Read The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe in German

In Interlinear, the German text is followed by an English translation below each word or phrase.

How the Interlinear translation method works
How the Interlinear translation method works, vertical display

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Explanation of the Interlinear method in two steps
Explanation of the Interlinear method in two steps
More about Interlinear

What is The Sorrows of Young Werther about?

The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is a book exploring unrequited love and its consequences, the reconciliation of ideals with everyday life, and the boundless unrest of the human spirit. The book was first published in 1774 and became one of the most important works of the Sturm und Drang period of German literature, and made a huge influence on the whole Romantic movement.

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The novel that made Goethe famous!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is often considered to be the most renowned German writer in modern history. However, not everyone knows that his literary career was launched by The Sorrows of Young Werther: it won Goethe exceptional popularity, and contributed to him being enobled (hence the "von" in his name) as well as praised by people in Germany and abroad. Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have been a great fan of the novel and to have read it seven times.

How was this German translation made?

Literal but understandable

This translation follows our main principle of Interlinear translation: translating words literally and individually as long as such translation is still comprehensible. This has lead to phrasing such as:


The more usual English way of translating the phrase would be more akin to "But our mood is not in our power" or "But we cannot control our mood". However, this translation, albeit somewhat unusual in English, is still perfectly understandable. Thus we translated this phrase literally and word-by-word. However, the following would make less sense if literal:


This would be a bit harder to understand, would it not? And hence we translate such phrases idiomatically:

Das läßt sich hören!That sounds reasonable!

Embracing cognates

Just like in our other Interlinear translations of closely related languages, we try to use cognates between German and English whenever it was possible to do so.

For example, we translated Flucht as flight (and not running away), hinderte as hindered (and not prevented), selten as seldom (and not rarely), wanderung as wander (and not hike), etc.

We did this with the knowledge that there are also false cognates or simply situations where the meanings of words in German and English have diverged too much to be useful. In those cases, we did not use cognates.

We believe that such special attention to cognates can help German learners draw analogies between German and English more readily and remember German words faster.

Accompanied by audio

We add a free native speaker recorder German audiobook to all purchases of this e-book. The audiobook comes as a collection of mp3 audio files, which can be downloaded and played on your computer, phone or other device.

Translated by Stuart Wilson.

This Interlinear book includes:

  • 251 standard-book pages
  • nearly 40 thousand translated words and expressions - our longest translated Interlinear book to date!
  • original text with updated German & aligned Interlinear translations
  • a separately available German-only version of the text to get additional practice after having read the text with the Interlinear translation
  • files in the printable or electronically readable PDF format, as well as MOBI and EPUB format files for Kindles and other e-book readers, tablets, and phones - all immediately available to download
  • a free audiobook recorded by a native German speaker included!

Available to order right now.


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