The Sorrows of Young Werther

Effect on Goethe

Werther was one of Goethe's few works in the Sturm und Drang movement, before he, with Friedrich von Schiller, began the Weimar Classicism movement.

Goethe initially published the novel anonymously and also distanced himself from The Sorrows of Young Werther in his later years.[2] He regretted his fame and making his youthful love of Charlotte Buff public knowledge. He wrote Werther at the age of twenty-four, and yet some of his visitors in his old age knew him mainly from this work, despite his many others. He even denounced the Romantic movement by calling it "everything that is sick."[4]

Goethe described his distaste for the book, writing that even if Werther had been a brother he had killed, he could not have been more haunted by the vengeful ghost. Nevertheless, Goethe substantially reworked the book for the 1787 edition,[2] and acknowledged the great personal and emotional impact that The Sorrows of Young Werther could exert on those forlorn young lovers who discovered it.

In 1821, he commented to his secretary, "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."


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