Read Thomas Mann’s meditation on the power of literary representation and the tyranny of the writer’s imagination.
Mann’s novel, written some 150 years after Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, follows Lotte Kestner, Goethe’s real-life heroine, as she makes a pilgrimage to Weimar to meet the author who courted her forty years before. To her surprise, Lotte is greeted on her arrival as a celebrity and immediately taken up into Goethe’s set. Time and place are brilliantly evoked in Mann’s novel, but its genius lies in his masterful portrayal of Goethe himself, and of the astonishing influence he exerted on his contemporaries.
‘A masterpiece’ Stefan Zweig