The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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This was Goethe's first major success, though it also lead to some difficulties. It started "Werther Fever"; some young men so identified with Werther that that they began dress like him. It also lead to more than 2,000 copycat suicides. The problem became so concerning to the authorities that a rival 'happy ending' was published by Friedrich Nicolai, another author. Goethe was incensed and published a poem in which Nicolai defecates on Werther's grave, starting a literary war that lasted all his life.

All-time Classic.Published 1902. (121 Kb)