Category: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

book review: The Sorrows of Young Werther


At the heart of this tragic tale of suicide by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the character of young Werther. Although he is warned that it is going to be dangerous if he falls in love with the local young beauty Lotte he is unable to stop himself and so the trouble begins.

Lotte is engaged to a man who is away studying law and for a few weeks Werther has a relationship that he forgets is not his alone to enjoy. He forgets about the fiancé and carries on falling deeper in love becoming a friend to Lotte’s brother’s and sisters and a reliable source of company.

But the inevitable happens and the fiancé Albert returns and with his arrival Werther is stunned. Firstly surprised to find himself liking his rival and then secondly to realise that there is no hope for him. He wavers between dwelling on the few weeks they had together to trying to prise himself away.

The book is told as a series of letters and diary entries and for most of the text he is writing to a friend who at this point advises him to move away. But Werther is distracted and unable to settle and ends up making a couple of faux pas with his employer and a potential love interest and in the ends resigns his position and heads back dangerously to Lotte.

There are a couple of premonitions of his own demise with Werther coming across a servant who had been besotted with Lotte and as a result lost his mind and then been driven to murder. At this point the letters are often addressed to Lotte and are a mixture of reminisces that try to paint a picture of a deep love in those few weeks they had together or are bitter about life.

Increasingly Werther becomes uncomfortable company and in the end Albert, rightly considering the social position, leans on his wife to try and get her to see less of the man. Her request that he reduces his visits sends Werther into a tailspin and he starts to plan his suicide.

Ironically his absences are felt by Lotte who by now starts to understand that maybe she also has a stake in the relationship and needs Werther around for company. The young man plans his end and writes various letters to Lotte that spell out his feelings.

The narrative is broken and picked up by a third party that tries to piece together those last days and hours. The result is that Werther does plenty of damage to Albert and Lotte by imposing his views and beliefs on them through his suicide note. He also makes sure that he is the ghost that haunts their marriage.

There is plenty in this reasonably short novel to inspire other writers and some of the moments at the end almost feel like the stuff of Hollywood with the dramatic ending of Werther’s life.

At the end of the book you feel that Lotte could be blamed for ignorance of anything maybe being too friendly with someone not mature enough to cope with friendship and not love. Albert is the protective husband but the fact he allows Werther to borrow his guns, when everyone suspects it is to kill himself, will haunt his marriage for ever.

But Werther elicits little sympathy because he failed to heed the warnings and then failed to accept reality. In the end it might have seemed a bit glib but a slap in the face accompanied by the phrase “there are more fish in the sea” might have been better than a pistol shot to the head.

Version read – Penguin paperback

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book review: The Sorrows of Young Werther


At the heart of this tragic tale of suicide by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the character of young Werther. Although he is warned that it is going to be dangerous if he falls in love with the local young beauty Lotte he is unable to stop himself and so the trouble begins.

Lotte is engaged to a man who is away studying law and for a few weeks Werther has a relationship that he forgets is not his alone to enjoy. He forgets about the fiancé and carries on falling deeper in love becoming a friend to Lotte’s brother’s and sisters and a reliable source of company.

But the inevitable happens and the fiancé Albert returns and with his arrival Werther is stunned. Firstly surprised to find himself liking his rival and then secondly to realise that there is no hope for him. He wavers between dwelling on the few weeks they had together to trying to prise himself away.

The book is told as a series of letters and diary entries and for most of the text he is writing to a friend who at this point advises him to move away. But Werther is distracted and unable to settle and ends up making a couple of faux pas with his employer and a potential love interest and in the ends resigns his position and heads back dangerously to Lotte.

There are a couple of premonitions of his own demise with Werther coming across a servant who had been besotted with Lotte and as a result lost his mind and then been driven to murder. At this point the letters are often addressed to Lotte and are a mixture of reminisces that try to paint a picture of a deep love in those few weeks they had together or are bitter about life.

Increasingly Werther becomes uncomfortable company and in the end Albert, rightly considering the social position, leans on his wife to try and get her to see less of the man. Her request that he reduces his visits sends Werther into a tailspin and he starts to plan his suicide.

Ironically his absences are felt by Lotte who by now starts to understand that maybe she also has a stake in the relationship and needs Werther around for company. The young man plans his end and writes various letters to Lotte that spell out his feelings.

