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The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was originally published in 1774. An epistolary novel, and one that influenced the Romantic movement, it turned Goethe into a literary star overnight. In the book, Werther, a sensitive young artist becomes involved in a love triangle when he meets Charlotte - he falls in love with her but unfortunately for him, Charlotte is engaged. The story details Werther's intense responses to his unrequited love. Goethe later sought to distance himself from the book and the whole Romantic movement. However, even though he wrote it when he was only 24, in his old age, it was the only work that some people still knew him by.
The book was so popular in it's day that it inspired merchandise (including perfume, and prints), caused young men to start wearing the clothes Werther wears in the book, and Napolean Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of literature.
There was another, more peculiar consequence of The Sorrows of Young Werther - that of copycat suicides taking place, with the young men taking their life being found dressed in the same clothing, and often with a copy of the book at the scene. This was noted with concern by authorities and in 1775, the novel and the clothing were banned in Leipzig, Germany, and the novel was banned in Denmark and Italy.
Part of Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.
Part of the Harvard Classics set.
This book has 66 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1774. This is a translation by R.D. Boylan.
Production notes: This ebook of The Sorrows of Young Werther was published by Global Grey on the 9th September 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Self-portrait' by Jacques-Louis David.
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