- Paperback: 129 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First edition. edition (December 17, 1969)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039309880X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393098808
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,543,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sufferings of Young Werther First edition. Edition
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About the Author
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) perhaps comes as close as any man to deserving the title of universal genius. Poet, dramatist, critic, scientist, administrator and novelist, he was born at Frankfurt-am-Main in 1749, the son of well-to-do parents with intellectual interests; and he studied at the University of Leipzig and at Strassburg, where he wrote a play which initiated the important Sturm und Drang movement. During the next five years he practiced law in Frankfurt and wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther, a remarkable novel autobiographical of one side of Goethe's nature. In 1775 he went to visit the court of the young Duke of Weimar, and, except for an extended journey to Italy a decade later, stayed there the rest of his life, filling at one time or another all the major posts in the Weimar government. Here a close friendship with Schiller developed, and here he conducted important scientific experiments and published a steady stream of books of the highest order and in many different forms. He became the director of the Weimar Theatre in 1791 and made it the most famous in Europe. His life held a number of ardent loves, which he celebrated in lyrics that are compared to Shakespeare's, and in 1806 he married Christiane Vulpius whom he had loved for many years. In later life Goethe became a generous patron of younger writers, including Byron and Carlyle. In 1790 he published the first version of his life work as Faust, a Fragment, but Part I of the completed Faust did not appear until 1808, while Part II was finished and published only a few months before Goethe's death in 1832.
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Granted, Goethe is a man of towering genius; his understanding of human nature is very much in evidence here. However, reading the book, I feel it is very much a product of its time. The narrative format (letters written by the protagonist) as well as the excessive sentimentality, were products of the "Age of Sentimentality" that swept through much of Europe during the latter half of the 18th-century. One's take on the book, therefore, correlates highly with how one reacts to the features of this period. The constant snivelling and braying that occurs throughout the book is unendurable, and the unlikeliness of the events is compounded by the artifice of the narration itself (the epistolary novel). However, because, it's Goethe writing, there is the occasional timeless observation ("When we feel inadequate to ourselves, everything seems inadequate to us") that only Goethe can put into words. Its moments such as those that salvage an otherwise uninteresting read.
As is common with Norton editions, the text is packed with useful annotations, biographical notes, and critical studies. The translation is also good, maintaining the tenor of Goethe's words but updating them for modern ears.
Since this text was a crucial contributor to the "sturm und drang" (storm and stress) movement, one perhaps would be best served by appreciating the historical value of the text, and discounting its "factual content" (to steal from Benjamin). Otherwise, I fear one might run into the same problems I did.
As soon as this book was published, it enjoyed huge popularity and it was translated into numerous languages. It was the first German book of this kind and even Napoleon Bonaparte read this book up to seven times.
The Sufferings of young Werther is a psychologic and a very tragic tale of a young man who falls in love hopelessly with a married woman. Werther proves to be very intellegent and smart but chosing what he chose to do made him indeed very stupid after all.
Of course in order to find out what Werther did, and how the story unfolds - you'll have to read the book yourself but if you listen to my advice don't read it if you're in love with someone and you're single as Werther was because it wouldn't be a wise thing to do. At least that's my opinion (concern). Cheers.
Read it! You may discover how human you are!