The Sorrows of Young Werther

  • by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Narrated by Jim Donaldson
  • 5 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Sorrows of Young Werther was Goethe's first major success, turning him from an unknown into a celebrated author practically overnight. Napoleon Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of European literature. He thought so highly of it that he wrote a soliloquy in Goethe's style in his youth and carried Werther with him on his campaigning to Egypt. It also started the phenomenon known as the "Werther-Fieber" ("Werther Fever") which caused young men throughout Europe to dress in the clothing style described for Werther in the novel.
Werther made Goethe one of the first international literary celebrities. Towards the end of his life, a personal visit to Weimar became crucial to any young man's tour of Europe. Werther was an important novel of the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and influenced the later Romantic literary movement.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Best before middle age

It's interesting to hear such an influential book, and had I read/listened to it 20 years ago I'd have found it fascinating. I think everyone starts out like Werther and gradually ends up like the Ambassador as the years roll by, and sadly I found it a bit of chore in the end.

Faultless narration and production - one of the best I've heard.
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- Mr

Foreword great, story dated, audio badly read

Would you try another book written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or narrated by Jim Donaldson?

Goethe: yes. Donaldson: no.

This was a massive best-seller in the 18th century and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. The introduction is brilliant. The story itself is overly slow and melodramatic for modern tastes. It might have been more enjoyable if the reader had taken a bit more care to study passages first.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Charlotta -- beautiful and full of life -- but a bit one-dimensional.


What didn’t you like about Jim Donaldson’s performance?

He often uses the wrong phrasing which doesn't help when you're trying to understand prose written a few centuries ago. And he often reads one person's dialogue in another characters voice. In addition, words like "foliage" and "whilst" and the German word "Herr" are consistently mispronounced, which is very distracting.


Could you see The Sorrows of Young Werther being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

It would need to be transposed to a different time period to be a success as a movie or TV series.


Any additional comments?

Choose a more modern translation and get someone like Alfred Molina to read it.

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- Caroline Lawrence

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-09-2012
  • Publisher: Trout Lake Media