sorrows of Young Werther' by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe narrates a sad and tragic, yet romantic story of young Wether, who fall in love with a married girl and eventually, kills himself to prevent any complications in her marriage.
One of the world's first bestsellers, this tragic masterpiece attained an instant and lasting success upon its 1774 publication, catapulting the author to the forefront of the German literary movement known as Sturm und Drang. A burst of parodies, operas, poems, and plays based on The Sorrows of Young Werther rapidly ensued, along with the cultlike following of young romantics across Europe who affected the manner of the novel's passionate and self-destructive hero. Young Werther bares his soul to readers in the form of alternately joyful and despairing letters about his unrequited love. His story marks the initial great achievement of what has since been termed "confessional" literature; Goethe, who based the story in part on his own unhappy love affair, acknowledged a sense of freedom upon completing the work. A sensitive exploration of the mind of a young artist, the tale addresses age-old questions — the meaning of love, of death, and the possibility of redemption — in the exuberant language of youth. "Werther appeared to seize the hearts of men in all quarters of the world, and to utter for them the word which they had long been waiting to hear," observed the Victorian sage Thomas Carlyle. Indeed, Goethe's portrayal of Zerrissenheit, "the state of being torn apart, in which a character struggles to reconcile his artistic sensibilities with the demands of the objective world, proved tremendously influential to subsequent writers, and The Sorrows of Young Werther continues to speak to modern readers.
In his little hut by the great river, which a heavy rain had swollen to overflowing, lay the ancient Ferryman, asleep, wearied by the toil of the day. In the middle of the night, loud voices awoke him; he heard that it was travellers wishing to be carried over. Stepping out, he saw two large Will-o'-wisps, hovering to and fro on his boat, which lay moored: they said, they were in violent haste, and should have been already on the other side. The old Ferryman made no loitering; pushed off, and steered with his usual skill obliquely through the stream; while the two strangers whiffled and hissed together, in an unknown very rapid tongue, and every now and then broke out in loud laughter, hopping about, at one time on the gunwale and the seats, at another on the bottom of the boat.
"The boat is keeling!" cried the old man; "if you don't be quiet, it'll overset; be seated, gentlemen of the wisp!"
At this advice they burst into a fit of laughter, mocked the old man, and were more unquiet than ever. He bore their mischief with silence, and soon reached the farther shore.
'I have so much and my feeling for her devours everything, I have so much and without her everything is nothing.' The Sorrows of Young Werther propelled Goethe to instant fame when it first appeared in 1774. Goethe drew on his own unhappy experiences to tell the story of Werther, a young man tormented by his love for Lotte, a tender-hearted girl who is promised to someone else. Overwhelmed by his feelings, Werther begins to see only one way to escape from his anguish. Goethe's story of a sensitive young artist alienated from society channelled the Romantic sensibility of the day and led to a wave of imitations. Werther's searching introspection and the passionate intensity with which he bares his soul have an immediacy that is all the more powerful for being expressed in letters; charting the course of his emotions, they give added drama to the unfolding account. David Constantine's new translation captures the novel's lyric clarity, and his introduction and notes illuminate Goethe's achievement. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary, loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. A revised edition appeared in 1787. It was an important novel of the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and influenced the later Romantic movement in literature. Goethe, 24 years old at the time, finished Werther in six weeks of intensive writing in January–March 1774. It instantly put him among the first international literary celebrities, and remains the best known of his works to the general public. Towards the end of Goethe's life, a personal visit to Weimar became a crucial stage in any young man's Grand Tour of Europe.
I have carefully collected whatever I have been able to learn of the story of poor Werther, and here present it to you, knowing that you will thank me for it. To his spirit and character you cannot refuse your admiration and love: to his fate you will not deny your tears. And thou, good soul, who sufferest the same distress as he endured once, draw comfort from his sorrows; and let this little book be thy friend, if, owing to fortune or through thine own fault, thou canst not find a dearer companion.
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