Feedback through mail replies

From Dennis
"Dear Werther:
Thank you so much for your letters! Although I miss having you near me, dear friend, these messages from you make me realize all the more how much you mean to me. Already in you first letter I was happy to learn that you plan to enjoy the present moment and not to dwell in past misfortune, as you have done so often in the past. Your descriptions of the May countryside and the people you have met make me hope that this will truly be a new beginning for you. Have you visited already the manager of the royal estate and met his children and eldest daughter? You always have been a lover of children, and we know that you have an eye for the fairer sex. Keep me informed!

Today, though, I am writing with some concern about your most recent letter. "Life is a dream": a very general reflection, but I do not like the direction in which you seem to be taking this thought. Is life the prison that you seem to find it? Does that make you and me merely fellow prisoners? You know how I always encourage you to live for the present moment; in fact, you seem to want to try to do this, as you showed in your wonderful letter of 10 May, where I felt as though I were with you observing Nature in all its springtime glory. But now it sounds as though this letter was just a means of painting "our prison walls with colourful figures and bright views" !

Werther, you have such a wealth of talents and observations--use them! If you actually try and paint, which you were learning to do so well, you will see that there is more to the real world than the world that swims before your eyes when you withdraw into yourself. Be careful about slipping back into the romantic dreaminess that only draws us away from our tasks in life! Above all, learn that true freedom does not mean that you can "quit this prison" (whatever this is supposed to mean!) but rather making the best of what we are given in life!

I know you are thinking: "haven't I heard this song from you before?" Well, I suppose I have my favorite ideas as you do, and maybe I repeat them too often. But one thing I can't repeat often enough: continue to see in me your true friend, who wants only the best for you!

Yours in friendship,

From USHHSU girl
"I think you should find a new love, one that surpasses the naive innocence of charlotte. someone that is seductive and naughty, even just for awhile to take your mind off this charlotte character. after all, it seems that charlotte is very immature and school girlish in her actions and thought."

From Mike
"Hey Werther get an xbox it seems to help me out whenever I am lonely."

Feedback through mass media

Radio program "Studio 360"

New York-based radio program "Studio 360" which is diffused on more than a hundred radio stations across the U.S., reported about "". Hear more about the background of the novel as well as the background of the site itself!
Studio 360 Website
Report on this site in "life stream"-format

Goethe Society of North America

"On another note, you may be interested to learn that Die Leiden des jungen Werther has entered the Digital Age. Courtesy of Thilo von Pape and Gerhard Rolletschek, Werther will now send you his letters by email - even substituting Wilhelm’s name with yours! Just visit; also available in English at"

You've Got Mail... from Goethe!

'Die Leiden des jungen Werther' via Email
Goethe via Email

"You may be familiar with e-books - digital versions of novels and other literary works. We wrote about the topic of e-books in German earlier in "German in Your Palm." But now it's possible to receive daily installments of Goethe's epistolary novel (Briefroman, "letter novel") Die Leiden des jungen Werthers / The Sorrows of Young Werther, delivered each day via email. (In Goethe's time "Werther" took an s-ending, today it's just plain "des Werther" - pron. VER-ter.)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) published his worldwide bestselling novel in 1774. Die Leiden des jungen Werther spread rapidly across German-speaking Europe and then around the world in many languages, including English. The Sorrows of Young Werther appeared in the United States in 1775. Goethe's Briefroman was written in the form of a series of letters (dated 1771) that the fictional "young Werther" sent to his friend Wilhelm. Through the letters we learn about the places Werther visits, as well as his pain and suffering connected with a love interest. Things end badly when Werther takes his own life over unrequited love. Goethe's book became a huge bestseller at the time. But it also had an unfortunate side effect: it is said to have inspired copycat suicides all around the globe in the 1770s.

Digital Goethe - in German and English
Fortunately, no one today would be inspired to take such a drastic step because of what we would now term a melodramatic "potboiler" (without the sex). But for students of German, the email versions of Werther offer a unique opportunity. Not only can you read Goethe in the original German, but you can read the English translation. By subscribing to both (it's free), even advanced beginners can read Goethe and learn German at the same time.

A Student Project
The digital Goethe project is the work of two German university students in Munich. Thilo von Pape and Gerhard Rolletscheck came up with the idea of sending out the letters from Goethe's novel via email. Subscribers can choose to receive daily or weekly installments, or even to have each letter delivered on the actual days in the novel. Von Pape has also created a Web site for the Austrian writer Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). His extensive Rilke site offers information about the poet, and you can read Rilke's poetry and letters. There's even a Rilke forum. (See links below.)

French - Französisch
Francophones will enjoy another email site for the 18th century French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos. Published eight years after Goethe's, this much more erotic Briefroman was a big scandal at the time. Like its German counterpart, Liaisons also ends with a suicide. Was the 18th century really that depressing?

Idea and Design:
Gerhard Rolletschek (
and Thilo von Pape

Other projects: