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The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – March 5, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Nature has endowed [Goethe] more generously than anyone since Shakespeare.”—Friedrich Schiller
“[In] Werther, all the richness of [Goethe’s] gift was apparent….The extreme, nerve-shattering sensitivity of the little book…evoked a storm of applause which went beyond all bounds and fairly intoxicated the world.”—Thomas Mann

About the Author

In 1771, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749­–1832) went to Strasbourg to study law. There, he had a love affair that later inspired the idyllic Dichtung und Wahrheit (1814). He then practiced law in Frankfurt, where he composed The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Goethe accepted an invitation from the Duke of Weimar in 1775 to join his court and for a decade held various official positions there. He spent 1787 in Italy, where he wrote Iphigenie auf Tauris and worked on the first part of Faust (1808). In 1791, Goethe was appointed director of the ducal theater, a position he held for twenty-two years. In 1806, Goethe married Christiane Vulpius, the mother of his four children. In the last year of his life, Goethe completed the second part of his masterpiece, Faust.

 

Marcelle Clements is a novelist and journalist who has contributed articles on culture, the arts, and politics to many national publications. She is the author of two books of notification, The Dog Is Us and The Improvised Woman, and the novels Rock Me and Midsummer.

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451418557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451418555
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By JOSEPH OLEARY on June 7, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am looking for the best translation of this novel for my students. This translation of Catherine Hutter is utterly incompetent. Example: "I have spoken to my aunt and must say that I didn't find her to be the dreadful vehement woman with the kindest of hearts." The German reads: "Ich habe meine Tante gesprochen und bei weitem das boese Weib nicht gefundet, das man bei uns aus ihr macht. Sie ist eine muntere, heftige Frau von dem besten Herzen" = "I have spoken to my aunt and found her to be not at all the dreadful woman she is made out to be among us. She is a cheerful, energetic woman with the best of hearts."
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am certain that Goethe should be read in German to fully appreciate his work. Catherine Hutter to me is the best translation of 3 translations I have read. Werther is a most wonderful book full of introspection and reflections of life. Napoleon read it 40 times! and was his chosen book to take when he visited Egypt. Thomas Mann read it over 10 times and I have read it five times already. After reading Werther, the reader must read Goethe's Reflections on Werther ( in the same book) to really understand the reason why he wrote this book. This is one of my favorites. Do not forget the Divan, Faust and mostly his biography by Emil Ludwig . . . . his poetry is the best!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Werther is *arguably* the greatest literary work of the modern world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe--world-renowned German classicist and author of Faust, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and many more--has created a BEAUTIFULY worded story which displays his unique views on love, death, etc. As German author Thomas Mann said, "...The nerve-shattering sensitivity of this little book [TSOYW] provoked a storm of applause which broke all bounds and fairly intoxicated the world..." Though the genius of Goethe is praised throughout the world, he is rarely taught in the United States because his work--which is, even at it's dryest, poetic--translates poorly into English. Do not miss the opportunity to read this. If I were to be locked away forever with just one book, I would choose The Sorrows of Young Werther.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Manuel Haas on August 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Somebody may have told you this is a story about some late 18th century guy who is unhappily in love with a girl and ends up killing himself. That somebody might add that Napoleon disliked this unhappy ending, and that the book so impressed its young readership that people did not only start to dress like Werther but even killed themselves.
The fairly slim novel consists of letters written by Young Werther to his friend Wilhelm. The book is not just a love story, however, for there are quite a number of other things which make his life difficult. Werther is supposed to start a career, but the sensitive young man finds it impossible to play his part in the soulless machinations of his bosses. Maybe his love for Lotte, who is married to another man, becomes so important to him, because she stands for the simple, authentic life he wants to lead.
This book triggered off the Romantic movement all over Europe and seems to have been the "Generation X" of its time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Monika on January 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I found this book on the reading list for my European literature class, and once I'd read a synopsis of the story, I wasn't expecting to like it much. And initially I was a little put off by the protagonist's melodramatic way of expressing himself, but by the time I'd finished the book, my opinion had changed drastically. I don't usually go in for tragedies, but this one is somehow different. "The Sorrows of Young Werther" is the tale of a young man, Werther, who seeks a new life by moving to a pretty country town and immersing himself in the beauties of nature. Once there, however, he meets and falls in love with Lotte, a young woman who happens to be already engaged to another man. Werther initially befriends the couple, but as the tension in this hopeless love triangle increases, so does Werther's depression deepen.

The story is told mainly in the form of a series of letters written by Werther to a close friend, William, whom we never actually meet, and occasionally a few other individuals, including Lotte. Each letter is dated and we see the progression and deterioration of Werther's mental state from infatuation, to love, and then to destructive obsession and despair. Toward the end of the book, shortly before Werther's depression finally drives him to take his own life, the narrative style abruptly switches to third person, allowing us for the first time to see the thoughts and emotions of other characters without having them first filtered through Werther's unreliable perception. And the viewpoints of those around Werther give us critical insight into the manifestations of his mental state.

Over the years this book has sparked much concern as to whether it advocates suicide in cases of unrequited love.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Showalter on September 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Once on here I read a comment by someone that the American educational system is biased against works not written in English. Obviously, this is true.
The greatest sin caused by this is that Americans aren't ever realy exposed to Goethe more than to read 'Faust, p. 1' once in college. This book, even in translation, is one of the most powerful books ever written: Goethe here created a psychological kind of novel that was never again equalled (though Gide's 'Straight as a Gate' and Flaubert do come close....) and NO Americans EVER read this.....
Buy this book. It is haunting, beautiful, and every other adjective that you might want to lay upon it. Goethe, perhaps the world's best writer ever (even out of German, when translated well...) writes his best work in prose (in my humble estimation....) here.....
Read this!
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The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings (Signet Classics)
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