Shovelmonkey1's Reviews > The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Nov 05, 11

bookshelves: 1001-books, bookcrossing-books, read-in-2011
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Recommended for: 1001 book readers and stalkers in training
Read from February 22 to 27, 2011, read count: 1

Oh Werther, Werther, Werther. Someone got a little bit fixated didn't they? Taking a leaf straight out of Shakespeare's lover-lorn rule book (see Ophelia as example number one of a tragedy waiting to happen) Werther turns loving friendship into a full blown stalker obsession.
Here's a handy Werther style guide to obsession;
1. Meet a friendly young lady.
2. Be forewarned that she is already betrothed to another, and then pay no heed.
3. Write, think and talk about nothing else apart from the object of your amour.
4. Consider murdering your loved ones fiance
5. Find a shady corner to carry out further obsessing
6. Run away to join the army (unsuccessfully)
7. Make dramatic overtures about ending it all

I suspect Werther is a curiously individual example of amorous obsession for the late 18th century, mainly because he is a man. At this time women were generally supposed to be more inclined to this kind of romantic pining. Men on the other hand were billed as stoic, detatched and generally got whichever girl they wanted. When women were thought to be driven mad for "wont of love", much like Werther in this book, it was thought to be some kind of brain fever brought on by an excess of emotion. In reality most of them were driven mad by the sexual frustration caused by the rules set in place by society at the time. So I guess the question is, was Werther really such an ardent romantic or do his letters just express pent up sexual frustration couched in more socially acceptable terms?
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Comments (showing 1-11)




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message 11: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen I have this on my "on deck audio" shelf and am looking forward to it. Great review.


message 10: by Mohammed (last edited Nov 07, 2011 09:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mohammed Sexual frustration is too simple,modern answer and doesnt make sense in the world he lived, the kind of person he was atleast the way the writer wrote that time,world.

Goethe made me believe he was an ardent romantic thats why the novel worked for me.


Shovelmonkey1 Hello Mohammed, thanks for your thoughts. Glad Goethe made you believe he was an ardent romantic as no doubt that was Goethe's aim. Maybe I'm just too sceptical. My dried out heart tells me that romance is just the frilly edges used to disguise and fancy-up basic sexual desire.


Shovelmonkey1 Stephen wrote: "I have this on my "on deck audio" shelf and am looking forward to it. Great review."

Thanks as always! I liked this in a sort of adequate way but I think you'll have more fun with it as an audio as the reading of it was a little dry.


message 7: by Mohammed (last edited Nov 07, 2011 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mohammed Shovelmonkey1 wrote: "Hello Mohammed, thanks for your thoughts. Glad Goethe made you believe he was an ardent romantic as no doubt that was Goethe's aim. Maybe I'm just too sceptical. My dried out heart tells me that ro..."

Im sceptical about modern world view on romance too but this book was so much romantic era literature in its world view. I was surprised by how timeless it was. I was very cynical about the story when i heard about it.

Plus i liked reading for once about a very emotional man from those times. As you say Werther is not like what would be very manly today or then. Most modern readers i know dislike him because he was too emotional, not stoic man.


Karl I don't think he was sexually frustrated. I think masterbation existed in the 18th century!

I kid I kid...........


Shovelmonkey1 @Mohammed - affairs of the heart are pretty timeless I guess... the centre part of the human condition has not altered much in many millions of years. I didn't dislike the book but it's probably not one I'd read again, at least not yet anyway

@ Karl - Yeah but you know what they say about hands and bushes... not quite the same thing.


message 4: by Karl (last edited Nov 07, 2011 02:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Still, great book. I was really impressed with it when I finally got around to reading it.

I found the subject matter, as great as it was, was second to how well the novel was written.

The pages turned themselves


Shovelmonkey1 I do agree it has aged well. I'd like to see it done as a play perhaps or even a short film just to see how it comes to life.


message 2: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Meet a friendly young lady.

It's been a long time, but wasn't she a cousin?

I would think sexual frustration leading to madness would be more likely for a women, since guys could visit a prostitute.


Mohammed Karl wrote: "Still, great book. I am really impressed with it when I finally got around to reading it.

I found the subject matter, as great as it was, was second to how well the novel was written.

The pag..."


Me too i was most impressed with Goethe for writing such a masterful novel with subject matter i would normally not find interesting. I want usually social epic novel like russian,french classics. A sort of love story was not what i usually love to read.


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