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The Sorrows of Young Werther

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  67,297 ratings  ·  3,412 reviews
You only find true love once. When Werther dances with the beautiful Lotte, it seems as though he is in paradise. It is a joy, however, that can only ever be short-lived. Engaged to another man, she tolerates Werther's adoration and encourages his friendship. She can never return his love. Broken-hearted, he leaves her home in the country, trying to escape his own desire. ...more
Paperback, Penguin Red Classic, 165 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published September 29th 1774)
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Edmund Hanna I heeded the warnings and picked up this read because its description alluded relevancy to some of my recent experiences. I finished the book…moreI heeded the warnings and picked up this read because its description alluded relevancy to some of my recent experiences. I finished the book yesterday, and, frankly, I've enjoyed the book tremendously. I admit, it has been a sad read, but I didn't pick up even the slightest hint of a Werther 'fever', if one could call it that. And, to be honest, I thought I would; I can compare myself to Werther in some ways... Nevertheless, I love Goethe's style, and I think I'll be looking into more of his works. :)(less)
Elisabeth Winkler Check other translations because the version I read showed only Werther’s sympathy for other vulnerable people.

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3.65  · 
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 ·  67,297 ratings  ·  3,412 reviews


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Hans
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is s dangerous book. For anyone who has suffered from that 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. While finishing up this book I wondered whether Goethe was ever aware or thought about the painful actions his book inspired.

This is a fictionalized autobiography of Goethe's own experience of bei
...more
Casey
I couldn't help but imagine young Werther as a high school, tweeting about all his troubles to the ether. So, without further ado, I present to you: The Tweets of Young Werther.



This is the kind of book that high school teachers should be making self-absorbed teenagers read. They can totally relate, both to the intense feelings of emotion and the complete conviction that no one in the world has ever felt the same way before. I couldn't relate that well, because really Werther just needs to man up
...more
Eric
Jul 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fionnuala
It’s taken me well over a year to get through the saga of Young Werther’s love for his Lotte even though it’s quite a short little book. I plead mitigating circumstances. I had no thought of reading this novel until I came across a pair of characters called Goethe and Lotte in Christine Brooke-Rose’s Textermination, and checked out their real-life story. The trail led to a fictional version of the same story in Young Werther. I was tempted to try reading Young Werther in his own language so I bo ...more
Rowena
"I have been intoxicated more than once, my passions have never been far off insanity."

Although I have some sympathy for unrequited love, it was hard for me to understand Werther. My feelings toward him went back and forth between sympathy and frustration. At times I admired his love, at other times I found it to be very obsessive. Yes, he was sensitive and romantic, but the woman of his dreams did not lead him on in any way so I did find the way he behaved quite incomprehensible.

This was my f
...more
Parthiban Sekar
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Parthiban by: Sumati
I would not be mistaken if I think that many of us would have just eschewed this book by just seeing the first few words of the title. SORROW: the very word instigates a sense of a confused horror in us. Sorrow is one of the emotions which every great men cannot escape in their lives, as Dostoevsky says. Sorrow brings a state of helplessness from which the unfortunate weak ones cannot free themselves. Though the events of this story can be considered as unfortunate for our Werther but it can be ...more
Renée
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favourites
Most beautiful book I've ever read. Goethe's style and prose is incredible. I'm not sure how well it translates to English, having read it in Dutch and German, but I'm sure there are many competant translators out there. Anyone who's not read this is really, really missing out as it's of an unequalled beauty.
J.L.   Sutton
No doubt there were shimmers of brilliance in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774); however, for such a short book, it took me a long time to complete it. At one level, it's not difficult to relate to Werther and the pain he experiences (he is in love with a woman who is unavailable, i.e. already married). Still, experiencing this pain (and wallowing with Werther in his anguish) is not enough to move the narrative forward.
Luís C.
Wolfgang Goethe when he wrote The Sufferings of the Young Werther did not believe that his novel would be so successful. In German Literature, before the novel, there was still no romanesque work at Werther's height. All the romances that preceded him, which dealt with cards, were mostly neutral or cold. They emphasized more those who wrote to the narrator than the narrator himself. In Werther, for the first time, one sees a first-person narrator, an outstanding self. Werther suffers for love an ...more
Bee
It's definately a masterpiece of its age, but I can't count how many times throughout the book I wanted to shake Werther by the arm or better so, slap him it the face. The characters are just unbelievablly stupid. I know that the times were different, but still they should know better. And the fact that the book caused a lot of people to commit suicide doesn't help at all.
I can't believe Goethe wasted his talent on such a wortless novel.
Nidhi Singh
I am proud of my heart alone, it is the sole source of everything, all our strength, happiness and misery. All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.


