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This is nonfiction commentary. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Source: Wikipedia.

The Sorrows of Young Werther Glossary

Free updates online. Not illustrated. Excerpt: Ossian is the narrator and supposed author of a cycle of poems which the Scottish poet James Macpherson claimed to have translated from ancient sources in the Scots Gaelic. Although the poems were well-received, many critics voiced concerns about their authenticity, a debate that continued into the 20th century. Your ongoing donations are essential for The LiederNet Archive to continue in its mission of providing this unique resource to the world, so if you didn't get a chance to contribute during the overhaul drive, your help in any amount is still valuable.

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Text added to the website: Last modified: Line count: 16 Word count: Gentle Reminder This website began in as a personal project, and I have been working on it full-time without a salary since The LiederNet Archive. Last modified: Line count: 16 Word count: Gentle Reminder. This website began in as a personal project, and I have been working on it full-time without a salary since Wornach blickst du auf die Haide?

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Lebe wohl, ruhiger Strahl. Erscheine, du herrliches Licht von Ossians Seele! Submitted by Melanie Trumbull Authorship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - , no title, appears in Leiden des jungen Werther [novel] [ author's text checked 1 time ] Based on a text in English by James Macpherson pretending to translate "Ossian" - , no title, appears in The Songs of Selma Go to the text.

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Navigation Home. Guide Books. Parallel Texts. Hall of Fame. Early Modern. Web Links. Werther is a powerful and dangerous book: rarely has suicidal depression been depicted with such eloquence and charm.

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The book should come with health warnings, and indeed it does. However, apart from the brief interpolations by the editor at the beginning and end of the novel, and the occasional footnote e.

The Sorrows of Young Werther

The novel soon became a bestseller. Its epistolary form drew expertly on the contemporary discourses of Pietism and Empfindsamkeit sensibility which were embodied in the letter-writing culture of the time. In the 18th century reading letters aloud was an essential part of the culture of sensibility, based on the public celebration of love and emotion.

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  • Such public demonstrations of private emotion were intrinsic to the emergence of the bourgeois public sphere in the 18th century , since these rituals of sensibility helped to provide a forum in which questions of economic and social status could be articulated and negotiated. In the 18th century it was common for novels to claim factual authenticity.

    The anonymous publication of Werther in left open the possibility that these letters were not fiction, but fact. Like Werther, Jerusalem was suffering from unrequited love for a married woman, Elisabeth Herd. These details, combined with the intimate epistolary form, give a plausible, almost documentary appearance to Werther. The novel takes the conventions of literary Empfindsamkeit sensibility and gives them a pathological twist. The result is a compulsive, supercharged emotionality.

    In the first letter, 4 May , Werther admits he has a tendency to dwell imaginatively on his misfortune, and spends his time weeping for the Count of M. This is an astonishing claim. On one level this is evidently untrue, since an artist can only be judged in terms of what he or she actually achieves.

    On another level, though, this expresses how Werther prefers the imaginative potential of the inner life to genuine, tangible achievement. On 22 May Werther says he finds a world inside himself, and that the real world is a prison which one can leave whenever one wants.


    On 16 June Werther describes his first sight of Lotte, slicing a loaf of bread for her six younger siblings. That evening Werther dances with Lotte at a country ball. Lotte tells Werther she is as good as engaged to Albert, and at once a thunderstorm breaks out pathetic fallacy. On 1 July Werther describes his visit to a pastor in a mountain village with Lotte and her sister. When Werther is courteous to Friederike, Herr Schmidt becomes bad-tempered and jealous.