[This is Amble Whistletown’s and Bartleby Willard’s translation of Bartleby Willard’s Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers]
The Revelation of the Young Werther
A true, albeit strange, tale
— experienced and writ down by Elizabeth Frankenstein
Soon I lost all consciousness of the outside world. It seemed to me — and the others later confirmed the impression — that we now all moved together through a long, arched tunnel. The hall was large and splendid as a cathedral — but instead of stone blocks and wooden beams, the walls and vaulted ceiling were composed entirely of flickering images. We strolled through scenes from the book, arranged in chronological order.
We saw (but did not hear — the tunnel was silent) Lotte and Werther at their first meeting in her living room, with her siblings cavorting on all sides; and then Lotte and Werther dancing in joyous harmony across the floor; but then also Lottes’s embarrassment, followed by Werther’s (inadequately established and sustained) moments of first despair. “Here she says to him, ‘Albert is a good man with an honest heart, to whom I am as good as engaged,” whispered Justine. “Indeed,” agreed Vuh quietly.
And so we advanced down the tunnel as the story playing over our heads likewise advanced. Albert comes home and the three try to be friends, but Werther cracks more and more under the strain of frustrated passion, until finally accepting a position in Weimar, in the hope that living 200 miles from Walheim will cure him of his obsession. His life in Weimar and the charming acquaintance of a charming young woman are, however, quickly undone by an unfortunate public embarrassment (or perhaps more from Werther’s exaggerated sensitivity). He returns to the Walheim area to be again near Lotte, who has meanwhiles married Albert. And everything gets worse and worse.
I should mention that all subplots also floated overhead — even those parts of the epistolatory novel that occurred only in Werther’s troubled thoughts: one saw, for example, Werther at his writing desk, the words he wrote, the accompanying (as a rule hyperbolic) expressions of his face and body, and sometimes images of surrounding recollections as well.
We made it to the last scene between Werther and Lotte — where he reads her his translation of the Celtic epic poem Ossian, by which they’re both undone and collapse in tears warm and rich; at which point he embraces her and presses his lips to hers; she repels him and flees, proclaiming from behind the locked door of an adjoining room that he may never again come to her. (Readers of the original will know that on the next day, as planned, Werther kills himself.)
Here, as across the ceiling and walls the pair bawl, Victor lifted his arm and we all stopped. “We went too far! We have to go back a bit — even though this is the scene we seek to revise.” And then he explained his idea.
He premised his plan on literature’s effect on human nature. Though Clerval and Vuh found Victor’s reasoning convincing — at least in principle —, neither could shake the worry that by this point in the story Werther was already too unmoored for us to rely solely upon a literary rescue. “That may well be,” agreed Victor, “You two remain near the unfortunate soul’s room — in the event that poesy fail us.”
Wednesday, December 22, 1772
Lee, Vuh, Victor, Clerval, Justine and I arrived in Wetzler [Editor’s Note: Town near Walheim; Werther is staying there so he can be close to Lotte]. Werther was away and wouldn’t return for several hours. Vuh and Clerval went to stand vigil at Werther’s lodgings. Before departing the hall of flickering book-scenes, Victor, Vuh, Justine and imaged horses — to ride through the fiction upon. But Justine — romantic young thing that she is — had dreamed too much verve into her horse. Her black stallion neighed frantically, throwing his head (complete with the white diamond under the giant glossy black eyes) in every possible direction, and kicking wildly, careening errantly this way and that. Victor stayed behind with Justine, to calm the manic daydream, and find him a stable. Lee and I rode to Walheim with the emergency literature.
We knew Lotte would be alone from approximately five to half-seven in the evening. The predetermined drawer sat near an open window — near enough, we’d estimated from our observations of the book, for Lee’s long arms to reach from outside. We had only to await the right moment.
At first, a couple comedies of error. Charlotte left the room; Lee opened the drawer and tapped around for Ossian; Charlotte suddenly returned; Lee retracted her long thin arm without shutting the drawer behind her; Lotte scratched her head and shut the drawer; the entire process was repeated a second time, but this time Lotte looked about in anxious bewilderment before pressing her hip to the drawer and slamming it shut with her full weight. Time was running out.
“Lift me through the window,” I shout-whispered to Lee.
“What?” said Lee.
“Now!” I said, pulling the selected reading out of her hand.
In one effortless, flowing movement, Lee moved me up, through the window, and onto the hardwood floor boards.
