Elective Affinities

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Translated by H.M. Waidson

ISBN: 9781847494528

220 pages

RRP: £7.99

Baron Eduard and his second wife Charlotte enjoy a quiet, humdrum existence in their opulent castle, but when he invites his friend the Captain and she invites her niece Ottilie to stay with them, their lives are turned inside out as both hosts begin to feel attracted to their guests. Using one of the chemistry theories of the time as a metaphor throughout the novel, Goethe juxtaposes social interactions with scientific principles, while illustrating the typically Romantic concern of the individual coming to terms with society.

Controversial when first published and still much critically debated today, Goethe’s Elective Affinities is an early model for the modern novel.


  • The boldest and deepest novel of adultery produced by the moral culture of the West.

    Thomas Mann

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe (1749–1832) was one of the greatest German writers and the leader of the Weimar Classicism movement. Most famous for his seminal poetic drama, Faust, and his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe was also a poet, theologian, philosopher and scientist – one of the world’s last great polymaths.