Werther, a sensitive young artist, finds himself in Wahlheim, a quiet, attractive village in Germany where he seeks solace from the turmoils of love. It is a young spring, and he hopes that arcadian solitude will prove a genial balm to his mind. But his romantic tendency rules otherwise, and he falls in love with Charlotte - Lotte - even though he knows she is affianced to another.
In a series of letters to his friend, Wilhelm, he charts the course of his love, which rises to passion and obsession and, ultimately, tragedy.
The Sorrows of Young Werther is the iconic love story which helped to usher in the Romantic age. Partially autobiographical, von Goethe, aged just 24, wrote it in just six weeks, and when it appeared in 1774 it immediately established his reputation. Told through the protagonist's eyes, it is the gradual rise of Werther's strong feelings checked by attempts at restraint and complicated by a friendship with Lotte's husband that keeps the listener on edge - especially when read with sympathy, as here, by Leighton Pugh.
Translated by R. D. Boylan; revised by Leighton Pugh.