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Die Leiden des jungen Werther

Die Leiden des jungen Werther

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Die Leiden des jungen Werther

Bewertungen:
3.5/5 (15 Bewertungen)
Länge:
219 Seiten
2 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
1. Nov. 2009
ISBN:
9783938230657
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Ein junger Mann, Werther, kommt in die Stadt W. und verliebt sich leidenschaftlich in die junge Lotte. Als deren Verlobter von einer Geschäftsreise zurückkehrt, wird sich Werther der Vergeblichkeit seiner Liebe bewusst. Er verlässt die Stadt, kehrt aber bald wieder zurück zu Lotte, die inzwischen verheiratet ist. Erneut kommt es zu einer Annäherung zwischen den beiden, schließlich zu einer Umarmung, einem Kuss. Die verunsicherte Lotte beschließt, Werther nicht wiederzusehen. Der verzweifelte junge Mann nimmt sich mit einer Pistole das Leben.

Goethes Briefroman erschien im Herbst 1774 und wurde zur Pflichtlektüre einer ganzen Generation. Eine wahre Werther-Hysterie entstand und dem Roman wurde vorgeworfen, für den Selbstmord zahlreicher Jugendliche verantwortlich zu sein.

Das HörGut!-eBook folgt der Hamburger Ausgabe. Ihr liegt die zweite Fassung des „Werthers“ aus dem Jahre 1787 zugrunde.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
1. Nov. 2009
ISBN:
9783938230657
Format:
Buch

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Die Leiden des jungen Werther - Johann W von Goethe

kannst.

Erstes Buch

Am 4. Mai 1771.

Wie froh bin ich, daß ich weg bin! Bester Freund, was ist das Herz des Menschen! Dich zu verlassen, den ich so liebe, von dem ich unzertrennlich war, und froh zu sein! Ich weiß, du verzeihst mir's. Waren nicht meine übrigen Verbindungen recht ausgesucht vom Schicksal, um ein Herz wie das meine zu ängstigen? Die arme Leonore! Und doch war ich unschuldig. Konnt' ich dafür, daß, während die eigensinnigen Reize ihrer Schwester mir eine angenehme Unterhaltung verschafften, daß eine Leidenschaft in dem armen Herzen sich bildete? Und doch – bin ich ganz unschuldig? Hab' ich nicht ihre Empfindungen genährt? hab' ich mich nicht an den ganz wahren Ausdrücken der Natur, die uns so oft zu lachen machten, so wenig lächerlich sie waren, selbst ergetzt¹? hab' ich nicht – O was ist der Mensch, daß er über sich klagen darf! Ich will, lieber Freund, ich verspreche dir's, ich will mich bessern, will nicht mehr ein bißchen Übel, das uns das Schicksal vorlegt, wiederkäuen, wie ich's immer getan habe; ich will das Gegenwärtige genießen, und das Vergangene soll mir vergangen sein. Gewiß, du hast recht, Bester, der Schmerzen wären minder unter den Menschen, wenn sie nicht – Gott weiß, warum sie so gemacht sind! – mit so viel Emsigkeit der Einbildungskraft sich beschäftigten, die Erinnerungen des vergangenen Übels zurückzurufen, eher als eine gleichgültige Gegenwart zu ertragen.

Du bist so gut, meiner Mutter zu sagen, daß ich ihr Geschäft bestens betreiben und ihr ehstens Nachricht davon geben werde. Ich habe meine Tante gesprochen und bei weitem das böse Weib nicht gefunden, das man bei uns aus ihr macht. Sie ist eine muntere, heftige Frau von dem besten Herzen. Ich erklärte ihr meiner Mutter Beschwerden über den zurückgehaltenen Erbschaftsanteil; sie sagte mir ihre Gründe, Ursachen und die Bedingungen, unter welchen sie bereit wäre, alles herauszugeben, und mehr als wir verlangten – Kurz, ich mag jetzt nichts davon schreiben, sage meiner Mutter, es werde alles gut gehen. Und ich habe, mein Lieber, wieder bei diesem kleinen Geschäft gefunden, daß Mißverständnisse und Trägheit vielleicht mehr Irrungen in der Welt machen als List und Bosheit. Wenigstens sind die beiden letzteren gewiß seltener.

Übrigens befinde ich mich hier gar wohl. Die Einsamkeit ist meinem Herzen köstlicher Balsam² in dieser paradiesischen Gegend, und diese Jahrszeit der Jugend wärmt mit aller Fülle mein oft schauderndes Herz. Jeder Baum, jede Hecke ist ein Strauß von Blüten, und man möchte zum Maienkäfer werden, um in dem Meer von Wohlgerüchen herumschweben und alle seine Nahrung darin finden zu können.

Die Stadt selbst ist unangenehm, dagegen rings umher eine unaussprechliche Schönheit der Natur. Das bewog den verstorbenen Grafen von M.., einen Garten auf einem der Hügel anzulegen, die mit der schönsten Mannigfaltigkeit sich kreuzen und die lieblichsten Täler bilden. Der Garten ist einfach, und man fühlt gleich bei dem Eintritte, daß nicht ein wissenschaftlicher Gärtner, sondern ein fühlendes Herz den Plan gezeichnet, das seiner selbst hier genießen wollte. Schon manche Träne hab' ich dem Abgeschiedenen in dem verfallenen Kabinettchen³ geweint, das sein Lieblingsplätzchen war und auch meines ist. Bald werde ich Herr vom Garten sein; der Gärtner ist mir zugetan, nur seit den paar Tagen, und er wird sich nicht übel dabei befinden.

Am 10. Mai.

