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Die neuen Leiden des jungen W.

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,210 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Der 17-jährige Edgar Wibeau nimmt einen Streit mit seinem Vorgesetzten zum Anlass, seine Lehre in einem Metall verarbeitenden Betrieb abzubrechen und geht nach Berlin. Dort richtet er sich in einer verlassenen Gartenkolonie ein und findet ein Reclamheft. Dass es sich dabei um Goethes Roman Die Leiden des jungen Werther handelt, weiß er nicht, weil er Titelblatt und Nachwor ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published 2004 by Suhrkamp (first published 1972)
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 ·  2,210 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edgar Wiebau is the perfect GDR boy: disciplined, clean-cut, obedient. Until that is, he runs away from home and goes to Berlin where he lives in an abandoned summer house and spends a brief season of youthful rebellion during which he falls in love with a black-eyed kindergarten teacher and relives in an ironic and self-conscious way the sorrows of Goethe's romantic hero Werther.

Told mainly by Edgar himself who, it should be noted, is (view spoiler)
Although I have always (and ever since I had to read the novel for a university course in German Enlightenment literature in 1986) found Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Werther (of Die Leiden des jungen Werther fame) a mostly massively aggravating and indeed even psychologically unstable, nastily stalker-like character (who continuously casts condemnation at everyone but himself, who always blames society and his nearest and dearest for the issues he faces and has in fact generally himself created, ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading both parodies of The Sorrows of Young Werther, I have to say that The Sorrows of Young Mike is the better of the two. Ulrich Plenzdorf did a good job but his story doesn't take any steps forward compared with John Zelazny version, but I possibly feel this way because I read the English translation. Zelazny's version is not simply a retelling and the only thing it is lacking is a German translation, which is something that is supposedly in the works. If you want to read a parody of ...more
Joshua Jacobs
Feb 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: literature
I hate this book, I utterly despise it. It's entirely, confoundingly and completely boring , inane, idiotic, choose whichever negative adjectives you like and it would fit my view of the book.
Perhaps I missed the point of the book.
The protagonist is so cringey. Maybe his trying to be cool is contemporarily correct but the way he goes on about 'Old Werther' and adds 'old' as a prefix to anyone for no reason is just cringey and stupid (he says 'old' in the German version too). I remember pausing
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I translated this entire novel into English for a class at OSU...handwritten on legal pads.

Anyone want to read it, let me know, and I will type it up one of these days.
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes J.D. Salinger and specifically Holden Caulfield
A good, short and easy read on usual teenage angst and rebellion present throughout the world, however Edgar (young W) lives in the GDR. This short novel goes hand in hand with The Sufferings of Young Werther, by both paralleling it and parodying it as well. The novel centers around Goethe's aforementioned novel. Edgar reads it and is extremely taken in by it. Throughout the rest of the book he quotes Goethe's work (although he knows not what it is, having found it in a bathroom with the front p ...more
Meh. It was okay, but I couldn't relate to the 17 year old male main character. Apparently this is a satire of The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goeth (I believe), which I hadn't read before this, so maybe I would have found it more enjoyable if I had. Too much teenage angst for me. And Edgar was very full of himself, which wasn't that fun to read either.
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
I would say this is an improvement over it's inspiration but the obsessive use of East German slang to make it sound "cool" and in order to appeal to young people is obnoxious. The protagonist is more likable that Werther.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this book many times. sometimes i like it, sometimes not. it´s a little bit weird, but also interesting. i can´t really describe it better.

Seventeen-year old Edgar Wibeau is a “straight A” student and an upcoming model citizen of the GDR. Until one day he does the unthinkable – he drops out of his apprenticeship, escapes from his sleepy home town, and settles down at his friend Willi’s abandoned summer house in East Berlin. Over the next few months he finds a handyman job, falls in love with a happily-engaged kindergarten teacher named Charlie and develops an unlikely fixation with Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther. After Edgar
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Definitely liked this one better than the original, though it's still not really my kind of book. The writing was a lot easier to understand and it wasn't as much of a torture to get through as the one written by Goethe, which is probably normal seeing as this one is written over a century later. Apart from the writing, I have to say that I liked the build up of the story, with his father trying to find out what happened and him telling the story from the great beyond, and the story itself as we ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Or not so new now, as this is a reissue of an East German modern classic from the early 1970s. Edgar is a young lad, het up on reading two books – one of them, of course, ''Catcher in the Rye'' – and het up on a lovely, engaged Kindergarten teacher whose playground abuts the abandoned allotments where he's squatting. He's also dead – no spoiler – and talking to a collective readership/audience (always asking rhetorical questions of us 'guys') and answering back on the reported dialogue of his ab ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting title from the wonderful Pushkin Press (how much we are indebted to them for bringing so many foreign titles to our notice!). This time it’s a touching coming-of-age story about a rebellious teenage dropout from East Germany, Edgar Wibeau, who recounts his story from beyond the grave, using Goethe’s classic The Sorrows of Young Werther to express himself. This is a conceit that I felt worked admirably and added to the depth of Edgar’s characterisation. We also get to hear fro ...more
Shahriar shiva
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Plenzdorf created a brilliant novel where he utilizes the struggles of a young man living in the GDR to reflect the negatives and, to some minor extent, the positive of soviet occupied east germany. The blue jeans becomes a motif for something that "doesnt fit quite right". within the context of this book the blue jeans are symbolic of communist ideals imposed on german nationalist ideology of the time. Yet plenzdorf is not entirely cynical, he does reflect the merit of hard work and totalitaria ...more
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A less pretentious and more accessible version of a more classic story.

