Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings (Signet Classics)The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up Goethe because it's classic German reading, and I have a love for all things German. It took me so long (about 6 months) to read this for two reasons: 1) I kept the book in my bathroom and b) the writing was so heavy I could only read a few pages at a time.
The first part of the book was the story of Werther. It's written as a series of letters from Werther to his friend William, which makes it easy to pick up and put down whenever I felt like reading. This book is filled with moving images of nature, emotion, perhaps even some truth to the vindictiveness of human nature. I really felt for Werther's despair over loving someone who could not love him the same way in return.
The second part of the book was two biographical (?) notes by Goethe. I found these to be interesting, but dull. He tends to start to tell one story and then meander of into a series of others before he returns to the original story.
The third part of the book was two fairy tales. I enjoyed the first story of a romance between a mortal and a pixie. The second story was simply so strange and outrageous that it was terrible to read - although honestly I don't know if this was a poor translation of the story or the story is just that bad.

Synopsis: Tragic masterpiece explores mind of an artist in alternately joyful and despairing letters recounting an unhappy romance. Goethe addresses issues of love, death, and redemption in an influential portrayal of a character who struggles to reconcile his artistic sensibilities with the demands of the objective world.

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