Other Currencies

The Sorrows of Young Werther in Russian

Strasti molodogo Vertera, chast’ I–II [Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, parts 1 and 2 (complete)].

St. Petersburg: Pri imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk (Imperial Academy of Sciences), 1794. Second edition (“Vtorym tisneniem”). Large 12mo (15.3 × 9.8 cm). Contemporary full calf, spine tooled in black and with red title label; edges red; 1–124 and 125–249 pp. (consecutive pagination). Professional restoration to edges of boards; small paper repairs to tips of upper corners; contemporary ink ownership annotation to front pastedown (“Kapitan Aleksandr Ostaf’ev”); still about very good.

Complete second printing, published in two separate parts with continuous pagination, of Goethe’s epochal work and one of the first novels to earn cult status with a younger generation of readers. Although the translator is not credited, the text is identical to the version by F. Galchenkov, first published in 1781. Galchenkov was a translator at the Academy of Sciences whose translation, although flawed, remained the only published version until the appearance of a new translation by N. M. Rozhalin in 1829.

Goethe’s work was widely read and influenced the works of many well-known contemporaries, such as Lermontov. Coinciding with the peak of Russian Sentimentalism, the novel also inspired several lesser-known Russian “Wertheriades”, such as “The Russian Werther” by M. Sushkov (1775–1792), who actually committed suicide upon his novella’s completion, and a work by Nikolai Emin (1767–1814). See also: Eggeling and Schneider, Der russische Werther: Analysen und Materialien zu einem Kapitel deutsch-russischer Literaturbeziehungen; as well as a dissertation on the topic by Dina V. Lobacheva.

Svodnyi katalog, no. 1426. Not in Sopikov (see 11575 for the 1781 edition).

Rare; we cannot trace any copies at auction in the Russian market or in Western auction records. As of October 2020, KVK and OCLC only show a microform at Harvard. A copy of the first edition is held by Yale.

Book ID: 51061

Price: $3,750.00