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The Sorrows of Young Werther

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  85,067 ratings  ·  4,360 reviews
This is an alternate cover edition - ISBN 10: 014044503X

The story of a young man driven to suicide by an unhappy love affair, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) is the first great tragic novel of European literature.

Based partly on Goethe's unrequited love for Charlotte Buff and partly on the tragedy of Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, who killed himself out of love for a marrie
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Paperback, Penguin Classics, 144 pages
Published August 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1744)
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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 yesterda…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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Hans
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a 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
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Emily May
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, classics
“I have so much in me, and the feeling for her absorbs it all; I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing.”

A lot of classic novels contain certain things that make us cringe a little today but The Sorrows of Young Werther is one that, more than most, really hasn't aged well. I do not know if some people consider this tragically romantic, but it is not my idea of romance. Werther is a serious pest and borderline stalker. He needs to let it go.

In this story, Werther falls head ove
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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
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Ahmad Sharabiani
959. ‭‎‎Die Leiden des jungen Werthers‭‭ = Les souffrances du jeune Werther‬ = The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A Autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774.

Most of The Sorrows of Young Werther, a story about unrequited love, is presented as a collection of letters written by Werther, a young artist of a sensitive and passionate temperament, to his friend Wilhelm.

These give an intimate account of his stay in the fictional village of Wahl
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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.
Adina
During the past 3 years I’ve started to read more classic writers that I missed when I was younger. That means most of them because I thought that dead writer= bad writer, with the exception of Russian authors. Some of these authors I was eager to read, some less. Goethe is one of the latter ones, I knew he was important but it did not attract me at all. I decided on The Sorrows of Young Werther as the introduction with the writer because it was short and in prose. The small novel totally exceed ...more
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
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Greta
The Werther-effect. The book that caused collective suicides all through Europe

"The Sorrows of Young Werther" is one of the most popular novels of the 18th and often referred to, which makes it worth reading if you are interested in literature.

The book is about a young man named Werther who is drowning in love sickness to a girl called Lotte. The story is told through Werthers letters, mostly send to his friend Wilhelm. For him it’s love on first sight, but she is already engaged and about to ge
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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.
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germans
”So far as I know, Goethe was the first writer or artist to become a Public Celebrity. There had always been poets, painters and composers who were known to and revered by their fellow artists, but the general public, however much it may have admired their works, would not have dreamed of wishing to make their acquaintance. But, during the last twenty years or so of Goethe’s life, a visit to Weimar and an audience with the Great Man was an essential item in the itinerary of any cultivated young ...more
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.
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,
...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.
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
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Warwick
It's hard now to recreate the mental world of Europe when this book came out in 1774 – partly because it did so much to point up a new kind of mental world, one dominated by wild emotion and individualism (not to say self-indulgence). These would later become Romantic tropes, but here they are more embryonic. The tone has a lot to do with kicking back against Enlightenment rationality – Werther's having none of it:

Wenn Ulyss von dem ungemessnen Meer und von der unendlichen Erde spricht, das ist
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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
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
7jane
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 stars, rounded up)

"God knows! So often I go to bed with the wish - indeed, sometimes with the hope - not to wake; and in the morning I open my eyes, see the sun again, and am miserable"

This is the 2011 Stanley Corngold translation, based on the 1787 'definitive' edition, carefully translated to so that the English used uses only the words known to English of the time.

The plot is well-known, so that it feels like a conclusion similar to 'what happened to the Titanic' sort of thing. The book
...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
David Gallagher
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"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
Granted and 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, a ...more
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
K.D. Absolutely
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
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: 501, 1001-core, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dean
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I didn't expect to be blown away reading this classic novel by Goethe..
But I've been pleasantly surprised!!
I must say that my expectations has been surpassed to the uttermost..

And honestly spoken friends, if it not were for my good friend and buddy at goodreads Tracey, and also for the great reviews and awesome ratings I never would have chosen this one for reading!!
And yet, I'm so happy to have done so..

"The Sorrows of Young Werther" is the first novel written by Goethe, and it became imm
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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
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
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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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