Eine wunderbare Heiterkeit hat meine ganze Seele eingenommen, gleich den süßen Frühlingsmorgen, die ich mit ganzem Herzen genieße. Ich bin allein und freue mich meines Lebens in dieser Gegend, die für solche Seelen geschaffen ist wie die meine. Ich bin so glücklich, mein Bester, so ganz in dem Gefühle von ruhigem Dasein versunken, daß meine Kunst darunter leidet. Ich könnte jetzt nicht zeichnen, nicht einen Strich, und bin nie ein größerer Maler gewesen als in diesen Augenblicken. Wenn das liebe Tal um mich dampft, und die hohe Sonne an der Oberfläche der undurchdringlichen Finsternis meines Waldes ruht, und nur einzelne Strahlen sich in das innere Heiligtum stehlen, ich dann im hohen Grase am fallenden Bache liege, und näher an der Erde tausend mannigfaltige Gräschen mir merkwürdig werden; wenn ich das Wimmeln der kleinen Welt zwischen Halmen, die unzähligen, unergründlichen Gestalten der Würmchen, der Mückchen näher an meinem Herzen fühle, und fühle die Gegenwart des Allmächtigen, der uns nach seinem Bilde schuf, das Wehen des Alliebenden, der uns in ewiger Wonne schwebend trägt und erhält; mein Freund! wenn's dann um meine Augen dämmert, und die Welt um mich her und der Himmel ganz in meiner Seele ruhn wie die Gestalt einer Geliebten – dann sehne ich mich oft und denke: Ach könntest du das wieder ausdrücken, könntest du dem Papiere das einhauchen, was so voll, so warm in dir lebt, daß es würde der Spiegel deiner Seele, wie deine Seele ist der Spiegel des unendlichen Gottes! – Mein Freund – Aber ich gehe darüber zugrunde, ich erliege unter der Gewalt der Herrlichkeit dieser Erscheinungen.

Am 12. Mai.

Ich weiß nicht, ob täuschende Geister um diese Gegend schweben, oder ob die warme, himmlische Phantasie in meinem Herzen ist, die mir alles rings umher so paradiesisch macht. Da ist gleich vor dem Orte ein Brunnen, ein Brunnen, an den ich gebannt bin wie Melusine⁴ mit ihren Schwestern. – Du gehst einen kleinen Hügel hinunter und findest dich vor einem Gewölbe, da wohl zwanzig Stufen hinabgehen, wo unten das klarste Wasser aus Marmorfelsen quillt. Die kleine Mauer, die oben umher die Einfassung macht, die hohen Bäume, die den Platz rings umher bedecken, die Kühle des Orts; das hat alles so was Anzügliches, was Schauerliches. Es vergeht kein Tag, daß ich nicht eine Stunde da sitze. Da kommen dann die Mädchen aus der Stadt und holen Wasser, das harmloseste Geschäft und das nötigste, das ehemals die Töchter der Könige selbst verrichteten. Wenn ich da sitze, so lebt die patriarchalische Idee so lebhaft um mich, wie sie, alle die Altväter, am Brunnen Bekanntschaft machen und freien, und wie um die Brunnen und Quellen wohltätige Geister schweben. O der muß nie nach einer schweren Sommertagswanderung sich an des Brunnens Kühle gelabt haben, der das nicht mitempfinden kann.

Am 13. Mai.

Du fragst, ob du mir meine Bücher schicken sollst? – Lieber, ich bitte dich um Gottes willen, laß mir sie vom Halse! Ich will nicht mehr geleitet, ermuntert, angefeuert sein, braust dieses Herz doch genug aus sich selbst; ich brauche Wiegengesang, und den habe ich in seiner Fülle gefunden in meinem Homer. Wie oft lull' ich mein empörtes Blut zur Ruhe, denn so ungleich, so unstet hast du nichts gesehn als dieses Herz. Lieber! brauch' ich dir das zu sagen, der du so oft die Last getragen hast, mich vom Kummer zur Ausschweifung und von süßer Melancholie zur verderblichen Leidenschaft übergehen zu sehn? Auch halte ich mein Herzchen wie ein krankes Kind; jeder Wille wird ihm gestattet. Sage das nicht weiter; es gibt Leute, die mir es verübeln würden.

Am 15. Mai.

Die geringen⁵ Leute des Ortes kennen mich schon und lieben mich, besonders die Kinder. Eine traurige Bemerkung hab' ich gemacht. Wie ich im Anfange mich zu ihnen gesellte, sie freundschaftlich fragte über dies und das, glaubten einige, ich wollte ihrer spotten, und fertigten mich wohl gar grob ab. Ich ließ mich das nicht verdrießen; nur fühlte ich, was ich schon oft bemerkt habe, auf das lebhafteste: Leute von einigem Stande werden sich immer in kalter Entfernung vom gemeinen⁶ Volke halten, als glaubten sie durch Annäherung zu verlieren; und dann gibt's Flüchtlinge und üble Spaßvögel, die sich herabzulassen scheinen, um ihren Übermut dem armen Volke desto empfindlicher zu machen.

Ich weiß wohl, daß wir nicht gleich sind, noch sein können; aber ich halte dafür, daß der, der nötig zu haben glaubt, vom so genannten Pöbel sich zu entfernen, um den Respekt zu erhalten, ebenso tadelhaft ist als ein Feiger, der sich vor seinem Feinde verbirgt, weil er zu unterliegen fürchtet.

Letzthin kam ich zum Brunnen und fand ein junges Dienstmädchen, das ihr Gefäß auf die unterste Treppe gesetzt hatte und sich umsah, ob keine Kamerädin kommen wollte, ihr es auf den Kopf zu helfen. Ich stieg hinunter und sah sie an. – »Soll ich Ihr helfen, Jungfer?« sagte ich. – Sie ward rot über und über. – »O nein, Herr!« sagte sie. – »Ohne Umstände.« – Sie legte ihren Kringen⁷ zurecht, und ich half ihr. Sie dankte und stieg hinauf.