Fortunately, Lotte did not cry out, but remained perfectly silent. She sat on the sofa across from me. Her dainty jaw dropped ever so slightly, staring at me as if I were impossible.
“Please forgive the disturbance. However, I must request your assistance. You must replace Werther’s translation of Ossian with this passage. Here, I’ll do it myself. Ossian we hide deep in this book, lying conveniently on the table; and there, where Ossian was, we place this gentler, sweeter language. Ossian is a particularly detrimental literature for what’s about to transpire. This is a much more suitable. But I implore you, please act as if you believed that Ossian were yet here in this drawer, and bid Werther read it to you. And please not a word of my visit — to anyone! I greatly regret our lack of finesse in this intervention, but I do believe that if you could nonetheless behave naturally, and — as I’ve suggested — request he read his Ossian to you, and of course then he finds only this text, which can’t help but surprise you both, but then if you could yet press on and opine that you’re now very desirous that he read you this new, unaccounted-for selection — . If you could please perform all of that as cleverly and theatrically as you can, I believe we might yet succeed. I beg, once again, your forgiveness for the — honestly not exactly plan-true — disruption.”
I turned and stepped back towards the window. Lotte said softly — very softly, as she’d not yet fully regained her power of speech — “Please, please stop. I do not understand.” Then I turned to her very serious and sympathetic and — with the gentlest smile and as tears wobbled in my eyes — replied, “You don’t have to understand everything, Lotte.” And then she was quiet, her eyes large and fixed within my own; after a moment where our gazes — liking old friends reluctantly parting — held, supported and cherished one another, Charlotte gave a very slight but meaningful and whole-hearted nod.
I climbed into Lee’s waiting arms and the two of us hid in the hedge as the story’s action headed our way.
[From the final pages of Johann Wolfgang von Goethes Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of the Young Werther):]
[Editor’s Note: The below selection was translated by R.D. Boylan in 1854 (1854 Editor: Nathen Haskell Dole, with a lot of 2021 touch-ups by Amble Whistletown). Amble agreed with Boylan’s decision to use the “thee” and “thou” forms when translating the German informal — both when Goethe used it, and later, when Bartleby did. This allows the English reader to see when the German used “Sie” (formal “You”; the original equivalent was the now all-purpose “You”), versus “du” (informal “You”; the original equivalent being the now obsolete “Thou”).]
On Monday morning, the twenty-first of December, he wrote Charlotte the following letter, which was found sealed on his bureau after his death and given to her. I shall insert it in fragments as it appears, from several circumstances, to have been written in that manner.
“It is decided, Lotte, I want to die. I make this declaration deliberately and coolly, without any romanticism, on the morning of the day when I shall see thee for the last. As thou read these lines, O best of women, the cold grave will hold the rigid remains of that restless and unhappy soul who, in the last moments of his existence, knows no pleasure so great as that of thy conversation. I have passed a dreadful night. Or rather, let me say, an auspicious one — for it has given me resolution, it has fixed my purpose: I want to die. How I tore myself from thee yesterday, in the terrible tumult of my senses — how everything that clutched and crushed my heart and my hopeless, friendless existence — so close by thy side and yet so far from thy nearness — seized and spun me in cold, clammy nausea! I could scarcely reach my room. I threw myself onto my knees, and O God!, Thou granted a final respite in the most bitter tears. A thousand ideas, a thousand schemes raged across my soul; and finally one last, fixed, sole thought: I want to die! I lay myself down, and in the morning, in the quiet hour of awakening, the resolution remained in my heart, firm and powerful: I want to die! It is not despair; it is certitude — a resolution that I shall sacrifice myself for thee. Yes, Charlotte, why suppress — why hide it? One of us three must away, and I want to be the one. O beloved Charlotte! This tattered heart has often in its underhanded rage and fury snuck about, toying with thoughts of murdering thy husband — thee! — me! — so be it! In the bright, quiet evenings of summer, when thou sometimes wander up towards the mountains, let thy thoughts then turn to me: how I so oft came up from the valley. And then gaze across the churchyard until thou find my grave, and, by the light of the setting sun, mark how the evening breeze waves the tall grasses growing above my tomb to and fro. I was calm when I began this letter, but now, now I weep like a little boy, as these impressions of a precious past and an empty future dance vividly about.”
About ten in the morning, Werther called his servant, and, whilst dressing, told him that in a few days he intended to set out upon a journey, and bade him therefore lay his clothes in order, and prepare them for packing up, call in all his accounts, fetch home the books he had lent, and give two months’ pay to the poor dependents who were accustomed to receive from him a weekly allowance.
