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.
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It's publication instantly made the 24-year-old Goethe one of the first international literary celebrities. Of all his works, this book was the most known to the general public. Werther gives a very intimate account of his stay in the fictional village of Wahlheim (based on the town of Garbenheim, near Wetzlar). He is enchanted by the simple ways of the peasants there. He meets Lotte, a beautiful young girl who is taking care of her siblings following the death of their mother. Despite knowing beforehand that Lotte is already engaged to a man named Albert who is 11 years her senior, Werther falls in love with her. Although this causes Werther great pain, he spends the next few months cultivating a close friendship with both of them. His pain eventually becomes so great that he is forced to leave and go to Weimar. While he is away, he makes the acquaintance of Fräulein von B. He suffers a great embarrassment when he forgetfully visits a friend and has to face the normal weekly gathering of the entire aristocratic set. He returns to Wahlheim after this, where he suffers more than he did before, partially because Lotte and Albert are now married. Every day serves as a torturous reminder that Lotte will never be able to requite his love. Out of pity for her friend and respect for her husband, Lotte comes to the decision that Werther must not visit her so frequently. Werther had realized even before this incident that one member of their love triangle — Lotte, Albert or Werther himself — had to die in order to resolve the situation. Unable to hurt anyone else or seriously consider committing murder, Werther sees no other choice but to take his own life. After composing a farewell letter to be found after his suicide, he writes to Albert asking for his two pistols, under a pretence that he is going "on a journey". Lotte receives the request with great emotion and sends the pistols. Werther then shoots himself in the head, but does not expire until 12 hours after he has shot himself. He is buried under a linden tree, a tree he talks about frequently in his letters, and the funeral is not attended by clergymen, Albert or his beloved Lotte.
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.
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.
For more than two centuries the very title of this book has evoked the sensitivity of youth, the suffering of the artist, the idea of a hero too full of love to live. When it was first published in Germany, in 1774, The Sorrows of Young Werther created a sensation. Banned and condemned but embraced—especially by the young—it has continued to captivate.
Now Burton Pike’s startlingly new translation expresses as never before all the anguish, ideas, and ardor of this seminal, iconic novel. And his Introduction reveals both Goethe’s inspirations and his influence—on works ranging from Madame Bovary to Frankenstein and beyond.
Here is the classic story of Werther, a young man “seeking the infinite” in an art he cannot master and a woman he cannot have—the prototype of the Romantic hero in a work that anticipated the Romantic Age. Here is a bold new look at a masterpiece that has changed lives and, like its beloved hero, will never grow old.
Eduard and Charlotte are an aristocratic couple who live a harmonious but idle life in their estate. But the peace of their existence is thrown into chaos when two visitors - Eduard's friend the Captain and Charlotte's passionate young ward Ottilie - provoke unexpected attraction and forbidden love. Taking its title from the principle of elective affinities - the theory that certain chemicals are naturally drawn to one another - this is a penetrating study of marriage and adultery. Inspired by Goethe's own conflicting loyalties as he battled to maintain his relationship with his wife and control his feelings for a younger woman, Elective Affinities is one of the greatest works of the romance era: a rich exploration of love, conflict, and the inescapable force of fate.
'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.
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