Den 17. Mai.

Ich habe allerlei Bekanntschaft gemacht, Gesellschaft habe ich noch keine gefunden. Ich weiß nicht, was ich Anzügliches für die Menschen haben muß; es mögen mich ihrer so viele und hängen sich an mich, und da tut mir's weh, wenn unser Weg nur eine kleine Strecke miteinander geht. Wenn du fragst, wie die Leute hier sind, muß ich dir sagen: wie überall! Es ist ein einförmiges Ding um das Menschengeschlecht. Die meisten verarbeiten den größten Teil der Zeit, um zu leben, und das bißchen, das ihnen von Freiheit übrig bleibt, ängstigt sie so, daß sie alle Mittel aufsuchen, um es los zu werden. O Bestimmung des Menschen!

Aber eine recht gute Art Volks! Wenn ich mich manchmal vergesse, manchmal mit ihnen die Freuden genieße, die den Menschen noch gewährt sind, an einem artig besetzten Tisch mit aller Offen – und Treuherzigkeit sich herumzuspaßen, eine Spazierfahrt, einen Tanz zur rechten Zeit anzuordnen, und dergleichen, das tut eine ganz gute Wirkung auf mich; nur muß mir nicht einfallen, daß noch so viele andere Kräfte in mir ruhen, die alle ungenutzt vermodern und die ich sorgfältig verbergen muß. Ach das engt das ganze Herz so ein. – Und doch! mißverstanden zu werden, ist das Schicksal von unsereinem.

Ach, daß die Freundin meiner Jugend dahin ist, ach, daß ich sie je gekannt habe! – Ich würde sagen: Du bist ein Tor! du suchst, was hienieden nicht zu finden ist! Aber ich habe sie gehabt, ich habe das Herz gefühlt, die große Seele, in deren Gegenwart ich mir schien mehr zu sein, als ich war, weil ich alles war, was ich sein konnte. Guter Gott! blieb da eine einzige Kraft meiner Seele ungenutzt? Konnt' ich nicht vor ihr das ganze wunderbare Gefühl entwickeln, mit dem mein Herz die Natur umfaßt? War unser Umgang nicht ein ewiges Weben von der feinsten Empfindung, dem schärfsten Witze⁸, dessen Modifikationen⁹, bis zur Unart, alle mit dem Stempel des Genies bezeichnet waren? Und nun! – Ach ihre Jahre, die sie voraus hatte, führten sie früher ans Grab als mich. Nie werde ich sie vergessen, nie ihren festen Sinn und ihre göttliche Duldung.

Vor wenig Tagen traf ich einen jungen V.. an, einen offnen Jungen, mit einer gar glücklichen Gesichtsbildung. Er kommt erst von Akademien, dünkt sich eben nicht weise, aber glaubt doch, er wisse mehr als andere. Auch war er fleißig, wie ich an allerlei spüre, kurz, er hat hübsche Kenntnisse. Da er hörte, daß ich viel zeichnete und Griechisch könnte (zwei Meteore hierzulande¹⁰), wandte er sich an mich und kramte viel Wissens aus, von Batteux bis zu Wood¹¹, von de Piles zu Winckelmann, und versicherte mich, er habe Sulzers Theorie, den ersten Teil, ganz durchgelesen und besitze ein Manuskript von Heynen über das Studium der Antike. Ich ließ das gut sein.

Noch gar einen braven Mann habe ich kennen lernen, den fürstlichen Amtmann, einen offenen, treuherzigen Menschen. Man sagt, es soll eine Seelenfreude sein, ihn unter seinen Kindern zu sehen, deren er neun hat; besonders macht man viel Wesens von seiner ältesten Tochter. Er hat mich zu sich gebeten, und ich will ihn ehster¹² Tage besuchen. Er wohnt auf einem fürstlichen Jagdhofe, anderthalb Stunden von hier, wohin er nach dem Tode seiner Frau zu ziehen die Erlaubnis erhielt, da ihm der Aufenthalt hier in der Stadt und im Amthause zu weh tat.

Sonst sind mir einige verzerrte Originale in den Weg gelaufen, an denen alles unausstehlich ist, am unerträglichsten ihre Freundschaftsbezeigungen.

Leb' wohl! der Brief wird dir recht sein, er ist ganz historisch.

Am 22. Mai.

Daß das Leben des Menschen nur ein Traum sei, ist manchem schon so vorgekommen, und auch mit mir zieht dieses Gefühl immer herum. Wenn ich die Einschränkung ansehe, in welcher die tätigen und forschenden Kräfte des Menschen eingesperrt sind; wenn ich sehe, wie alle Wirksamkeit dahinaus läuft, sich die Befriedigung von Bedürfnissen zu verschaffen, die wieder keinen Zweck haben, als unsere arme Existenz zu verlängern, und dann, daß alle Beruhigung über gewisse Punkte des Nachforschens nur eine träumende Resignation ist, da man sich die Wände, zwischen denen man gefangen sitzt, mit bunten Gestalten und lichten Aussichten bemalt – Das alles, Wilhelm, macht mich stumm. Ich kehre in mich selbst zurück, und finde eine Welt! Wieder mehr in Ahnung und dunkler Begier als in Darstellung und lebendiger Kraft. Und da schwimmt alles vor meinen Sinnen, und ich lächle dann so träumend weiter in die Welt.

