A loosely autobiographical novel, this was Goethe's first major success, turning him from an unknown into a celebrated author practically overnight. The majority of the story is a collection of letters written by Werther, a young artist with a very sensitive and passionate temperament, sent to his friend Wilhelm. In these letters Werther gives a very intimate account of his stay in the fictive village Wahlheim, where he meets and falls in love with Charlotte, who is, however, already engaged to an older man named Albert. Despite the pain this causes Werther, he spends the next several months cultivating a close friendship with both of them. Translated by R.D. Boylan and Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole
ight charmed me. I sat down upon a plough opposite, and sketched with great delight this little picture of brotherly tenderness. I added the neighbouring hedge, the barn-door, and some broken cart-wheels, just as they happened to lie; and I found in about an hour that I had made a very correct and interesting drawing, without putting in the slightest thing of my own. This confirmed me in my resolution of adhering, for the future, entirely to nature. She alone is inexhaustible, and capable of forming the greatest masters. Much may be alleged in favour of rules, as much may be likewise advanced in favour of the laws of society: an artist formed upon them will never produce anything absolutely bad or disgusting; as a man who observes the laws, and obeys decorum, can never be an absolutely intolerable neighbour, nor a decided villain: but yet, say what you will of rules, they destroy the genuine feeling of nature, as well as its true expression. Do not tell me "that this is too hard, that they only restrain and p
Most of the book is written as a epistolary novel in the form of letters written by the 'me' (Werther) to his friend Wilhelm. This book is typical for the 'Sturm und Drang'-period, it is a reaction to the rationalism of the Enlightenment and advocates listening to your heart, feelings take precedence.
In this book the student Werther falls in love with Lotte, who is engaged to Albert. I won't tell anymore about what happens because I don't want to give away the ending, but there is a lot of emotions, feelings, hurt and desperation before this book ends.
Beautiful, a work of genius and a true masterpiece.