A revised edition followed in It was one of the most important novels in the Sturm und Drang period in German literature , and influenced the later Romantic movement. Goethe, aged 24 at the time, finished Werther in five-and-a-half weeks of intensive writing in January—March Most of The Sorrows of Young Werther is presented as a collection of letters written by Werther, a young artist of a sensitive and passionate temperament, to his friend Wilhelm.
These give an intimate account of his stay in the fictional village of Wahlheim based on Garbenheim, near Wetzlar , [ citation needed ] whose peasants have enchanted him with their simple ways. There he meets Charlotte, a beautiful young girl who takes care of her siblings after the death of their mother.
Werther falls in love with Charlotte despite knowing beforehand that she is engaged to a man named Albert, eleven years her senior.
Despite the pain it causes him, Werther spends the next few months cultivating a close friendship with them both. He suffers great embarrassment when he forgetfully visits a friend and unexpectedly has to face there the weekly gathering of the entire aristocratic set.
He is not tolerated and asked to leave since he is not a nobleman. He then returns to Wahlheim, where he suffers still more than before, partly because Charlotte and Albert are now married.
Every day becomes a torturing reminder that Charlotte will never be able to requite his love. She, out of pity for her friend and respect for her husband, decides that Werther must not visit her so frequently.
He visits her one final time, and they are both overcome with emotion after he recites to her a passage of his own translation of Ossian.
Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
Even before that incident, Werther had hinted at the idea that one member of the love triangle — Charlotte, Albert or Werther himself — had to die to resolve the situation. Unable to hurt anyone else or seriously consider murder, Werther sees no other choice but to take his own life.
After composing a farewell letter to be found after his death, he writes to Albert asking for his two pistols, on the pretext that he is going "on an adventure". Charlotte receives the request with great emotion and sends the pistols. Werther then shoots himself in the head, but does not die until twelve hours later.
He is buried under a lime tree that he has mentioned frequently in his letters. The funeral is not attended by any clergy, or by Albert or Charlotte.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Die Leiden des jungen Werthers - Inhalt und Zusammenfassung
The book ends with an intimation that Charlotte may die of a broken heart. Charlotte's grief Charlotte's life was despaired of. Werther was one of Goethe's few works aligned with the aesthetic, social and philosophical ideals that pervaded the German proto- Romantic movement known as Sturm und Drang , before he and Friedrich von Schiller moved into Weimar Classicism.
The novel was published anonymously, and Goethe distanced himself from it in his later years,  regretting the fame it had brought him and the consequent attention to his own youthful love of Charlotte Buff , then already engaged to Johann Christian Kestner.
He wrote Werther at the age of twenty-four, and yet this was all that some of his visitors in his old age knew him for. He even denounced the Romantic movement as "everything that is sick. Goethe described the powerful impact the book had on him, writing that even if Werther had been a brother of his whom he had killed, he could not have been more haunted by his vengeful ghost.
Yet, Goethe substantially reworked the book for the edition  and acknowledged the great personal and emotional influence that The Sorrows of Young Werther could exert on forlorn young lovers who discovered it. As he commented to his secretary in , "It must be bad, if not everybody was to have a time in his life, when he felt as though Werther had been written exclusively for him.
The Sorrows of Young Werther turned Goethe, previously an unknown author, into a literary celebrity almost overnight. Napoleon Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of European literature, having written a Goethe-inspired soliloquy in his youth and carried Werther with him on his campaigning to Egypt.
It also started the phenomenon known as the "Werther Fever", which caused young men throughout Europe to dress in the clothing style described for Werther in the novel.
The book reputedly also led to some of the first known examples of copycat suicide. The men were often dressed in the same clothing "as Goethe's description of Werther and using similar pistols. One of these, Friedrich Nicolai , decided to create a satirical piece with a happy ending, entitled Die Freuden des jungen Werthers " The Joys of Young Werther " , in which Albert, having realized what Werther is up to, loaded chicken's blood into the pistol, thereby foiling Werther's suicide, and happily concedes Charlotte to him.
After some initial difficulties, Werther sheds his passionate youthful side and reintegrates himself into society as a respectable citizen. Goethe, however, was not pleased with the Freuden and started a literary war with Nicolai that lasted all his life, writing a poem titled "Nicolai auf Werthers Grabe" "Nicolai on Werther's grave" , in which Nicolai here a passing nameless pedestrian defecates on Werther's grave,  so desecrating the memory of a Werther from which Goethe had distanced himself in the meantime, as he had from the Sturm und Drang.
This argument was continued in his collection of short and critical poems, the Xenien , and his play Faust. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Copycat suicide.
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The Makings of the West: Peoples and Cultures. The New York Times.
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History Today. Scientific American.
Retrieved The New York Review of Books. Leiden und Freuden Werthers des Mannes. London: Pushkin Press, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Dichtung und Wahrheit Italian Journey.
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