Lewis Weinstein's Reviews > The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Sep 10, 2012

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Read from September 05 to 09, 2012

I am reading this (again) because it will be read by my character - Anna, a young Polish girl. The wide range of reactions from GR readers gives me many ways to portray Anna's feelings as she reads the book and discusses it with her girlfriend Roza.

So now I have read the book, and I have to say I was monumentally bored. Werther is a real pain and I never felt any sympathy for his interminable discussions of self-inflicted problems. And I consider myself a romantic.

However, my reactions are irrelevant. My job here is to fashion the emotional and intellectual reactions of two 14 year old Polish/Jewish girls who have no experience with boys let alone with love. For them Werther and Charlotte represent forbidden territory - exciting, sad, risque, confusing. The travel to exotic places will also be thrilling for two girls who have never been outside their small shtetl. "Sorrows" offers many avenues for me and my eventual readers to get to know Anna and her friend.

Here is a selection of what GR readers have said about "Sorrows" ...

beautiful, emotionally intense ... a great love story ... for a short novel Goethe says a lot of important things ... a perfect psychological portrait ... Werther isn't an entirely sympathetic character ... beautiful descriptions of his surroundings and the countryside ... a perfect example of how obsession can ultimately lead to personal emptiness ... apparently Napoleon was a huge fan ... Most beautiful book I've ever read ... This is s dangerous book. For anyone who has suffered from unrequited love that burns like a fever will be able to relate uncannily well with this book. Unfortunately the ending is such that it inspired many people to use it like a template for their own lives when faced with a similar situation. ... Haunting, devastating, soul-stirring, a fist to the stomach. All the tragedy of true love ... suggest to everyone, especially those who have loved someone more than themselves (Anna has not yet loved) ... strength of feeling makes it confoundingly life-affirming, even when Werther himself is bloody miserable ... a case study in severe depression and angst, not "love." ... consumed with complex and extreme emotions, loneliness, frustration, and constant thoughts of death ... I wanted to shake Werther by the arm or better so, slap him it the face ... his obsession with feeling, his infatuation with the sublime, his complete impatience with the everyday is totally exhausting ... Werther is probably one of the most irritating, whiney bitches in the history of literature ... I wanted to chuck the book across the room and tell him to stop whining ... Werther is a silly, hypocritical, naive and vain fool.

I thank you all for your comments.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Love your work lew

message 2: by Lewis (new) - added it

Lewis Weinstein Thank you. Right now, the section of my new novel that takes place in 1926 in the shtetl of Ciechanow (Poland) is taking shape very well. But it's still a first draft.

message 3: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hey that's great news. Been wondering how it's going. Didn't want to ask. Nothing worse! Keep at it! Kindests Fiona

message 4: by Lewis (new) - added it

Lewis Weinstein And I should stop saying. Things are a long way from finished ... even first drafts.

message 5: by John (new)

John Gaynard Lewis,
The only thing I have found worse than reading the Sorrows of Young Werther is being in attendance at Jules Massenet's opera Werther. I felt like committing suicide in the lovely opera house in Lyon a year ago half-way through Massenet's piece of torture.

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