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The Sorrows of Young Wertherby Johann Goethe
Synopses & Reviews
A Major New Translation
For more than two centuries the very title of this book has evoked the sensitivity of youth, the suffering of the artist, the idea of a hero too full of love to live. When it was first published in Germany, in 1774, The Sorrows of Young Werther created a sensation. Banned and condemned but embraced—especially by the young—it has continued to captivate.
Now Burton Pike’s startlingly new translation expresses as never before all the anguish, ideas, and ardor of this seminal, iconic novel. And his Introduction reveals both Goethe’s inspirations and his influence—on works ranging from Madame Bovary to Frankenstein and beyond.
Here is the classic story of Werther, a young man “seeking the infinite” in an art he cannot master and a woman he cannot have—the prototype of the Romantic hero in a work that anticipated the Romantic Age. Here is a bold new look at a masterpiece that has changed lives and, like its beloved hero, will never grow old.
About the Author
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE (1749–1832) was a novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, and scientist. He wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther when he was just twenty-four. His enduring dramatic poem "Faust" took fifty-seven years to write and was published in its entirety only after Goethe’s death at eighty-three.
BURTON PIKE is professor emeritus of comparative literature at CUNY Graduate Center. A leading critic, scholar, and translator of German literature, he has written and edited books on Robert Musil, Thomas Mann, and many others, and was the editor and co-translator of Musil’s The Man With-out Qualities.
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