Daß die Kinder nicht wissen, warum sie wollen, darin sind alle hochgelahrten Schul- und Hofmeister einig;

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  • (3/5)
    Werther is a sensitive and passionate youung artist who ventures to the countryside to practice his art. Unfortunately for him, he is destined to meet a young lady and fall in love. This is unfortunate because she has already been claimed by a worthy gentleman and the issues grow as Werther's passions begin to consume him and possibly descend into obsession. He attempts to assuage this passion by moving away and following the familial urgings to go into a true working arena in the government, but as he tires of the quotidian dealings and unnecessary drama, Werther is drawn back to the countryside where is love resides with her now husband. I'm surprisingly willing to make a bold statement about the themes that reside in this novel. Normally I swish back and forth and ease into such things, but here I go...This book is undeniably about passion. No specific emotion involved, because there is the base level, the level at which I believe Werther sadly exists, that is not anger or lust or anything of the sort, but rather a seething cauldron of emotional turbulence. [Which, as I type, brings back to mind the chapter on psychoanalytic criticism from class...] It is the burning inner sensation that drives him from one world to another, easily slipping through mindsets. Styled as an epistolary novel, Werther allows a singular look into the young man's violent mood swings revolving around his dealings with this turbulence and Lotte, his angel of perfection. We see his attitude shifting through the degrees of love and obsession, jealousy, acceptance and hatred. Something odd about the novel, however, is that is is not purely the letters written by Werther to his friend [Wilhelm most of the time, but also to Lotte]. Towards the end, the unnamed narrator, who has gathered the letters and apparently taken time to assemble them, feels the need to step in and explain the last few days [or is it weeks? I have trouble following the space of the time...] of the book, in which Werther's mind was too turbulent to properly share, and then ***SPOILERS*** of course, when he kills himself, there are few ways to acceptably demonstrate this in written form. All in all, the book provided more than a few lovely quotes and sentiments that I took care to jot down. Werther being a poet, he frequently allowed himself to wax poetical, as it were, and crafted some beautiful thoughts. It's not a particularly dificult read, but a little bogging when he waxes for a while, and even more so when we read through his translation of a writer--as supplied by the Narrator. It's not a favorite, and probably not a second-read for quite some time, but not bad. Not bad at all for a famous author.
  • (4/5)
    This novella was the work that first established the reputation of the great German author, though he repudiated it in later life. It is a book of two halves. In the first half Werther reflects philosophically about the nature of beauty in the countryside he visits and envies the certainties in the lives of the peasant families he meets. His love for Charlotte here seems an innocent and healthy one, despite her being engaged to Albert. In the second part, however, his unrequited passion grows into an obsession that eventually destroys him, distorting his healthy outlook on the world. As Charlotte perceptively observes, "Why must you love me, me only, who belong to another? I fear, I much fear, that it is only the impossibility of possessing me which makes your desire for me so strong.” This second part lacked the simplicity and beauty of the first half and was harder to read. Werther is an unattractive character by the end and I am afraid his suicide evoked little sympathy in me. This short book was a key point in the development of European literature in the 1770s.
  • (2/5)
    Soo, I know this is part of a historical period, and it's very representative of a literary movement and yada yada yada. But seriously, dude - man up already. And I mean this in a very non-sexist way.
  • (4/5)
    What a thing is the heart of man!- Goethe, The Sorrows of Young WertherIn The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe opens a window into the soul of his young protagonist, allowing the reader to witness first hand his tragic destiny. Young Werther suffers from a hopeless love for the enchanting Charlotte who is engaged to an older man. In a series of letters to his friend Wilhelm, Werther reveals the depths of his anguish. The Sorrows of Young Werther is a beautifully told tale of the interior of a human heart in conflict.First published in 1774, Goethe's epistolary novel has many of the hallmarks of literary romanticism: unattainable love, a passionate and sensitive protagonist, feelings bared open to the world, and a deep appreciation for nature. In his book The Novel 100, Daniel Burt calls The Sorrows of Young Werther "One of the defining works of European Romanticism."Werther is a young artist who moves to the village of Walheim where he meets the lovely Charlotte, daughter of the local judge. Charlotte's mother has died, leaving her to care for her brothers and sisters, and Werther becomes enamored of her, despite knowing that she is engaged to Albert, a man eleven years her senior. As he spends more time with Charlotte and Albert, Werther's love for Charlotte increases, and so does his torment at knowing she is unattainable. The letters Werther writes to his friend Wilhelm express both the intensity of his love and the pain it causes him.Goethe's novel is beautifully written and groundbreaking in its portrayal of a human soul. German literary scholar Karl Viëtor writes about the novel's significance:Among European novels Werther is the first in which an inward life, a spiritual process and nothing else, is represented, and hence it is the first psychological novel....The scene is the soul of the hero. All events and figures are regarded only in the light of the significance they have for Werther's emotion.One thing that stands out in the novel is the likability of all of its characters. This is a novel with no clear antagonist, no evil villain. Not only is Charlotte beautiful, but she is also kind, charming, and generous. Albert is a good man who loves Charlotte. Werther himself is a passionate, sensitive young man whose feelings for Charlotte are pure and innocent. And yet there is conflict in the novel. The reader feels it almost from the very first page. What should Werther do about his passionate feelings for Charlotte? Ignore them? Act on them? Suppress them and move on? What should Charlotte do, and Albert?These questions raise even deeper questions and invite the reader to reflect on his or her own beliefs about love and passion. What is love, and where does it come from? What is the role of emotion in relationships and what is the role of intellect?The Sorrows of Young Werther is well worth a read, not only for its beautiful prose, but also for its attempt to grapple with issues of love and passion.