He breakfasted in his room and then mounted his horse and went to visit the steward, who, however, was not at home. He walked pensively up and down the garden, seemingly wishing to yet heap all the melancholy of memory upon himself.
The children did not suffer him to remain alone long. They followed him, skipping and dancing before him, and told him that after tomorrow and tomorrow and one day more, they were to receive their Christmas gift from Charlotte; and they then recounted all the wonders of which they had formed ideas in their child imaginations. “Tomorrow and tomorrow,” said he, “and one day more!” And he kissed them tenderly. He was going; but the younger boy stopped him, to whisper something in his ear. He told him that his elder brothers had written splendid New-Year’s wishes so large! One for papa, and another for Albert and Charlotte, and one for Werther; and they were to be presented early in the morning, on New Year’s Day. This quite overcame him. He gave them each something, mounted his horse, left his compliments for papa and mamma, and, with tears in his eyes, rode off.
He returned home about five o’clock, ordered the maid to look to his fire and keep it going late into the night. His servant he instructed to pack his books and linen, and to mend his clothes. It is most likely then that he penned the following addition to his final letter to Lotte:
“Thou expects me not. Thou believeth, I would obey, and not visit again till Christmas Eve. O Lotte, today or never more! On Christmas Eve thou holdest this paper in thy hand, trembling and wetting it with thy lovely tears. I will — I must! Oh, how well it stands with me — to be determined!”
In the meanwhile, Charlotte was in a pitiable state of mind. After her last conversation with Werther, she found how painful she would find parting from him, how he’d suffer from the separation.
She had, in conversation with Albert, mentioned casually that Werther would not return before Christmas Eve. Soon thereafter, Albert rode to see a civil servant in the neighborhood with whom he had some business. The distance was such that he’d have to stay the night.
She sat now alone. None of her siblings were nearby. She gave herself up to the reflections that silently rambled, with wild trampling steps, through her mind. She saw herself now forever united to a man whose love and fidelity she knew to be unfailing, to whom she felt a heart-devotion, whose calm and dependable nature seemed a special gift from Heaven upon which a good woman might reliably ground her life’s happiness. She recognized what Albert must be to her and her children, now and forever. And she saw Werther, who’d become so very dear. The cordial unanimity and agreement of their sentiments had been apparent from the very beginning of their acquaintance, and their long association and many of their shared experiences had indelibly marked her heart. She had grown accustomed to sharing every thought and feeling which interested her with him, and his absence threatened to tear a hole in her existence which would never again be mended shut. O, but could she in that moment transform him into her brother! Or if she could marry him to one of her friends — and then she could also perhaps yet fully restore his intimacy with Albert!
She considered one after the other all her closest friends, but found something objectionable in each, and found none to whom she could consent to give him.
Amid all these inner observations she felt deeply for the first time, yet still without permitting herself to completely form and inhabit the thought, that her heart’s secret longing was to keep him for herself. She interrupted the roaring train of these impassioned reflections to shout silently to herself that she could not, may not keep him. With this her pure, beautiful, otherwise so amiable and self-sufficient spirit sagged beneath a melancholy that forbid all prospect of happiness. A vice crushed her heart and dark clouds settled over her mind’s eye.
It was now half-past six o’clock, and she heard Werther’s step on the stairs. She at once recognized his voice, as he inquired if she were at home. Her heart beat audibly — we could almost say for the first time — at his arrival. It was too late to deny herself; and, as he entered, she exclaimed, with a sort of ill-concealed confusion, “You have not kept your word!” “I promised nothing,” he answered. “But you should have complied, at least for my sake,” she continued. “I implore you, for both our sakes.”
She scarcely knew what she said or did; and sent for some friends, who, by their presence, might prevent her being left alone with Werther. He put down some books he had brought with him, then made inquiries about some others, until she began to hope that her friends might arrive shortly, entertaining at the same time a desire that they might stay away.
At one moment she felt anxious that the servant should remain in the adjoining room, then she changed her mind. Werther, meanwhile, walked impatiently up and down. She went to the piano and began a menuetto, but it wouldn’t flow. She took hold of herself and sat down quietly beside Werther, who had taken his usual place on the sofa.
“Have you brought nothing to read?” she inquired. He had nothing. “There in my drawer,” she continued, “you will find your own translation of some of the songs of Ossian. I have not yet read them, as I hoped to hear you recite them, but have not yet been able to arrange it.” He smiled, and went for the manuscript, which he took with a shudder. He sat down; and, eyes full of tears, he began to read.
