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Sorrows of Young Werther

I finally finished it. I think my tolerance went up as I read it or it got less melodramatic (after that I no longer trust my judgement); I managed to get through to the end with a minimum of eye rolling.

Though when he started writing his suicide note addressed specifically to Charlotte saying basically "you're the cause of my death" and he thinks he loves her? I was more or less boggling while reading anyway, but that takes the cake. How wrapped up in yourself can you possibly be? Yes, obviously, he is not in a fit mental state, but that's amazing. (And then since he had no intention of immediately killing himself, he was obliged to add amendments to it...I assume, probably uncharitably, to twist the knife a little more. Whatever. Intentional or not, it would twist the knife. These things cannot be called love.)

I did not enjoy reading this. It's not even fun to mock because it's so self-pitying and melodramatic. There's bits where he bathes her hand in tears (I hope it was metaphorical; I am not reading it again to check). This is not how you treat someone you love. The condescension towards anyone of lower standing, perceived to be lesser, etc was constant and irritating, and Werther's naivete about children was grating (it's very much Romanticization - capital R and lower case r really - of childhood, which annoyed me when I first studied Romanticism and still annoys me.) There weren't even enjoyable rhapsodies about the landscape - which I still enjoy - because Werther would immediately have to inject his condescending social commentary or cry about Charlotte and his childhood again.

I've never liked woobies and I've never liked frail creatures. (Also I loathe the word woobie.) I've always preferred the hyper-competent people or the Scarlett O'Hara characters. Werther is pretty much the exact type of character I hate.

This is like the least helpful book review ever, but it's been a trying day.

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/175912.html.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2016 10:04 am (UTC)
Oooh dear me. Yerss. I'm re-reading Anna Karenina... and they seem to be all like this. SOOOO introspective its tormenting! Drives me batty! I loathe Anna... but can't blame her, as for Levin.. geeeez - that guy never got beyond 5 years old! BUT it does grate a lot less when you think of the ERA and times they lived in... the mindset of THEN! So poor old Werther was of the same time... so he had to treat people as he did. It's good for the mind to remind ourselves (even me who lived and 'grew up' in the forties/fifties) that things were organised so very differently. I MEAN.... engagements lasting ten or fifteen years! I am enjoying it tho... a lot more than I thought I would.

Happy mind bashing love... have a happy summer! What are you taking for your holiday readings?
Jun. 15th, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC)
haha I've never read Anna Karenina (though it is very low on my list...my eternally expanding TBR list) and eek yes the introspection got to me! IT is very true - part of the reason I was so annoyed is that Werther's idea of how to treat others (and of others) is so different to mine that it grates constantly against my modern sensibilities :P

Oof, ten year engagements. That can't have been too common, I hope.

I'm enjoying summer! Not going anywhere I don't think; started a job three months ago so don't want to be taking off giant chunks of time just yet :D but exploring my new city a lot, which is fun. I've been trying to read nonfiction history! Reading a bio of King John of England at present.
Jun. 13th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to read this for ages! I doubt I'll enjoy it either, but it's an interesting piece of history, how it became SO popular and set off SUCH a fad for, well, woobies.
Jun. 15th, 2016 11:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly! Part of what attracted me to the book was that so many people were deeply affected by it, to the point of copycat suicides; I'm always interested in works that seem to resonate so much. But it is sooo not to my taste :P I imagine this is the 18th century equivalent to Catcher in the Rye.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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