  • (5/5)
    The quintessential romantic novel, it could easily be mistaken for a handbook on how to express your most intimate feelings as far as the things of the heart are concerned. However it's the superlative skills of the author that really counts: that Goethe is considered one of the greatest writers that ever lived come as no surprise after a few pages of this marvel. To read and reread forever.
  • (2/5)
    Interessant als historisch document dat de opgeklopte overgevoeligheid van de Romantiekers illustreert, maar absoluut ongeloofwaardig en literair maar matig genietbaar.
  • (4/5)
    I had somehow mentally classified Goethe as "difficult to read classics" and had avoided him thus far. But somehow when I saw this charming little volume at my beloved bookstore's "going out of business" sale, I couldn't resist it.And it was charming. And not difficult to read at all. Told mostly in letters, and letters only from Young Werther, we get none of the replies at all -- we get not only a one-sided but a "how I want to represent myself to my friend" side of a young man's descent into romantic obsession with a woman he cannot have. Part of what makes it so fascinating is how many chances and choices he had along the way -- to realize this path would never make him happy, could only end in misery, to choose to go somewhere else, give himself a chance to love someone else. But at the same time, making those different choices would make him a different person. So do any of us really have any choice at all?
  • (5/5)
    I didn't love this - until the end, when it becomes amazing. Advice: don't read this translation, get a newer one. And read Trilling's Sincerity and Authenticity.
  • (4/5)
    For being written in 1774, this German novella is a timeless classic. It is often described as a romance or tragic love story, but I'd have to disagree with that description. What I experienced was a case study in severe depression and angst, not "love." But that's just semantics. Goethe wrote the book as a series of letters from Werther to his friend Wilhelm. Werther finds himself "in love" (obsessed) with a girl, Charlotte, who is engaged to another man, Albert. He is consumed with complex and extreme emotions, loneliness, frustration, and constant thoughts of death. The majority of the time, he comes across as overly dramatic and extremely whiny, and the reader finds herself wishing that he would just "get a grip." Forshadowing of the climax begins on the first page and continues frequently throughout the text. Even though Werther comes across as pathological, anyone who has ever experienced a broken heart or a situation of unrequited love will be able to relate to his experience. This is one of the must read fictional masterpieces, but be warned that it is very dark and very disturbing and probably isn't a good choice post break-up.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the best tales of unrequited love I've ever readTruly a masterpiece and often overlooked
  • (4/5)
    To our cynical, post-modern sensibilities, Werther may well come across as an arrogant, pompous and misguided young fool who is likely displaying the symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, anybody with a passing interest in the Romantic movement should read this seminal novel. Given the bland, aseptic world we live in, perhaps we need a few messy, idealistic characters like the protagonist.
  • (4/5)
    This is of course a great classic, which had a profound impact on the culture of its time. Sometimes, I truly appreciate great classics, for themselves as works of art, not just as for artifacts of culture. But sometimes, I can't make the breakthrough and get really involved with a work -- I observe it, rather than experience it. "The Sorrows of Young Werther", for me, was such a book. I am glad I finally read it (I have certainly read enough about it, over the years) but I won't do so again. Perhaps if I read German, or perhaps if I were a third as old as I am ----- .
  • (4/5)
    I expected to dismiss this book, having read others' reviews in advance. Goethe himself often wished it forgotten after he wrote it, when it still haunted his legacy. Maybe he felt embarrassed by the biographical aspect and his own youthful foolishness. He was too hard on himself. It may be easy to deride Werther's sorrows and weakness, but Goethe did a fine job of capturing youth's irrational passions. There's a reason why it's so hard for adults to relate to teenagers, and I think this classic sums it up perfectly.Werther has to start high before he can fall, and he begins very high. His adoration of a pastoral scene is enough to trigger tears of happiness in him, demonstrating how commanded he is by emotional highs and lows. A storm is brewing - literally, as he is about to meet Charlotte for the first time. At first he is merely an admirer, desirous of her company but not overly wounded that she is engaged to Albert. He is still full enough of life that he can argue with Albert that moroseness is a sin: extreme dramatic irony on a re-read. But gradually admiration turns to obsession, as he begins to idealize his love and then encounters hardships with his attempt at a career, doubled by the impending marriage of Charlotte and Albert becoming fact. After that it's a swift slide to the bottom.Interesting arguments surface. Werther compares a wounded heart to dying of a disease; that there can only be so much pain before one's endurance is overcome, no matter how determined the mindset. Here he clearly ranks emotion above reason as the force which commands him. With this imbalance locked in, no appeal can save him. At this point the reader's loathing is liable to be set in as well. Just snap out of it! Accept what is, and move on! It's compounded by Werther being directionless and possibly too proud and lazy for his own good. He lives off his mother's allowance, and how old is he? Clearly I'm thinking like a parent, or at least a mature adult. To understand this character, I need to cast my mind further back.Can I never recall admiration for an unobtainable girl that led beyond reason? It would be a cold, hard life I've led if I could not. In youth our passions command us. We can hear and speak reason, but only within the context of values largely determined by our feelings. Urgency comes from desiring the company of an ideal vision of the opposite sex, unaware how much we are projecting onto the nearest target and value accordingly beyond what reason dictates. Puppy love transgresses into puppy idolization, to the detriment of the worshiper and the worshiped. I choose to pity Werther out of sympathy, but only up to the point where he contemplates suicide. That state is only obtainable by the sustaining of blind romantic notion far beyond anything I achieved. It is a reality that some are not so lucky. To deride Werther is to deride all youth who give way to irrational despair. Understand him, and you may perceive a life to be saved.