[Here ends the selection from Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers]
But then through his tears, Werther noticed that the wrong words lay beneath the right title. “What is this?” he whispered. He labored to breathe, and his body began to totter — like one knifed through the heart. Swaying as he walked, he found his way to the edge of the sofa and sat down. “What have you done, Lotte? The last time. My last time. What have you?” But still they glowed for one another — still the fire between their two bodies and hearts held them aloft and directed the one to the other. A glowing that weaves human souls together to make of two individuals one flesh. The glowing of that sweet pure innocent love that in other circumstances naturally, properly, and prettily leads a pair to embrace, snuggle, and make — from the depths and with the whole of their being — a sincere promise of eternal fidelity. As with Moses and the burning bush did this awareness blaze within and between them. But they both also felt sharp and clear the other inescapable particular of their situation. Werther trembled and, with chin on chest, sobbed quietly to himself.
“Please read. I would like to know what’s written there,” said Lotte with a tender, doleful voice as she moved a little closer and reached over to rest her palm oh so lightly on his shaking shoulder. Her touch — as light and delicate as the rustle of butterfly wings — traversed his body like a lightning bolt and he noticed his shoulders involuntarily straighten up and back, propelling his chest forward. Her hand, her affection, her faith were for him the most powerful of tonics.
Our church celebrates various holidays that reach deep into the heart. One can scarcely think of anything more delightful than Pentecost, or more serious and holy than Easter. The sorrow and melancholy of Holy Week and then the majesty of Easter Sunday accompany us throughout our lives. The church celebrates one of the most beautiful holidays almost in the middle of winter, when the nights are at their longest and the days their shortest, when the sun tilts most sharply against our fields and snow blankets all the meadows: Christmas. As in many lands the day before the Lord’s birthday celebration is called “Christ’s Eve”, in ours it is called “Holy Eve”; the next day, “the Holy Day”; and the night in between, “the Night of Consecration”. The Catholic Church celebrates Christ’s Day — the savior’s birthday — with its very greatest ecclesiastical pomp. In most areas, the midnight hour itself is sanctified with a resplendent nighttime celebration. The bells chime their invitation through the silent, dark, wintry midnight air. The inhabitants hurry with swinging, shadow-weaving lanterns, or over gloomy, well-known paths from snowy mountains past frosted forests and across creaking orchards to the church, from which come the sacred, solemn sounds, and which, with its long, narrow, light-filled windows, arises from and towers brightly over the middle of the town — enveloped now in ice-sheathed trees.
To the religious holiday a domestic one is added. In almost all Christian lands it is now the custom to present the children the Christ-child’s arrival — himself also a child, the most wonderful the world’s ever known — as a gay, shining, festive occasion: one that continues to work on us throughout our lives; so that sometimes even deep in old age, in the midst of troubled, melancholy or poignant memories, these childhood impressions will fly back to us upon colorful, shimmering wings, carrying us through the desolate, sorrowful, emptied night sky to times now past. It’s customary to give the children gifts, brought by the holy Christ-child, because it makes them so happy. This is usually done on Christmas Eve, as twilight gives way to darkest night. One lights candles, and usually very many, which, held securely in little candle holders, often sway with the beautiful green branches of a fir or spruce tree, standing in the center of the living room. The children are not permitted into the room until the sign is given that the holy Christ has come and left them the gifts he’d brought with him. Then the door is opened; the little ones may enter, and, by the wondrous, glittering play of lights, they see things hanging from the branches of the tree, or perhaps spread across the tabletop — things so far surpassing the wildest fancies of their imaginations that they dare not trust themselves to touch them; and then, when they finally have received these unbelievably special objects, they carry them about the entire evening in their little arms, even taking them to bed with them. When they then now and again hear the tolling of the midnight bells — by which the grownups are called to worship in the church — in their dreams, it seems to them as if little angels bustled through the heavens, or as if the holy Christ were returning home after visiting all the children of the world and leaving each of them a splendid present.
