The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Oxford World's Classics)

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In a new translation which skilfully draws attention to elements of self-imprisonment within the novella, we come to understand Goethe's desire to exorcise a part of himself, and the irony that Young Werther would haunt him for the rest of his life.
-Guardian

Synopsis

'I have so much and my feeling for her devours everything, I have so much and without her everything is nothing.'

The Sorrows of Young Werther propelled Goethe to instant fame when it first appeared in 1774. Goethe drew on his own unhappy experiences to tell the story of Werther, a young man tormented by his love for Lotte, a tender-hearted girl who is promised to someone else. Overwhelmed by his feelings, Werther begins to see only one way to escape from his anguish.

Goethe's story of a sensitive young artist alienated from society channelled the Romantic sensibility of the day and led to a wave of imitations. Werther's searching introspection and the passionate intensity with which he bares his soul have an immediacy that is all the more powerful for being expressed in letters; charting the course of his emotions, they give added drama to the unfolding account. David Constantine's new translation captures the novel's lyric clarity, and his introduction
and notes illuminate Goethe's achievement.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
 

About Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Before he was thirty, Goethe had proven himself a master of the novel, the drama, and lyric poetry. But even more impressive than his versatility was his unwillingness ever to settle into a single style or approach; whenever he used a literary form, he made of it something new. Born in 1749 to a well-to-do family in Frankfurt, he was sent to Strasbourg to earn a law degree. There, he met the poet-philosopher Herder, discovered Shakespeare, and began to write poetry. His play Götz von Berlichingen (1773) made him famous throughout Germany. He was invited to the court of the duke of Sachsen-Weimar, where he quickly became a cabinet minister. In 1774 his novel of Romantic melancholy, The Sorrows of a Young Werther, electrified all of Europe. Soon as he was at work on the first version of his Faust, which would finally appear as a fragment in 1790. In the 1780s Goethe visited England and immersed himself in classical poetry. The next decade saw the appearance of Wihelm Meister's Apprenticeship, his novel of a young artist education, and a wealth of poetry and criticism. He returned to the Faust material around the turn of the century and completed Part 1 in 1808. The later years of his life were devoted to a bewildering array of pursuits: research in botany and in a theory of colors, a novel (Elective Affinities), the evocative poems of the West-Easters Divan, and his great autobiography, Poetry and Truth. In his eighties he prepared a forty-volume edition of his works; the forty-first volume, published after his death in 1832, was the send part of Faust. Goethe's wide-ranging mind could never be confined to one form or one philosophy. When asked for the theme of his masterwork, Faust, he could only say. "From heaven through all the world to hell"; his subject was nothing smaller.
 
Published May 10, 2012 by OUP Oxford. 154 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Kristen Treen on Jun 30 2012

In a new translation which skilfully draws attention to elements of self-imprisonment within the novella, we come to understand Goethe's desire to exorcise a part of himself, and the irony that Young Werther would haunt him for the rest of his life.

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