  • (1/5)
    Wow. I do not even know where to start with this.Yes, there are spoilers. Beware!Werther is, in so many words, a stalker. Mourning the death of a young woman (girlfriend? arranged match?), he falls for an engaged woman, Charlotte. He stays at her house as invited, ingratiates himself to her father (a family friend?) and young siblings. Her mother is deceased, she has no female guidance.She marries. He hangs about. Her husband tolerates him. Makes polite upper-class efforts to get him to go away.She tries to get him to not come around.He comes around anyway.A man in the area kills a rival for a woman's affection. Werther actively defends him.Werther admits that he has considered murdering Charlotte's husband, because he just knows he and Charlotte are perfect for each other. At least he knows this is the wrong course of action.He doesn't, which is the only good thing about this book.I very rarely give a book one star. Especially if I have read the whole thing, I will quit a book if it is that bad. But this is a 1001 books list book, not long, and not difficult. Just infuriating. How can we be feeling for this sort of man, still?! I feel no sympathy for him. I feel sympathy for the murdered man and the poor woman caught in the middle. I feel sympathy for Charlotte, caught in something she doesn't want to be part of. I feel for her husband, Albert, who wants Werther gone but is so trapped by upper class mores that he can effectively do little. But sympathy for Werther? No.
  • (4/5)
    Werther was one of the first cult novels in European history, arguably the book that put the novel solidly in place as the dominant literary form for the next couple of centuries. It was condemned by the older generation, provoked a new trend in men's fashion, was blamed for a wave of teenage suicides, and generally had all the attributes we now attach to fads like Pokemon Go and self-driving cars...It's probably a book you need to read in your teens. Re-reading it in later life, it's difficult to feel much sympathy for Werther, who insists on falling in love with a young woman who is already engaged to someone else, makes a nuisance of himself by stalking her, and then makes everyone's life even more miserable by killing himself. In the final pages of the novel, he acts like a tenor in the last act of an opera - every time you think he's finished and is about to pull the trigger, he steps back and adds a couple more paragraphs to his already voluminous suicide note. "Enough already!", readers have been wanting to shout for the last two centuries. It's an exasperating and profoundly foolish book in many ways, but it also has some very beautiful passages, so not a complete waste of time, but it's definitely best-read when you're in the mood for the love-lorn.
  • (5/5)
    Call me slightly vengeful, but I enjoyed a male character on the other side of coin in romance. I generally avoid romance novels, but if a story line is psychologically intriguing, unpredictable for me, I will stick with it to the end. Enjoyed very much, even though the tragic end was spoiled by some reviews I read approx two months ago.
  • (3/5)
    I couldn't quite bring myself to enjoy this short tragedy by Goethe. It wasn't even 200 pages, but it took me longer than I had been expecting to get through it.It is the story of a young man in 1700's Germany named Werther. He falls in love with a young woman named Lotte, but she is already engaged to another man. Even after she is married, Werther continues to love her, and they form a friendship, which is both heavenly and torturous to the despairing Werther. The main thing that I disliked here was that I just wanted Werther to grow up and get over it. Reading the paragraph above, I must admit it is relatively sad, but really now. It doesn't even sound like the plot of a tragedy, just perhaps an unfortunate sub-plot. Werther sees negativity in everything, and is constantly wishing he was dead and dwelling on suicide and weeping over his letters / journal. I have to admit that sometimes, the idea of a tragic, heartbroken man braving the sorrows of life can be appealing in some strange way. But rather than suffer in silence and gather his strength, Werther suffers loudly and wants everyone to know it. Rather than gathering strength from his ordeals, he lets them weaken him into a weepy fool. I couldn't like him or feel any sympathy for him.This book would have been utterly atrocious if not for Goethe's skillful brilliance. He is, of course, one of the greatest writers of all time, and even in a book I can't particularly say I liked, he still manages to write beautifully and evocatively. His prose is majestically awe inspiring at times, though it does tend to ramble on a bit and sometimes wander and become pointless. I noticed while looking for quotes to collect here that I found plenty of gorgeous paragraphs, but couldn't seem to spot a single sentence or short phrase that caught my eye. And I'm not writing down a whole paragraph on my bookmark.I wasn't familiar with the story of "Sorrows of Young Werther" at all coming into it, and as I tend to start imagining possible directions a book could go as I'm reading it, it somehow became set in my mind that Werther should become a poet.Goethe's beautiful writing is here attributed to his character, since the book is Werther narrating in the form of letters he is writing. So the man's letters prove he can write, and I can certainly imagine him turning his sorrows into great material. He even loves poetry, and is a fan of Ossian (who is mentioned quite a few times). Just a thought.I couldn't say I liked this book, despite the author.
  • (2/5)
    Nope. Life is too short. Next!
  • (4/5)
    To put it simply, Sorrows of Young Werther is about a young, impressionable artist who moves to a new, yet fictional town. He is enamored with his surroundings and shares his new-found joy with his friend, Wilhelm, through enthusiastic, vividly descriptive letters. For the first month the letters contain glorious accounts of the landscape, the sights, the sounds, and the people - everything around him. After that first month though, Werther's entire focus centers on a young woman he met at a party. It's obsession at first sight and he can think of nothing else but to be with her constantly. Unfortunately, Werther's affections are doomed as the object of his affection, Charlotte, is already engaged to be married to a "worthy" gentleman. In an effort to remain near to Charlotte, Werther befriends her husband-to-be. Things becomes complicated (as they also do in this kind of situation). Of course this love triangle cannot last and ultimately ends in tragedy.
  • (5/5)
