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Would you like us to take another look at this review? No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback. Huffman, who combed nineteenthcentury literary histories for discussions of Werther, and Peter C. Hughes Jr. Patricia A.
Carter and Reinhart Sonnenburg, Dartmouth librarians, helped to locate elusive resources.
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Professors Lynn A. Scher and Ellis Shookman, always important sources of support, read the manuscript and provided valuable editorial advice. Finally, I dedicate this study to Wat and Max. Works Cited Assel, Jutta. Werther-Illustrationen: Bilddokumente als Rezeptionsgeschichte. Georg Jger, , Munich: Hanser. Claudius, Matthias. Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. In Der junge Goethe im zeitgenssischen Urteil, ed. Peter Mller, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, Originally published in the Wandsbecker Bote October 22, Gres, Jrn, ed.
Dsseldorf: Goethe-Museum. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Goethens Schriften, erster Band.
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Habermas, Jrgen. Thomas Burger. Herrmann, Hans Peter, ed. Goethes Werther: Kritik und Forschung.
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Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Lukcs, Georg. Die Leiden des jungen Werther. In Herrmann, a, Mann, Thomas. Goethes Werther. Pike, Burton, trans. New York: Modern Library.
Plenzdorf, Ulrich. Die neuen Leiden des jungen W.
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Richard A. New York: Wiley, As Peter Hohendahl reports, the novel uncovered a rift between the adherents of the optimistic-sentimental doctrine of virtue and the exponents of Weltschmerz world-weariness; , The novels appearance coincided with another less dramatic but nevertheless significant schism that marked the tail end of a profound paradigm shift in German literary criticism.
Pre-Enlightenment critics had assessed a works literary value on the basis of classical models, invoking what were considered timeless and immutable rhetorical prescriptions that conformed to courtly expectations. Wit and power of expression were of course crucial ingredients, but these qualities, too, had to match the fixed standards of cultivated learning. That way, a literary work exemplified its authors erudition and inventiveness; it also reflected these qualities back onto the authors patron.
Readers, too, in appreciating a work appropriately, were giving public witness to their own refinement and good breeding. Over the course of the eighteenth century, German critics gradually developed a new notion of criticisms purpose. The new theories might still give traditional poetics the benefit of the doubt, but even established judgments ultimately had to withstand the scrutiny of reason. Another new consideration was the growing recognition that evaluative criteria once thought to be universal were in fact influenced by historical context: as readers expectations changed over time, so did the notions of how to meet them.
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Enlightened critics, for all their differences, shared an assumption that the location of a works value, the source of its legitimacy, had migrated from a set of supposedly timeless rules to the emotional effect that it exercised on contemporary recipients. With this shift came an increased emphasis on an individual readers experience. When older critics speak of a works truth, they mean either its representation of external reality or its articulation of acknowledged verities such as the unacceptability of suicide. For the younger critics, on the other hand, truth refers to individual readers encounter with something in the text that seems to mirror a part of themselves Flaschka , This new emphasis on emotional reception still devoted primary attention to the author, who was seen as speaking from the heart, but the readers role as an active recipient grew in importance.
Critics increasingly stressed that the connection between novelist and reader was a private, individual, and necessarily sincere bond. Although reading aloud in groups was still common, eighteenth-century readers now tended to consume literary works in isolation, feeling as they did so that they were engaged in a privileged relationship with the author. And it was from this perspective that the earliest enthusiasts judged Werther. Mller , ; which, springing forth from a warm heart full of feeling, in turn presses itself upon [another] heart, eventually reaching each of its fibers and finally filling everything with lament and heartache.
Goethe, according to such critics, has fulfilled his part of the literary bargain; it is now up to his readers to open their hearts to his.
As Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse writes in Iris, the womens literary quarterly that he and Johann Georg Jacobi published from to , it is inappropriate to subject Werthers literary features to analysis, much less to suggest any deficiencies; it is not a novel, says Heinse, but rather a simple, natural expression of its heros sufferings, originating from its authors innermost heart Heinse , Readers who fail to appreciate this genuine emotion and instead get tangled up in tertiary questions of literary form or merit simply disqualify themselves as judges by revealing their own lack of heart.
The book, he stresses, was not written for those young ladies who consider Werthers overflowing heart to be immature, or who join the philosophers in condemning his suicide. It is intended for nobler hearts, those who will savor the novel more than once. Heinse claims to speak for such readers when he extends heartfelt thanks to the genius that gave them this gift of Werthers sufferings As these reviews assume, the reading experience establishes an individual connection between author and reader; but there is a further effect that is produced among readers themselves, creating a group of kindred souls who partake of the general fervor for the work, its characters, and its author.
Werthers and Lottes shared enthusiasm for the poetry of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock letter of July 16 is an obvious example, but the phenomenon extended beyond Werther and constituted a widespread and even self-conscious attempt to form a literary public. An enthusiasm for Goethe or Rousseau or Klopstock or Shakespeare brought together people of feeling who were eager to join hearts see Lenz , In welcoming Goethes sudden influence on the national literature,.
Christian Heinrich Schmid describes him as eschewing theoretical issues and instead forging sympathetic bonds with Herder and others through a shared reverence for Shakespeare , This emotional affinity would then, such critics hoped, expand to embrace additional authors, a sense of nationhood, and ultimately bourgeois values in general. Jrgen Habermas tells how the relations between author, work, and public changed.