The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe
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Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther

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149 printed pages
“The Sorrows of Young Werther” was Goethe’s first major work, an immediate sensation upon publication, and made Goethe a household name.
While Voltaire parodied rationalism in “Candide”, Goethe transcended it with the semi-autobiographical story of Werther, a young man governed more by his emotions than his reason, whose only employment is his delight in the romantic ideals of the pastoral lives he finds in the rural town of Walheim. There he also finds Charlotte, and in her an idealized but unobtainable old-world domesticity. Werther’s internal dialog about his growing obsession with Charlotte, and his inability to cope rationally with the fact that she is engaged to—and in love with—another man, form the bulk of the book in the form of a series of ever more intense letters to a friend.
Werther’s descent into sorrow has captivated readers for centuries, helped by Goethe’s itensely beautiful prose (translated here by R. D. Boylan), enchanting imagery, and obvious reverence for nature and a dying past.
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But they are a right good sort of people. If I occasionally forget myself, and take part in the innocent pleasures which are not yet forbidden to the peasantry, and enjoy myself, for instance, with genuine freedom and sincerity, round a well-covered table, or arrange an excursion or a dance opportunely, and so forth, all this produces a good effect upon my disposition; only I must forget that there lie dormant within me so many other qualities which moulder uselessly, and which I am obliged to keep carefully concealed. Ah! this thought affects my spirits fearfully. And yet to be misunderstood is the fate of the like of us.
I will no longer, as has ever been my habit, continue to ruminate on every petty vexation which fortune may dispense; I will enjoy the present, and the past shall be for me the past. No doubt you are right, my best of friends, there would be far less suffering amongst mankind, if men—and God knows why they are so fashioned—did not employ their imaginations so assiduously in recalling the memory of past sorrow, instead of bearing their present lot with equanimity.
I know not whether some deceitful spirits haunt this spot, or whether it be the warm, celestial fancy in my own heart which makes everything around me seem like paradise.
yugju, Gabriel Ploscaru
Gabriel Ploscaru
yugju
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