The narrative is broken and picked up by a third party that tries to piece together those last days and hours. The result is that Werther does plenty of damage to Albert and Lotte by imposing his views and beliefs on them through his suicide note. He also makes sure that he is the ghost that haunts their marriage.

There is plenty in this reasonably short novel to inspire other writers and some of the moments at the end almost feel like the stuff of Hollywood with the dramatic ending of Werther’s life.

At the end of the book you feel that Lotte could be blamed for ignorance of anything maybe being too friendly with someone not mature enough to cope with friendship and not love. Albert is the protective husband but the fact he allows Werther to borrow his guns, when everyone suspects it is to kill himself, will haunt his marriage for ever.

But Werther elicits little sympathy because he failed to heed the warnings and then failed to accept reality. In the end it might have seemed a bit glib but a slap in the face accompanied by the phrase “there are more fish in the sea” might have been better than a pistol shot to the head.

Version read – Penguin paperback

book review: The Sorrows of Young Werther


At the heart of this tragic tale of suicide by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the character of young Werther. Although he is warned that it is going to be dangerous if he falls in love with the local young beauty Lotte he is unable to stop himself and so the trouble begins.

Lotte is engaged to a man who is away studying law and for a few weeks Werther has a relationship that he forgets is not his alone to enjoy. He forgets about the fiancé and carries on falling deeper in love becoming a friend to Lotte’s brother’s and sisters and a reliable source of company.

But the inevitable happens and the fiancé Albert returns and with his arrival Werther is stunned. Firstly surprised to find himself liking his rival and then secondly to realise that there is no hope for him. He wavers between dwelling on the few weeks they had together to trying to prise himself away.

The book is told as a series of letters and diary entries and for most of the text he is writing to a friend who at this point advises him to move away. But Werther is distracted and unable to settle and ends up making a couple of faux pas with his employer and a potential love interest and in the ends resigns his position and heads back dangerously to Lotte.

There are a couple of premonitions of his own demise with Werther coming across a servant who had been besotted with Lotte and as a result lost his mind and then been driven to murder. At this point the letters are often addressed to Lotte and are a mixture of reminisces that try to paint a picture of a deep love in those few weeks they had together or are bitter about life.

Increasingly Werther becomes uncomfortable company and in the end Albert, rightly considering the social position, leans on his wife to try and get her to see less of the man. Her request that he reduces his visits sends Werther into a tailspin and he starts to plan his suicide.

Ironically his absences are felt by Lotte who by now starts to understand that maybe she also has a stake in the relationship and needs Werther around for company. The young man plans his end and writes various letters to Lotte that spell out his feelings.

The narrative is broken and picked up by a third party that tries to piece together those last days and hours. The result is that Werther does plenty of damage to Albert and Lotte by imposing his views and beliefs on them through his suicide note. He also makes sure that he is the ghost that haunts their marriage.

There is plenty in this reasonably short novel to inspire other writers and some of the moments at the end almost feel like the stuff of Hollywood with the dramatic ending of Werther’s life.

At the end of the book you feel that Lotte could be blamed for ignorance of anything maybe being too friendly with someone not mature enough to cope with friendship and not love. Albert is the protective husband but the fact he allows Werther to borrow his guns, when everyone suspects it is to kill himself, will haunt his marriage for ever.

But Werther elicits little sympathy because he failed to heed the warnings and then failed to accept reality. In the end it might have seemed a bit glib but a slap in the face accompanied by the phrase “there are more fish in the sea” might have been better than a pistol shot to the head.

Version read – Penguin paperback

book review: The Sorrows of Young Werther


At the heart of this tragic tale of suicide by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the character of young Werther. Although he is warned that it is going to be dangerous if he falls in love with the local young beauty Lotte he is unable to stop himself and so the trouble begins.

Lotte is engaged to a man who is away studying law and for a few weeks Werther has a relationship that he forgets is not his alone to enjoy. He forgets about the fiancé and carries on falling deeper in love becoming a friend to Lotte’s brother’s and sisters and a reliable source of company.

But the inevitable happens and the fiancé Albert returns and with his arrival Werther is stunned. Firstly surprised to find himself liking his rival and then secondly to realise that there is no hope for him. He wavers between dwelling on the few weeks they had together to trying to prise himself away.