If one doesn’t drown oneself in its indulgent water, sorrow can deepen, can humanize and connect a person to humanity. Werther realizes this idea at different levels of self-indulgence, self-destruction and emotional dissipation. He is dreamy, sensitive, emotional, vulnerable, very romantic, made for love, t
...more
Edward
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sorrows of Young Werther is a beautiful and emotionally accurate depiction of romantic love: its consuming nature, and the devastation it has the potential to inflict. As a novel it is striking (especially for its time) in the way it subverts the traditional format, by connecting an epistolary structure with an overarching narrative from an unnamed "editor". The language is so wonderfully romantic and personal, one really is made to feel as Werther felt throughout his ordeal.

I especially lov
...more
Perry
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sturm and Drang: Self-Destruction, a Tragedy of Temperament

Mostly epistolary, this short novel thrusts the reader into the province of Young Werther's psyche by manner of his letters, which are replete with verbal ejaculations, disconnected sentences and fervid flights of fancy, as he moves from summit to summit to deepening valleys.

The three main characters are Lotte, Werther and Albert, who is Lotte's older fiance' then husband. The men are nearly diametrically opposed: the latter is older, se
...more
Florencia
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-austrian
I read this book in high school. So, I don't remember much of it, except the crying. I loved the story, I could relate to many of his thoughts about unrequited love and its tragic consequences, and feeling like it was the end of the world because I wasn't with that special someone and, well. High school: Maths and lovesickness.

I cried quite a bit while reading this book, Bambi's-mother-shooting kind of tears. I probably wouldn't react that way now, I'd just think about how much easier it would
...more
Clare
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love beautiful things
I picked this up with some trepidation, assuming that it would be full of stolid German angst and that I would give up after a couple of pages. However, it's a perfect psychological portrait! I loved it. Werther isn't an entirely sympathetic character (he has the odd Kevin the Teenager moment) but you are entirely drawn into his world and feel the same responses as him very keenly. It's only upon finishing that you realise how Goethe has managed to completely draw you into the concerns and belie ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
It breaks my heart to speak ill of a book written by Goethe; but when one thinks of the countless men and women who have read this book throughout the years, weeping tears of compassion for Werther and men of his elk, it no longer comes as a surprise how misogyny and domestic violence still haunts our women to this day.
David Gallagher
"The things I know, anyone can know - but my heart is mine and mine alone."

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite books. Haunting, devastating, soul-stirring, a fist to the stomach. All the tragedy of true love in a Goethe masterpiece. The descriptive majesty of the book is beyond comprehension. A truly amazing book, one that I am happy to have read in my lifetime and one I would suggest to everyone, especially those who have loved someone more than themselves.
Tracey
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Sorrows of Young Werther, is better known, mainly because it represented such an enormous milestone in literary history; the first German international best-seller, it is said to have started a craze for suicide among young people emulating its hero. But in English it remains a book more famous than read."

