'I have so much and my feeling for her devours everything, I have
so much and without her everything is nothing.' The Sorrows of
Young Werther propelled Goethe to instant fame when it first
appeared in 1774. Goethe drew on his own unhappy experiences to
tell the story of Werther, a young man tormented by his love for
Lotte, a tender-hearted girl who is promised to someone else.
Overwhelmed by his feelings, Werther begins to see only one way to
escape from his anguish. Goethe's story of a sensitive young artist
alienated from society channelled the Romantic sensibility of the
day and led to a wave of imitations. Werther's searching
introspection and the passionate intensity with which he bares his
soul have an immediacy that is all the more powerful for being
expressed in letters; charting the course of his emotions, they
give added drama to the unfolding account. David Constantine's new
translation captures the novel's lyric clarity, and his
introduction and notes illuminate Goethe's achievement.