We discuss here Friedrich Blanckenburg’s review of J. W. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). The review, of which we include the Spanish translation of several passages, was published only a few months later than Goethe’s controversial and revolutionary novel and constitutes a valuable document not only of its reception, but also of the theorisation about the genre in the context of the late Second Enlightenment in Germany. Indeed, it accounts for a central feature of this period: the sensible, empfindsam reception, which would have a beneficial effect on sociability and customs. Moreover, in a somewhat ambiguous relationship with this call for the socially useful empathy of the critic and the reader, the author presents elements that point strikingly towards a doctrine of the autonomy of the aesthetic sphere. It remains unclear whether this is due to a “lack of clarity” in the review or a lucid interpretation of the “double voice” proposed by Goethe in his famous epistolary novel.
Werther’s reception; sensibility; theory of the novel; period of the Second Enlightenment