    I went into this book knowing virtually nothing about it. I remembered a vague reference to it from reading Frankenstein last year (the monster discovers and reads this book and relates strongly to Werther) but beyond that, and the general "sorrow" of the central character, I hopped in blind.The book is written in epistolary style with each letter being sent from Werther to his friend Wilhelm (a couple of the letters seemed addressed to his brother as well?). We never read any responses written to Werther but can sometimes infer the reactions from Wilhelm. Still, the core of the story is told in Werther's letters themselves.Because of the epistolary style, the narrative is a little 'jumpy' as it skips over time in between letters…sometimes a day or two, sometimes weeks or more. Some of the letters are very lengthy and pour out large segments of plot and action. Others are very short segments of exclamation or emotion. Sometimes even the longer letters don't advance the "plot" so much as provide insight into the thoughts and emotions of Werther.Through the letters, we follow Werther as he moves to the country and encounters a young girl named Lotte. He is immediately transfixed by her and professes undying love. She coyly allows his advances and it seems as though a romance may appear between them. Quickly we learn that Lotte is betrothed to another man named Albert. Werther is taken aback by this, but still persists in being close to Lotte with the hope of perhaps persuading her to love him. When the time comes, Lotte does marry Albert, much to Werther's dismay, but the three of them remain friendly. Werther visits them frequently and seems to hover incessantly over Lotte. He grows more and more jealous of Albert, which creates some tension in the group and Albert begins to leave the room when Werther comes to visit.Werther's obsession with Lotte grows more and more intense as time goes on. He battles with himself over the emotions he feels and writes his friend for advice, although it is very clear that Werther does not feel able to (nor does he desire to) make a break from Lotte and strive to love another. He does finally move away from Lotte and spends some time trying to move on with his life. He becomes more and more discontent in his work and more and more obsessed with returning to her. He finally does move back to live by them again. Albert is more offstandish and put off by Werther's presence. Werther continues to be insistent in his own mind (and sometimes to Lotte or Wilhelm) that there must be a way for her to love him. At the same time, he is emotionally conflicted because he knows she "belongs" to another man and he does not feel it is right to try and take her from him. She eventually tells Werther that he needs to stop coming around so often (he'd been visiting almost daily) but says that he's still a friend and should come by for Christmas as she's made him a gift.*** SPOILER ***Shortly after (the day after) Lotte tells Werther to back off a bit, he finds Lotte alone one night and again professes his love and pushes on her and kisses her passionately. She forces him off and tells him how wrong he's behaving. He's again in turmoil but does leave, though he announces (somewhat veiled) that she won't see him again…ever. He returns home and writes a few more notes in preparation of his suicide. He sends a note to Lotte and Albert to borrow their pistols for "a trip he's taking." Lotte realizes what's going on, but sends the pistols anyway. He shoots himself in the middle of the night and dies the next morning. He's buried without clergy, graveyard or cemetery.*** END SPOILER ***The presentation of love versus obsession is very interesting here and is very well done. You get a very good sense of the turmoil that Werther's going through…of the pain he's feeling as well as the desire he has but cannot fulfill. After reading the book, I looked up some info on it and found that it is actually fairly autobiographical. Apparently Goethe fell in love with his own Lotte who refused him and married another. He was obsessed for some time and found it hard to work or concentrate. There was a quote I read where Goethe indicates that he actually used Werther (and particularly the ending) to save himself [Goethe].The story itself is intriguing though not particularly entrancing. It's really the presentation of the mental anguish of Werther that makes this noteworthy to me. Getting into his head and participating in the psychology of obsessive love was really interesting. A lot of his language was actually very romantic and, had it been spent on someone more receptive, could have been very powerful in enhancing a romantic relationship. Parts of the read were a bit slow, but overall, it was a good read. ****4.5 out of 5 stars
  • (5/5)
    I've read this book being aware of the fact that immediately after it was published in 1774 a "Werther" crisis began.Suicidal acts,broken hearts,painting,dressing styles.Everything was pointing toward Goethe's novel.It was very exiting to go through a such harrowing love story written in a masterfully style.Like all other classical texts it made me anxious and eager to find out what the next page had to offer.I remember even crying out loud a couple of times so in my case it was by no means a boring lecture.I'd recommend this book to anyone who thinks loving is easy and "pink".Take a look at love from a other(probably disturbing) point of view.
  • (4/5)
    A sensitive youth and suffering artist, Werther is one of Goethe's greatest creations. The book is a bit dated but still evokes the power of emotion that captivated young readers when it was first published. This new translation by Burton Pike is excellent.
  • (3/5)
    I did not enjoy 'The Sorrows' as much as, I believe, the likes of Byron did. It is a romantic book, but so over-the-top by modern standards that I couldn't really get to grips with it very well. I'm just glad it didn't go on too long, or I might have struggled with a narrator obsessed with himself and with his passionate feelings.
  • (4/5)
    Summary:Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is not so much a tale of love and romance, as it is a chronicle of mental health; specifically, it seems, Goethe is tackling the idea of depression and even (though the term would not have existed then) bi-polar depression. Werther spends his days feeling everything in extremes. When he is happy in something, even something seemingly miniscule, he is overjoyed by it. His “cup overfloweth” and he radiates a sun-like magnitude of warmth and well-being to everyone around him. When he is saddened by something (or someone), he is inconsolable. Each disappointment pushes him nearer and nearer to the edge, of which Werther himself seems to be aware and almost welcoming. The crux of Werther’s Joys and Sorrows is, of course, a woman – a love which cannot be reconciled. Ultimately, each encounter with Werther’s love-interest, Lotte, becomes more detrimental to Werther’s fragile state-of-mind and, with one final visit (one which Lotte had expressly forbidden), Werther reaches his limit. The Good:Though this has been criticized by some, I appreciate the epistolary structure of this novel. I also like that to each of Werther’s letters, a response must be guessed or imagined, because