Recent research shows that we millennials aren’t doing much of anything, or anyone, these days. But in a shocking twist of events, a twentysomething in East Williamsburg went and translated a whole book! He didn’t stop there, either. Arden Rogow-Bales took Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther—which is a series of angsty letters by a twentysomething living in 1774, originally written in German—and turned the book’s protagonist into a modern-day pen pal.
Now, you can subscribe to a mailing list to receive those letters as though they were being written to you, Werther’s BFF, with Rogow-Bales project What Werther Went Through. Besides providing access to some seriously vintage angst, this Lousy Millennial’s little social experiment is setting out to prove that twentysomethings have always been full of feels (and were probably also afraid of spiders in 1774).
The goal, according to Arden’s blog, is to see “whether, with a fresh translation and a few technological tricks, I can create a version of Werther that hits as hard today as the original did two hundred and forty years ago.” That means things like Werther using emoticons to tell you how he feels. Also, Werther calling his aunt a “frigid bitch” in his first e-mail (which subscribers received last Sunday). Hey, seems like a pretty typical millennial to me.
For reference, Goethe is the guy who wrote that 21-hour long tragedy Faust. And it’s worth mentioning that this experiment is really gunning for authenticity, what with making sure that each letter goes out on the day it was ‘actually written’ back in the 1700s.
You can subscribe here to receive the ‘letters’ for the full effect, but you can also keep up with them on Rogow-Bales’ blog, where they’ll be posted on the same days they’re sent out to the listserv. The original letters weren’t written daily, so unless you’ve read Goethe’s book there’s no telling exactly when you’ll receive an e-mail from your friend Werther, telling you about all the girls he’s crushing on/sleeping with/not texting back.