Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Plenzdorf, Ulrich “The New Sufferings of Young W."

Plenzdorf, Ulrich “The New Sufferings of Young W." (Die neuen Leiden des jungen W.) - 1972

Any German who visited school after 1972 will have read this book as well as Goethe's “The Sorrows of Young Werther” (which probably will have been read by any German visting school after 1774).

Same as the original "Sorrows", the "New Sufferings" spoke to the people. Ulrich Plenzdorf grew up in the German Democratic Republic. His play is not a nostalgic memoir of one of the greatest stories ever written in the German language, it is a criticism of society.

We hear about  a young man reading Goethe's masterpiece and finding a lot of similarities to his own life. The author uses the slang the youth language of the time which contributes to the familiar feeling you get when reading about this young man and his problems.

The play was an instant success in both parts of Germany and certainly belongs to the major works by German authors.

3 comments:

  1. After reading both parodies of The Sorrows of Young Werther, I have to say that The Sorrows of Young Mike is the better of the two. Ulrich Plenzdorf did a good job but his story doesn't take any steps forward compared with John Zelazny version, but I possibly feel this way because I read the English translation. Zelazny's version is not simply a retelling and the only thing it is lacking is a German translation, which is something that is supposedly in the works. If you want to read a parody of Goethe's classic tale, you should read The Sorrows of Young Mike.

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    1. Thank you so much for that information. I had not heard about "The Sorrows of Young Mike" and will definitely go and get it.

      Maybe it is not the translation that let you down (even though that could very well be the case) but the fact that this was written in the 1970s and that the author tried to link the story to his own life in the GDR. It was originally meant to be a play (and it has been played, as well) and not supposed to be a book. It was more a socially critical work than a parody.

      In any case, I would want to read "The Sorrows of Young Mike" in the original version, the language it has been written in. I always say if I read a translation (which I do if a book is written in a language I don't understand) there is a third guy in the conversation.

      Thank you for letting me know about this, thank you for your contribution.

      Have a good weekend,
      Marianne

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  2. After reading both parodies of The Sorrows of Young Werther, I have to say that The Sorrows of Young Mike is the better of the two. Ulrich Plenzdorf did a good job but his story doesn't take any steps forward compared with John Zelazny version, but I possibly feel this way because I read the English translation. Zelazny's version is not simply a retelling and the only thing it is lacking is a German translation, which is something that is supposedly in the works. If you want to read a parody of Goethe's classic tale, you should read The Sorrows of Young Mike.

    ReplyDelete