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Ungelenk, Johannes (2017): Werthers verbriefte Liebe. In: Arcadia, Vol. 52, No. 1: pp. 116-140

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The article re-reads Werther's legendary love with Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy. It discovers a constitutive dimension of address and (postal) transfer that not only shapes Werther's love, but also connects it to the often neglected form of the epistolary novel. Werther's love is not tragic, and it is not all about Lotte - it is postal. Writing and loving share the constitutive dimension of addressing 'the other': distance does not indicate love's failure;it turns out to be its productive principle. Werther's love is thus not a 'warning example,' not the moral message of a tale - it exhibits and affirms the way modern love works. Anticipating psychoanalytic insight, love does not take place between two specific human beings, but circulates in a complex system of shifting addressees. The readers become involved in this postal system: the epistolary novel also addresses this love to us. Will we really 'not be able to withhold [our] admiration and love' as the editor tells us at the very beginning of Werther's story? However - we seem to be the perfect match - as philo-logists...

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