Told through lyrical and impassioned letters to his friend Wilhelm, this novel follows the ardent young Werther to the German countryside, where he delves into artistic pursuits and basks in the simplicity of village life. But Werther’s tranquility is shattered when he meets the captivating Charlotte at a ball in a nearby town. Every bit his equal in temperament and intellectual interests, Charlotte quickly becomes Werther’s singular obsession. He falls inextricably in love despite her engagement to another man. Overtaken by his affection for Charlotte and unable to extricate himself from the unrequited love, Werther must make peace between his artistic temperament and the harsh realities of the world.
Among the first—and most notable—examples of Germany’s Sturm und Drang movement, The Sorrows of Young Werther was enormously influential upon its publication in 1774, creating a cult of personality around the tragic figure of Werther and causing a sensation in Europe’s literary community.
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This authoritative edition, which offers Peter Salm’s wonderfully readable translation as well as the original German on facing pages, brings us Faust in a vital, rhythmic American idiom that carefully preserves the grandeur, integrity, and poetic immediacy of Goethe’s words.
Die früh sich einst dem trüben Blick gezeigt.
Versuch ich wohl, euch diesmal festzuhalten?
Fühl ich mein Herz noch jenem Wahn geneigt?
Ihr drängt euch zu! nun gut, so mögt ihr walten,
Wie ihr aus Dunst und Nebel um mich steigt;
Mein Busen fühlt sich jugendlich erschüttert
Vom Zauberhauch, der euren Zug umwittert.
Ihr bringt mit euch die Bilder froher Tage,
Und manche liebe Schatten steigen auf;
Gleich einer alten, halbverklungnen Sage
Kommt erste Lieb und Freundschaft mit herauf;
Der Schmerz wird neu, es wiederholt die Klage
Des Lebens labyrinthisch irren Lauf,
Und nennt die Guten, die, um schöne Stunden
Vom Glück getäuscht, vor mir hinweggeschwunden.
Und kurz und gut, ich will nicht!
Ihr Wille gegen meinen!
Eins gegen eins,
Mich dünkt, es hebt sich!
Deinem Vater Zeus das bringen?
Was Vater! Mutter!
Weißt du, woher du kommst?
Ich stand, als ich zum erstenmal bemerkte
Die Füße stehn,
Und reichte, da ich
Diese Hände reichen fühlte,
Und fand die achtend meiner Tritte,
Die du nennst Vater, Mutter.
“Greenberg has accomplished a magnificent literary feat. He has taken a great German work, until now all but inaccessible to English readers, and made it into a sparkling English poem, full of verve and wit. Greenberg's translation lives; it is done in a modern idiom but with respect for the original text; I found it a joy to read.”—Irving Howe (on the earlier edition)
Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is Goethe's most famous work and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature.
The principal characters of Faust Part One include:
Heinrich Faust, a scholar, sometimes said to be based on the real life of Johann Georg Faust, or on Jacob Bidermann's dramatized account of the Legend of the Doctor of Paris, Cenodoxus
Mephistopheles, a Devil (Demon)
Gretchen, Faust's love (short for Margaret; Goethe uses both forms)
Marthe, Gretchen's neighbour
Valentin, Gretchen's brother
Wagner, Faust's famulus
Faust Part One takes place in multiple settings, the first of which is heaven. Mephistopheles makes a bet with God: he says that he can lure God's favourite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits. The next scene takes place in Faust's study where Faust, despairing at the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning, turns to magic for the showering of infinite knowledge.
He suspects, however, that his attempts are failing. Frustrated, he ponders suicide, but rejects it as he hears the echo of nearby Easter celebrations begin. He goes for a walk with his assistant Wagner and is followed home by a stray poodle (the term then meant a medium-to-big-size dog, similar to a sheep dog).
In Faust's study, the poodle transforms into the devil (Mephistopheles). Faust makes an arrangement with the devil:
the devil will do everything that Faust wants while he is here on Earth, and in exchange Faust will serve the devil in Hell. Faust's arrangement is that if he is pleased enough with anything the devil gives him that he wants to stay in that moment forever, then he will die in that moment.
When the devil tells Faust to sign the pact with blood, Faust complains that the devil does not trust Faust's word of honor.
In the end, Mephistopheles wins the argument and Faust signs the contract with a drop of his own blood. Faust has a few excursions and then meets Margaret (also known as Gretchen). He is attracted to her and with jewellery and help from a neighbor, Martha, the devil draws Gretchen into Faust's arms. With influence from the devil, Faust seduces Gretchen. Gretchen's mother dies from a sleeping potion, administered by Gretchen to obtain privacy so that Faust could visit her. Gretchen discovers she is pregnant. Gretchen's brother condemns Faust, challenges him and falls dead at the hands of Faust and Mephistopheles.
Gretchen drowns her illegitimate child and is convicted of the murder. Faust tries to save Gretchen from death by attempting to free her from prison. Finding that she refuses to escape, Faust and the devil flee the dungeon, while voices from Heaven announce that Gretchen shall be saved – "Sie ist gerettet" – this differs from the harsher ending of Urfaust – "Sie ist gerichtet!" – "she is condemned."
It was reported that members of the first-night audience familiar with the original Urfaust version cheered on hearing the amendment.
En esta novela, a caballo entre el clasicismo y el romanticismo, el matrimonio formado por Eduardo y Carlota ve su idílica y armónica existencia sacudida por la aparición de Otilia, joven protegida de Carlota. La lealtad, la fidelidad, las afinidades, el deseo y el fantasma del adulterio se convocan en la trama de esta magnífica novela, cuya modernidad y lucidez a la hora de examinar las relaciones humanas siguen siendo sobrecogedoras.