Visiting an idyllic German village, Werther, a sensitive and romantic young man, meets and falls in love with sweet-natured Lotte. Although he realizes that Lotte is to marry Albert, he is unable to subdue his passion for her and his infatuation torments him to the point of absolute despair. The first great ‘confessional’ novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther draws both on Goethe’s own unrequited love for Charlotte Buff and on the death of his friend Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem. The book was an immediate success and a cult rapidly grew up around it, resulting in numerous imitations as well as violent criticism and even suppression for its apparent recommendation of suicide. Goethe’s sensitive exploration of the mind of a young artist at odds with society and ill-equipped to cope with life is now considered the first great tragic novel of European literature. This edition includes notes and an introduction by Michael Hulse who explores the origins of the novel in the author’s life and examines its impact on European culture.
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