The book is told as a series of letters and diary entries and for most of the text he is writing to a friend who at this point advises him to move away. But Werther is distracted and unable to settle and ends up making a couple of faux pas with his employer and a potential love interest and in the ends resigns his position and heads back dangerously to Lotte.

There are a couple of premonitions of his own demise with Werther coming across a servant who had been besotted with Lotte and as a result lost his mind and then been driven to murder. At this point the letters are often addressed to Lotte and are a mixture of reminisces that try to paint a picture of a deep love in those few weeks they had together or are bitter about life.

Increasingly Werther becomes uncomfortable company and in the end Albert, rightly considering the social position, leans on his wife to try and get her to see less of the man. Her request that he reduces his visits sends Werther into a tailspin and he starts to plan his suicide.

Ironically his absences are felt by Lotte who by now starts to understand that maybe she also has a stake in the relationship and needs Werther around for company. The young man plans his end and writes various letters to Lotte that spell out his feelings.

The narrative is broken and picked up by a third party that tries to piece together those last days and hours. The result is that Werther does plenty of damage to Albert and Lotte by imposing his views and beliefs on them through his suicide note. He also makes sure that he is the ghost that haunts their marriage.

There is plenty in this reasonably short novel to inspire other writers and some of the moments at the end almost feel like the stuff of Hollywood with the dramatic ending of Werther’s life.

At the end of the book you feel that Lotte could be blamed for ignorance of anything maybe being too friendly with someone not mature enough to cope with friendship and not love. Albert is the protective husband but the fact he allows Werther to borrow his guns, when everyone suspects it is to kill himself, will haunt his marriage for ever.

But Werther elicits little sympathy because he failed to heed the warnings and then failed to accept reality. In the end it might have seemed a bit glib but a slap in the face accompanied by the phrase “there are more fish in the sea” might have been better than a pistol shot to the head.

Version read – Penguin paperback

Lunchtime read: The Sorrows of Young Werther

In the end it is hard to feel too sympathetic for Werther because he plants a seed of destruction at the heart of Lotte’s relationship with her husband Albert. As the end draws near there is an interesting shift in focus with the reader being given a chance to see into the mind of Lotte.

She is torn between anger and love wanting on the one hand for Werther to leave her alone and then on the other hand expressing loneliness at his absence. She seems to know what is coming and also senses how much her husband Albert is ambivalent towards his rival.

But the long rambling suicide note not only tells Lotte how much he loved her but also does plenty of damage for Albert. It is pretty hard to compete with a dead man and so Werther exploits his last act to ensure his memory will be etched onto Lotte’s heart.

A review will follow soon (after I get through the queue)…

Lunchtime read: The Sorrows of Young Werther

In the end it is hard to feel too sympathetic for Werther because he plants a seed of destruction at the heart of Lotte’s relationship with her husband Albert. As the end draws near there is an interesting shift in focus with the reader being given a chance to see into the mind of Lotte.

She is torn between anger and love wanting on the one hand for Werther to leave her alone and then on the other hand expressing loneliness at his absence. She seems to know what is coming and also senses how much her husband Albert is ambivalent towards his rival.

But the long rambling suicide note not only tells Lotte how much he loved her but also does plenty of damage for Albert. It is pretty hard to compete with a dead man and so Werther exploits his last act to ensure his memory will be etched onto Lotte’s heart.

A review will follow soon (after I get through the queue)…

Lunchtime read: The Sorrows of Young Werther

The inevitable happens and Werther is told by Lotte to stop coming to see her so often. The request is prompted by her husband Albert who points out that the love struck man keeps coming round and it is rather spoiling their marriage and is the subject of gossips in the village.

Lotte tells Werther not to come for a few days – which is Christmas Eve – and this is the final straw for him and he then plans to commit suicide. His letters/diary breaks off and another voice picks up the threads of the last few days piecing it together through fragments of unsent letters and the suicide note.

Although no doubt the suicide is meant to haunt Lotte as much as the early days of their friendship still haunts Werther you can understand why he has been asked to back off a bit.

There is one physical reminder of the pain of unrequited love when Werther comes across a former servant at Lotte’s house who has also fallen in love with her. The madness of love has caused him to lose his mind and he finally murders a fellow servant. Werther, who probably more than anyone can sympathise with his malaise, is the only one to defend the man, something else that goes against him with Albert.

Last bit tomorrow…