none of the letters Werther received are included. I have a difficult time deciding why I like that we only get access to Werther’s side of the conversation but, I think, it is because – really – no other character has much to do with what is going on inside Werther’s head. In fact, even Lotte, the reason Werther “sacrifices” himself in the end, is only an excuse for the sacrifice and not the actual, root cause of Werther’s sorrow. Also, something I found particularly irksome throughout the first half of the novel, but which ultimately I find pleasing, is the lack of any type of characterization, even for those characters who play a larger role, such as Lotte and her husband Albert. At first, I found it difficult to engage with the novel because of this but, upon reflection, I realize the necessity. After all, this novel is about Werther’s state of mind, so the development of any other character would largely detract from the work’s purpose. In addition to this distraction, one must also realize that Werther is a rather arrogant, self-centered person, who is not very concerned about anybody else (even Lotte, when it comes down to it). Werther is entirely engrossed in his own pleasures, his own happiness, and his own despairs; thus, to focus even for a moment on anyone else’s personality or achievements would decrease the importance that Goethe had been placing on Werther’s own self-involvement. The Bad:The novel closes by introducing a rather omniscient “Narrator,” who is not to be mistaken for Goethe’s narrator (this can also be a bit tricky throughout the novel, when “narrator comments” are footnoted). The Narrator seems to be viewing things from the outside, to be evaluating Werther’s life and letters as a bystander, a researcher; however, he does also seem to have some connection to the characters, some insight into their emotions and actions. Does this make him unreliable? Perhaps. I also find the act of introducing a portion of the book as belonging to the Narrator, and including that Narrator suddenly into the plot-line not just unreliable but also distracting. While having the Narrator there to explain some of Werther’s actions and emotions, to guide the reader through Werther’s final days, rather than have Werther write them in letters per usual (and this may have seemed more appropriate to Werther as, when one is ending one’s life, does one really write a letter about all the actions he is taking, all the steps covered, tasks completed? ) is probably necessary, I found it a harsh break from the rest of the novel and, at the point where I would most liked to have been connecting with the main character, I felt most separated. I did also find the many pages devoted to Ossian’s poem (Werther reading the translation to Lotte) indulgent and unnecessary. Finally, though I understand and partially agree with the under-development of the other characters, I also believe this could have been a rich novel and a gripping story, equally honest to mental torment as this novel, had the plot and characters been more flushed out. Final Verdict: 3.5/5.0It is difficult for me not to give this novel a better rating, because I know I am supposed to love it. Still, I found faults, the main problem being that I could not really connect with the story because the majority of its format was guarded, and the final chapter was such a break from the rest that I felt displaced when I could have begun to surrender. The Sorrows of Young Werther did have its positives, though. I appreciated the subject matter, especially coming from an author in the late-1700s. Goethe seemed truly concerned with mental disturbances and depression; he was taking the disease seriously and not just allowing his character to be played off as “having passions.” Goethe, I think, understood that Werther’s “lost love” Lotte was not the true reason for his final descent and, for the close reader, this point comes across loud and clear. What was Goethe experiencing, I wonder, which allowed him or induced him to write this novel?
  • (5/5)
    Amazing book about a platonic love that can't be lived by the force of destiny.
  • (5/5)
    This book is spectacular. The prose of Goethe is stunning and the depth of emotion is amazing. Do not read this book if you are in a melancholy mood; it will intensify those emotions and may pull you from melancholy to despair. Despite that negativity it is a stellar exploration of human love, affection, friendship and emotion.
  • (4/5)
    Obsession, elation, depression, murder, rustic scenes, distance-blurred mountains and wind-swept moors, despair and suicide. A compelling psychological novel.
  • (5/5)
    One of those classics that actually deserves the name. A brilliant psychological meditation.
  • (4/5)
    I feel a little phoney writing a review for a classic. But anyway...I first read Werther when I was about seventeen and I have to say that it went completely over my head. Alas, I thought it was dull. I reread it recently and thought it was brilliant!Werther is a love and loss story. The odd thing about it is that the main protagonist (Werther) falls in and out of love with life, whilst the relationship with the love interest, Lotte, remains constant. The novel takes the form of a briefmarken, allowing the reader acquaint his or herself with Werther's ruminations (predominantly ethical and aesthetic), which become increasingly despairing as the novel progresses, and the development of his affections toward Lotte.Werther is a disaffected youth, lofty and sincere - a romantic - who struggles to come to terms with the rather uninspired world of petite-bourgeois aspirations and conventions he encounters throughout the novel. Goethe's depiction of Werther's descent from a loftly-minded pollyanna to a disaffected outsider is subtle, poignant and thought provoking.
  • (5/5)
    1149 The Sufferings of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (read 9 Jan 1972) The translator, Harry Steinhauer, admits he has toned down much which'd strike the modern reader as maudlin--so I wonder if I'd prefer an older translation. But this translation sounds great to me. It is a novel in the form of letters, dated May 4, 1771, to Dec. 20, 1772. I was struck by Werther's discovery of Ossian: "What a world it is into which the glorious poet leads me! To wander over the heath, with the tempestuous winds roaring about you, carrying the spirits of your ancestors in steaming mists by the half light of the moon. To hear the dying groans of the spirits issue from their caves in the mountains, amid the roar of the brook in the forest, and the lamentations of the maiden, grieving her life away by the moss-covered, grass-over-grown stones on the tomb of her lover, nobly slain in battle...." To the question 'Why has Werther survived?' the answer is suggested: "it is incomparably superior to all its progeny. Despite its passages of intolerable sentimentality, it is richly endowed in its structure, psychological penetration, its fresh, vigorous imagery and diction..."