Plenzdorf, Ulrich "The New Sufferings of Young W." (German: 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.
From the back cover:
"One of the most talked-about works ever published in the German Democratic Republic! This innovative novel by an East German writer is a worthy companion to the classic it parodies and parallels: Goethe's The Sufferings of Young Werther. Goethe and J. D. Salinger were the two greatest influences on Edgar Wibeau, 'Young W.' Edgar is a 17-year-old with the frustrations of teenagers all over the world, living with the added pressures of an East-bloc state. A model all-GDR boy, the son of a factory director, he suddenly drops out. But not from socialism per se--just from conformity, picky regulations, and official disapproval of jeans, the blues, and girls. Hiding out, he finds and devours an old copy of The Sufferings of Young Werther. From then on he wards off reality with Goethe texts, and young Wibeau's fate is superimposed on that of Werther like a transparent overlay. It is an ironic and revealing linkage."