The Sufferings of Young Werther: A New Translation
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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"A highly readable, sensitive, and lively Werther. Corngold is both faithful to the German and true to the demands of a modern English text" ―Jeremy Adler, Times Literary Supplement
A masterpiece of European imagination, The Sufferings of Young Werther is the classic Sturm und Drang tale of youthful angst and tragedy. The acclaimed translator Stanley Corngold brings new passion and precision to Goethe's timeless novel of obsessive love and madness in this magnificent new translation.
Goethe's themes of unrequited love, the pain of rejection, deepening despair, and their tragic consequences are as relevant today as when the novel was first published in 1774. His hugely influential novel informed the writing of, among others, Franz Kafka and Thomas Mann.
In translating The Sufferings of Young Werther, Corngold follows the German text closely, never knowingly using a word that was not current in English at the time the novel was written and yet maintaining a modern grace and flair. The result is an eagerly awaited translation that speaks to our time through the astonishing liveliness of Goethe's language―as well through the translator's own.
The thing explains itself!—I knew everything that I now know before Albert came; I knew that I had no claim on her, nor did I make one—that is, insofar as it is possible to feel no desire in the presence of such loveliness.—And now this fool is wide-eyed with surprise when another man actually appears and takes the girl away from him. I grit my teeth and scoff at my misery, and I would scoff doubly and triply at those who would say I ought to submit, since nothing can be done.—Get these
agitated, instinctively bite open a vein in order to breathe freely. This is how I often feel, I’d like to open a vein that would grant me eternal freedom. MARCH 24 I have asked the Court for my dismissal and will, I hope, receive it, and you will forgive me for not asking your permission first. I simply had to go away, and I already know everything that you would say to persuade me to stay, and so—Break it gently to my mother, I can’t help myself, and she will have to accept the fact that I
to come for me; just wait another fortnight and expect a letter from me with more details. It is vital not to pluck anything before it’s ripe. And a fortnight more or less can make a big difference. I’d like you to tell my mother that she must pray for her son and that I ask her forgiveness for all the vexation I have caused her. It was my fate to grieve those to whom I owed joy. Farewell, my dearest friend! May all the blessings of heaven be upon you! Farewell! What transpired in Lotte’s soul
renowned in war, came, and sought Daura’s love. He was not long refused; fair was the hope of their friends. Erath, son of Odgal, repined; his brother had been slain by Armar. He came disguised like a son of the sea; fair was his cliff on the wave, white his locks of age; calm his serious brow. Fairest of women, he said, lovely daughter of Armin! a rock not distant in the sea bears a tree on its side; red shines the fruit afar. There Armar waits for Daura. I come to carry his love! She went; she
landscape—by hills and peaks and floods. And here, where Nature has ceased to be the object of the painter’s masterful art, it can become a demon too, offering, in its domination of the individual mind, a tempting alternative to consciousness: unconsciousness, ecstasy, self-loss. Franz Kafka, whose work is shot through with reminiscences of Werther—and who admitted his dependence on Goethe—wrote of the life-task: “not to shunt off the ego but consume it,” which defines the artist’s task