Edgar is relatable in his teenage eccentricity, and makes for a more like-able, and perhaps a more socially adept, Holden Caulfield, and narrates with good humor and genuineness that quickly endeared him to me

Though the book is light spirited it still touches on a lot of the frustrations that Edgar feels growing up in East Germany on the individual level, and as a teenager in general. In fact, the two are inter-related, and
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2007
This is a sort of mixed parody after Goethes’ Werther and Salinger’s Caulfield settled in East Germany; Berlin, to be more exact. Not bad, but I found the Romanian translation not so satisfactory.

noile suferinte ale tinarului w. se vrea a fi un mix-parodie dupa wertherul lui goethe si caulfieldul lui salinger in berlinul germaniei rdg-iste. cartea nu e rea, dar traducerea mi se pare putin metalica si fortata.
Leigh Bryan
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ya-fiction
Very funny narrative voice. A sort of mash-up of The Sorrows of Young Werther and The Catcher in the Rye, which is definitely more entertaining than the former and not quite as good as the latter. ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as funny as I had hoped, but still a pleasing little book. Slightly repetitive in its teenage slang (and a bit dated as well), it is nevertheless quite a charming portrait of growing up in the DDR.
Brandon Prince
Interesting intertextual work that puts into dialogue Goethe, JD Salinger and 1970s East German youth culture. Unfortunately, the British idiom used in this translation feels forced and had me wincing on nearly every page. An insufferable read.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Even worse than Goethe's original.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Even if you have read Goethe's original, it is still beyond painful to make your way through this. That's probably because of the incredibly unlikeable protagonist and the way it is written (not the structure of the father trying to find out what's happened while Edgar tells his tale):

Phrases repeat all the time, which is especially annoying since they're about the most cringeworthy phrases you can imagine; (I read the German version so I'll quote from that one) '(etwas) popte', 'ich wurde fast
Carmen CP
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I rarely review books, but I felt an explanation was necessary for my rating of "The New Sorrows of Young W." by Ulrich Plenzdorf. Overall, I felt the montage structure, coupled with the first-person narrative detracted from what could have been a much stronger work. Plenzdorf takes the Bildungsroman style to an extreme, and the work suffers accordingly: Characters are never developed, places and settings never described, events occur without any sort of meaningful arc or trajectory. When this g ...more
I have to admit that I wasn't impressed at all really with this book. As the title of the book suggests, this was a rework and modernised version of the original sufferings of young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. And to be honest, it's such a short book, only 84 pages, and I’m not really sure at all what happens in it. The main protagonist gets electrocuted near the end of the story but honestly, apart from that, there was nothing much that gripped me in this book at all. Here are a coup ...more
Mihaela Sorlea Tentis
Pfuu.. this is hard. A satire to The Sorrows of Young Werther!
I couldn't connect all the time with Edgar: a 17 years old boy rebels against normality - fair enough- and runs to Berlin. He doesn't want to work but falls in love-impossible love- and decides to work - to impress her!! This struggle between finding yourself and not applying to the society's rules it's there but I think it portrays the character trying to hard ( and the expressions :Do you know what I mean? Do you get it, guys?) It
Mark McKenny
Don't know what to think about this. I picked it up in Waterstones (good cover caught my eye) read a page and thought, that's a bit Catcher, I'll get that. Then 30 pages in, it references Catcher!!

There's paying homage to something and then there's full on ripping it off. After finishing this book I felt it was more the latter. Probably a good book, if you've never read any Salinger.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
The book is based on the death of young Edgar Wibeau who runs away from home to live in Berlin. Although the connection of the older version "The sorrows of young Werther" with the more modern style is interesting, the plot or storyline is not convincing.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book,some of the narration made me laugh out loud. A young man , unrequited love and trying to build a paint machine. A most unusual story and a short read. I would thoroughly recommend.
Meghan Lett
Short, different and interesting. A quick and enjoyable read. Gets you thinking a bit but doesn't challenge any world views or anything. I wouldn't say it's anything incredible. But yeah, good for a quick read.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-writers
Very pleasant to read. Somehow it's like the Catcher in the rye, you can catch common character between Edgar's and Holden's personalities.
If you are into young adult, highly recommended!
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Ulrich Plenzdorf was a German author and dramatist.

Born in Berlin, Plenzdorf studied Philosophy in Leipzig, but graduated with a degree in film. He found work at DEFA.

He became famous in both East and West Germany for his socially critical work titled "Die neuen Leiden des jungen W." Written in the jargon of the GDR-youth of the 1970s, it details the tragic story of a young man and his attempt to

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