The Sorrows of Young Werther is a 1774 epistolary novel by German writer J. W. von Goethe which he wrote when he was 24, and it’s a very famous book. It swept Europe, it swept teens' fashion. People died. Parents were outraged. It catapulted Goethe to infamous stardom. Basically, it struck a very, very sensitive nerve.
Many people who were forced to read it in school hate it, and I used to be one of these people, until I wasn’t anymore. I think this book is super funny, and super sad, and touching in one of those ways that you realise only years later.
Today I subscribed to Dracula Daily which looks like enormous fun and gets me excited to open my e-mails. I immediately thought that posting epistolary novels on Substack is a great idea and that I wanted to try it, so Werther came to mind. The posting schedule spans from May 4th, 2022, to Christmas, 2023, and starting today (if you like) Werther will be sending you e-mails following that schedule. It’s still a thin book, so while the schedule might sound daunting, there’ll be longer periods of time without any e-mails and you’ll almost forget that you signed up for this. And then, bam!, he’s in your inbox again! So buckle your seatbelts.
Also, I chose to rewrite large portions of the diary entries (but mostly in style) and to keep some of the original language. In my head, Werther always sounds like a poor little meow meow, like a teen or young adult who gets way too invested in posting on his 2014 Tumblr, and I wanted his sound to reflect that a bit. A big part of that modern take on Werther is his obsession with pop culture, like more current songs and movies - the original Werther was obsessed with pop culture too and that’s integral to the plot, but the references won’t land right with a modern audience, so I’m reflecting that as well. If you’re interested in the original with unchanged Klopstock references, it’s right over there on Project Gutenberg.
That being said, thank you for subscribing, and welcome to the ride. Spoiler alert: There will be no vampires here, only emo boys.