When the following day — Christ’s day — comes, it is so very solemn and festive for the children. They yawn and stretch, wearing their finest clothes, in the toasty living room early in the morning, as father and mother pretty themselves for church. At noon they sit down to an elegant dinner — better than any other dinner in the year. And then in the afternoon, or towards evening, friends and acquaintances come over, sit upon the chairs and benches, chatting with one another and gazing comfortably through the windows at the winter scenery, where either flakes drift slowly down, or a dark thick fog wraps round the mountaintops, or the cold blood-red sun sinks behind the blinking white peaks. In various places throughout the room — on a little chair, or one end of a bench, or the windowsill, lie last night’s enchanting gifts — now more familiar, intimate, and trusted.
Winter passes, then comes spring and the never-ending summer. When their mother once again tells them of the holy Christ — that his birthday celebration is approaching, and that he will visit this time as well, it feels to the children as if an eternity has passed, as if last year’s joy lies in far, gray, foggy distance.
Because this holiday endures for so long, because it’s reflected radiance reaches so far into old age, we like to be present when children celebrate and delight in Christmas.
[Editor’s Note: “Rock Crystal” (rock crystal is a form of quartz prized for its lack of impurities) by Adalbert Stifter was first published (as “The Holy Night”) in 1845. The story then appeared in the short story collection “Multicolored Stones” (or “Motley Stones”, in one recent translation) in 1853. In our story, Victor and his friends travel from a nonfictional offshoot of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (published 1818 in our world, but never in their world, since in their world their story is not a fiction) into JW v. Goethe’s fictional Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (first published in 1774, but set in 1772). So how did Victor Frankenstein get his hands on this piece by Adalbert Stifter (who was just thirteen years old in 1818)? The only logical explanation: Victor Frankenstein’s fiction portal could also transport one into books that had not yet been written, and Victor had already — for some reason or other — visited Adalbert Stifter’s “Rock Crystal”.]
Werther leaned back and sank into the sofa. Exhaustion overwhelmed him. But he found the feeling rather cozy and pleasant — like a child who — refusing to avow his lassitude — has been fighting against sleep for hours with all of his dwindling might, and who now finally submits to Lethe and finds therein an unexpected bliss.
(Is this what death is like? We Christians do wrong to so desperately flee the blessed union with our savior awaiting us on the other side of this flimsy, wind-tossed veil. And yet it is the nature of flesh to dread its demise, and thus do we resist and resist. Until finally we can resist no more and collapse into death, where we are then surprised to find the grace that we’d held so feebly with our imperfect, world-tossed faith fully accepting us, loving us, and carrying us up and up into the beating heart of Joy Itself — a grace surpassing the wildest fancies of our imaginations!)
Werther drifted into a deep and still sleep. Lotte wanted to fling her arms around his waist and lay her head in his lap — that she might press her being against his calm breath. Instead, she called the servant to her.
“Werther is not well. Please take him into your bedroom. I apologize for the intrusion, but he is not well and we must let him sleep his fever off.” The old man, who had long served Lotte’s family and who knew only too well the nature and origin of Werther’s affliction, nodded with a soft, benign smile.
Albert arrived home the following day at ten o’clock in the morning. Werther lay yet asleep. Lotte told her husband of the previous night’s incident — without detailing too precisely the particulars. Albert said little. He sat broodingly leaning slightly over the table, broad shoulders tense, high forehead creased, deep eyes scowled. But then Lotte sat across from him and leaned forward, laying her hands on his. She gazed with giant, loving, pained eyes into his narrowed ones and said, relaxed and straightforward, “Your love is the greatest blessing of my life. I know that things with Werther cannot remain as they have been. I believe that he will now also understand that. If not, we’ll have to reconsider our relationship with him. But when he wakes up today, please grant us both a little more patience and welcome him to our home.” Her loving manner and soft words calmed Albert, and as his fear and jealousy faded, the attached anger and impatience also dissolved into a tender concern for his wife and her strange friend.
Werther first appeared — hair combed and face washed — at eleven in the morning. He found Lotte alone the sofa, at needlework. The day was clear and a smooth supple winterlight fell across the window upon her supple form and radiant youth. Werther stood pie-eyed in front of her. “From whence that text, Lotte?”
“You’d not believe me, were I to tell you. It is best understood as the handiwork of faeries. As you perhaps noticed, the handwriting is a woman’s — but not mine.
Werther shrugged his shoulders and put hand to hip. “Be that as it may, I would like to read the fool essay once more.” Lotte replied that it lay on the little table next to the dresser, on top of his Ossian. He stood over the table and read in silence.
“Foolish? No, not entirely. The images and argumentation connect and strengthen one another. Kitschy? Perhaps for some natures upon the first reading, but soon the words seep in, spread out, and begin to work upon the unsuspecting soul.
