Books Readed: The Sorrows of Young Werther

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The Sorrows of Young Werther
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
translated by Thomas Carlyle and R.D. Boylan

 

I know very well that we are not all equal, nor can be so; but it is my opinion that he who avoids the common people, in order not to lose their respect, is as much to blame as a coward who hides himself from his enemy because he fears defeat.
The human race is but a monotonous affair. Most of them labour the greater part of their time for mere subsistence; and the scanty portion of freedom which remains to them so troubles them that they use every exertion to get rid of it. Oh, the destiny of man!
This confirmed me in my resolution of adhering, for the future, entirely to nature. She alone is inexhaustible, and capable of forming the greatest masters. Much may be alleged in favor of rules, as much may be likewise advanced in favor of laws of society: an artist formed upon them will never produce anything absolutely bad or disgusting; as a man who observes the laws, and obeys decorum, can never be an absolutely intolerable neighbor, nor a decided villain: but yet, say what you will of rules, they destroy the genuine feeling of nature, as well as its true expression.
Can we never take pleasure in nature without having recourse to art?
The world runs from one folly to another; and the man who, solely from regard to the opinions of other, and without any wish or necessity of his own, toils after gold, honor, or any other phantom, is no better than a fool.
Everything around is alive with an infinite number of forms; while mankind fly for security to their petty houses, from the shelter of which they rule in their imagination over the wide-extended universe.
Nature has formed nothing that does not consume itself, and every object near it; so that, surrounded by earth and air, and all the active powers, I wander on my way with aching heart; and the universe is to me a fearful monster, forever devouring its own offspring.
But patience! all will be well; for I assure you, my dear friend, you were right: since I have been obliged to associate continually with other people, and observe what they do, and how they employ themselves, I have become far better satisfied with myself. For we are so constituted by nature, that we are ever prone to compare ourselves with others; and our happiness or misery depends very much on the objects and persons around us.
Naturalists tell of a noble race of horses that instinctively open a vein with their teeth, when heated and exhausted by a long course, in order to breathe more freely. I am often tempted to open a vein, to procure for myself everlasting liberty.

 


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Russell Etchen was born 1979 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Artist, book designer, and curator living and working in Los Angeles.

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