Week 18


The novelist and Romanticism

Werther, the first international bestseller

Germany is often cited as the origin of the great international movement of Romanticism. It is true that the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote the first theories that initiate Romanticism. But Goethe and his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther announces the new movement as an international one that crosses all boundaries.


Chronology of the 18th Century


Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,


ISBN 0452010853



Sorrows of Young Werther,

Vintage Classics,

ISBN 0679729518

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is absolutely essential that you read The Sorrows of Young Werther without reading synopses, reviews, introductions, prefaces, or blurbs.  Beware even browsing in a bookstore: Some editions carry, right on the front or back cover, blurbs that give the whole book away in just one sentence. The Vintage Classics edition cited here is the best in English. PLEASE DO NOT READ THE W. H. AUDEN FOREWORD before reading the book. You can go back and read it later. Go right to page 3 (Book One, May 4, 1771) and start reading. The best way to read it is to set aside some time and read all the way through in one sitting. In this edition, a second short novel by Goethe, Novella, is included, beginning on page 169. Novella is NOT part of Sorrows. It is not part of this week's assignment.