“In the beginning, concerning Christmas: ‘that continues to work on us throughout our lives; so that sometimes even deep in old age, in the midst of troubled, melancholy or poignant memories, these childhood impressions will fly back to us upon colorful, shimmering wings, carrying us through the desolate, sorrowful, emptied night sky to times now past. It’s customary to give the children gifts, brought by the holy Christ-child, because it makes them so happy.’ ‘Because’, Lotte: ‘because it makes them so happy’!
“And then at the end: ‘Because this holiday endures for so long, because it’s reflected radiance reaches so far into old age, we like to be present when children celebrate and delight in Christmas.’
“Lotte! Is it not written, ‘It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones’ ?! We owe the children the peaceful cyclical progression of local traditions and of life itself. Woe unto him who disrupts the homely simplicity and monotony of the child’s world! Woe unto those who would rob the children’s shimmering, in-the-spring-air-turning and the sunlight-every-which-way-reflecting wings!
“Lotte! I considered sensitivity and intensity the proof of my heart’s purity, but the proof of a pure heart can be found only within the heart itself. In and of itself is passion of little value. The proper employment of passion consists — as with all other human attributes —solely in thinking, feeling, and acting with gentle love and kind resolve. How easily in the drunken frenzy of passion may one deceive oneself about oneself: One possesses the most phenomenal insights, attains to an extraordinary yet subtle and self-effacing beauty, rises effortlessly and inevitably above the general condition of the surrounding masses! But soon enough the ornate, self-deceiving via self-confusing and underhandedly self-exalting madness dissipates: One finds oneself once again standing upon naught but the blackest, most soul-bereft void. And down, down, down one plummets.
“I had always blamed the void. But the void is not emptiness, nor even void, but only stillness; and the void does not lie, neither flatters, nor derides, nor in any part deceives. The void lacks solid objects and legible, neatly-written answers. When drifting through the void we feel uncertain and insecure. And so we flee again and again into the imaginary salvation of passion’s echo chamber: We again and yet again turn aside from the worldsoul — though it beam forever and always, bright as a million suns, from our own inmost beings outward. And thus do we poor fools continuously harm our own accord with and posture within our most precious possession and one true salvation.
“Yes, Lotte, the void is completely still, and when we likewise hold ourselves utterly still, we perceive that the void is awash in brightly shining, and in all-possible-directions sparkling wings. In the void we find the wings that carry us through this world even as they weave our minds and hearts ever more firmly and awaredly into the joyful silent helpfulness of that deeper, truer one.
“I love thee, Lotte, and no one can replace thee. We shall meet again on Christmas’s Eve. Then I shall depart. Christmas is there to give children joy, to dip them — whilst wrapped safely within the enchantments of the familiar — ever so gently and carefully into the void, wherein they find the wings whereon they shall fly through life — no matter how cold and stormy the nights may become. Adieu, Lotte, we shall soon see one another once more!”
And with these exuberantly careening words he made haste from the home of Lotte and her husband Albert.
It is always a pleasant diversion for me to stroll down the corridor of Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers. With Victor or alone, I walk quickly to the end, where the passageway splits into a short and terrible one and a long, beautiful one. I take always the happier path to see my Werther and his Fräulein von B. Yes! He writes to her, the young woman he’d met in Weimar. He writes to her and soon they begin a world together.
I watch them live well and think of that day when Lee, Vuh, Henry, Justine, Victor and I visited Walheim. And also of that day’s mustaches. You see, upon our return to our scientifically seancing bodies, we discovered that Victor’s father and brothers had protected us from all dangers except themselves: the youngest thought it a lark to draw silly mustaches on all our faces, decorating my cheeks with two giant spirals of black ink; and our other two guards — well, I guess they found it funny too!
Author: Bartleby Willard, except for the selections from Goethe’s Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers and Stifter’s Bergkristall
Translators: Amble Whistletown with Bartleby Willard; except in the selection of Goethe’s Werther: that translation was a collaboration between 1854 translator RD Boylan, his editor Nathan Haskell Dole, Bartleby, and Amble.
Editor: mostly Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew M. Watson (with, of course, no ownership of the original pieces by Goethe and Stifter)
We would like to thank Markus Jais for his corrections of the original German version (Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers). Clarifying the grammar and vocabulary choices is a fundamental part of evolving a writing. This English translation (to which we added a few emendations, clarifications, and flourishes) therefore also benefitted from his help with the German original.