Werther is an artist, a poet, a lover. He is love struck, love sick even. He is overwhelmed by his passion and emotions, which is expressed to us in the form of letters to his dear friend
...more
Manybooks
Now truth be told, the general thematics, as well as the writing, the stylistics of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werther are evocative and tragically beautiful, a novel of intensity of feeling, of all encompassing anguish, the tragedy of unrequited, or perhaps more to the point, impossible, unasked for love (and for the 18th century, almost palpably modern, presenting both psychological and neurological allusions and musings that are well beyond its historic time, and often ...more
Michael
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, Goethe’s semi-autobiographical tale of a young man’s unrequited love that ends in his suicide. Written in 1774 when Goethe was 24, it was essentially the world’s first best seller. What drew me to it, along with favorable reviews by GR friends, is my curiosity and ignorance of Goethe as an important figure in cultural history. From reading Holmes’ “Age of Wonder” and Wulf’s “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World”, I got some apprecia ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hopeless Romantics
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006, 2008, 2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pradnya K.
After a long time, I closed a book with tearful eyes..

************


Dear Werther,

It's been centuries since you've gone but even now we have peasants around who kill their lovers' love or youngsters who kill themselves for the sake of their love. I don't know which killing is worst, the former one kills two lives including one's own and yet suffer while the later one kills one life and numerous dreams of his loved ones. I feel both are equally wretched, to quit before you learn your lesson is never
...more
John Zelazny
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I was halfway through this book I had already connected with it on a deep level. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the end but I knew Goethe was telling my story and the opposite of my story at the same time. Ten years later I published my first novel, The Sorrows of Young Mike, which is a parody of this great tale. I can only be grateful to Goethe and encourage everyone to read The Sorrows of Young Werther. Also, if you liked it enough or even because you hated it — you should ch ...more
Alex
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: your adolescent child
Shelves: 2016
Goethe's breakthrough hit haunted him all his life. Poor guy: it's embarrassing. It's about a young guy around Goethe's age (24), whose name more or less rhymes with Goethe, who falls hopelessly in love with a married woman, like Goethe did, and then mopes about quoting poetry like this:
It is night;
I am alone,
forlorn on the hill of storms.
Goethe is inventing emo here, and let he who has not written shitty poetry in his or her youth cast the first stone. (Here he's quoting an imaginary author nam
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 book readers and stalkers in training
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
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
...more
Edward
Introduction

--The Sorrows of Young Werther

Notes
Duane
This is Goethe's Romeo and Juliet. This is Goethe's masterpiece. It's a tragedy and a love story all rolled together and it's hard to say which description is more accurate. Yes it's an unrequited love, a one way passion of the heart and mind. But isn't that the nature of most love affairs? By today's standards it would be considered an obsession, and maybe it was in 18th century Germany as well. But there is no denying Werther's love. His love for Charlotte was the gift of his heart.

"......a wh
...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
I have read every english translation of this remarkable work and, while Burton Pike's translation is the most popular currently, it leaves a lot to be desired. It is too simple and misses the high points. I have recently released my own translation that is as linguistically current as possible, The Sorrows of Young Werther: The Definitive Translation.

“This is another one of those creatures whom, like the pelican, I have fed with the blood of my own heart... There were special circumstances clo
...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, recent
If you only read one translation of "The Sorrows of Youn Werther," it should be this one. I've read them all, but this is the only one that I translated myself.
Forrest
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Catching up on Cl...: The Sorrows of Young Werther - SPOILERS 65 67 Sep 20, 2018 02:36PM  
Catching up on Cl...: The Sorrows of Young Werther - NO spoilers 11 58 Aug 04, 2018 10:55AM  
Warum Emilia Galotti? 2 25 Apr 19, 2017 05:10AM  
Portugal: Melhor edição? 1 54 Feb 08, 2016 03:13AM  
Was Werther selfish? 5 148 May 12, 2015 09:41PM  
Goodreads Librari...: The Sorrows of Young Werther 3 38 Nov 17, 2014 08:43PM  
Suicide, what are your thoughts about it? 2 56 Nov 05, 2014 09:19AM  

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer. George Eliot called him "Germany's greatest man of letters... and the last true polymath to walk the earth." Goethe's works span the fields of poetry, drama, literature, theology, humanism, and science. Goethe's magnum opus, lauded as one of the peaks of world literature, is the two-part drama Faust. Goethe's other well-known literary works include h ...more
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