The Sorrows of Young Werther (Dover Thrift Editions)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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she is perfect and why she is perfect, only that she has seized hold of all my thoughts and feelings. So much simplicity with so much understanding, so much kindness with so much steadiness, and a quietness of soul with a life in truth and activity.— But what blather that is, mere abstractions, by which not one touch of her real self is expressed. On another occasion—no, not on another occasion, I’ll tell you now. If I don’t do it now, I might never. Because, between you and me, since I began
through. I was afraid my mother might write to the Minister and make my intention harder to accomplish. But now it is done, I am free to leave—I don’t like to tell you how reluctantly they let me go, nor what the Minister wrote: you would all break out in fresh lamentations. The Crown Prince sent me twenty-five ducats for a parting gift together with a note which moved me to tears. So I shan’t need the money from my mother that I wrote for recently. 5 May I leave here tomorrow, and since my
continuous prayer. I shan’t argue, and forgive me these tears, forgive me my futile wishes.—She, my wife. Had I enfolded her, the dearest creature under the sun, in my arms—A shudder goes through me, Wilhelm, whenever Albert’s arm encircles her slim waist. And dare I say it? Why not, Wilhelm? She would have been happier with me than with him. Oh he is not the man to answer all the desires of her heart. A certain want of feeling, a want of—understand it how you will—that his heart doesn’t beat in
what is this? My own self frightens me. Is not my love for her the holiest, purest, and most brotherly love? Have I ever once felt a forbidden desire in my soul?—I shan’t claim—And now, dreams! Oh how true was the human feeling that understood such contradictions to be the work of alien forces! Last night, I tremble to say it, I held her in my arms, I pressed her hard against my heart and with unending kisses closed upon her mouth that was whispering her love. She had a wildness in her eyes and
Pastor’s wife: in characterizing her, Goethe may have had in mind the Pietist Dorothea Griesbach (1726–75), whom he had met in Frankfurt in the circle of Susanne von Klettenberg and remembered in Book 8 of Dichtung und Wahrheit as seeming ‘too severe, too dry, too learned’. fashionable moral-critical way: a tendency in contemporary theology, in C. F. Bahrdt (1741–92), for example, and J. B. Basedow (1723–90), to rationalize and secularize the person and the teachings of Christ.