The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1787 version
September 4, 2008 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Is there a reasonable English translation of Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" in the 1787 version? Thomas Carlyle and the nowadays authoritative translation by Burton Pike both used the 1774 version, but Goethe went thoroughly over it for his Complete Works. Online and printed editions fail in most cases to tell the version used. Can you recommend a book or even an online source?
posted by Wolfen to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't but offer what's in my copy. Just a bog-standard Signet Classic paperback. Translator is Catharine Hutter and the Foreword mentions the reworking into the 1780s, but is a little flimsy on where its text is coming from by appending (1774) to the title in the first page bio.
posted by rhizome at 4:55 PM on September 4, 2008

The Victor Lange translation is of the 1787 edition: it's available in the Princeton Complete Works.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:00 PM on September 4, 2008

The 1787 version is the one that is generally published. Are you certain the Carlyle and Pike versions relied on the 1774 version? If there is an episode about a farmhand who falls for his employer (the September 4 entry in the postscript), you are reading the 1787 version. In any event, I recommend the Mayer-Bogen translation, which relies on the 1787 version.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 7:34 PM on September 4, 2008

Response by poster: Come to think of it, I thought that the Wikisource text was the 1774 version, because it mentions a year at all ("first published in 1774"...), and the Bartleby text, too, from some similar annotation. The tip to look for the 4th-September-farmhand is fine.

You have been good help already. Thank you all!
posted by Wolfen at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2008

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