The sorrows of Young Werther // Book Review // Misbah Ahmad

The thirst of people to read and understand the literature written in other languages has introduced us to the treasure of translated literature. In the process of translation, usually, the essence of the original is lost due to the differences that exist between the structures of the languages in focus, making it difficult to duplicate the piece. That is what I had in my mind when I picked “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The sorrows of Young Werther

I started reading the book with an imaginary box filled with band-aids of emotions and feelings by my side, ready to use them on every injury caused in the translation of that piece.

And I did use them not for the loss of meaning in translation but for the wounds left in my heart for the translation of the novel by R.D. Boylan from German to English was so rich in every aspect that it pierced through my soul. Trust me! I am not being dramatic, although it wasn’t entirely because of the literary devices or the very suited language, the story was equally responsible for that.

The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary novel in which the events in the life of a man named Werther are presented in a series of letters. Through his letters, Werther has expressed his feeling and beliefs on various subjects along with the reflection and attitudes of the society.

The most important event that has been documented in those letters is the love and affection he developed for a lady which proved to be a “forbidden fruit” for him for she was already committed to someone else. Thus, the story develops as the account of the longing of a lover indulged in one-sided love which could be seen beating in the words:

Sometimes I don’t understand how another can love her, is allowed to love her, since I love her so completely myself, so intensely, so fully, grasp nothing, know nothing, have nothing but her!”

He fell in love with the girl, not because of physical attraction but his strong admiration of her kind feelings towards her family. Throughout the novel, his choices reflect that he chose his heart and emotions over materialistic needs and societal bounds. It is this very characteristic of the novel which makes it a notable part of an important literary movement in German Literature: Strum and Drang Movement.

The love Werther feels, makes him restless, so much so that he can no longer contain it or express it to his beloved, who refuses to be the receiver of his feelings. This refusal or blatant rejection makes him miserable and he ends up committing suicide. 

Other than being a story of unrequited love, this novel displays the connection between faith and nature, and how valuable human emotions are. It is a depiction of philosophy similar to that of the Romantic era of English Literature which makes it a must-read novel. 

the sorrows of young werther summary is also available if you find articles boring. But here are few the sorrows of young werther quotes.

I have so much in me, and the feeling for her absorbs it all; I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing.”

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