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«Stella: A Play for Lovers» (1776) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Edited By Kristina Becker and Susan Gustafson

Goethe’s play Stella (1776) caused so much turmoil in Germany that it was retracted from the stage. In England, it was portrayed as evidence of lesser German values because of its portrayal of a ménage à trois. This new translation provides an introduction exploring the reception of the play in Germany and England, scholarly interpretations of the play, and the portions that were left out in earlier translations. The introduction also outlines the major questions the play highlights: Why do the two women, Stella and Cecilia, ultimately accept the ménage à trois? Can they trust Fernando, who flirts with every woman he meets? Do women and men conceive of marriage and loving commitments differently? Do the women agree to the ménage à trois because it is the only way they can be together as friends or as lovers? In addition, this translation has an appendix that outlines all of the changes (over 100) that Goethe made in 1806 in order to get the play back on stage. A useful resource for students, teachers, and scholars alike, this translation sheds new light on Goethe’s classic play.

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We are dedicating this translation to the Susan B. Anthony Institute at the University of Rochester in acknowledgment of all of their support for women, families, and translations and research of importance to women’s studies and gender studies. We are also grateful for all of the assistance and support of the editors of the series, Gail Hart, Peter Meilaender, Kai Evers, and Celia Applegate and for the suggestions given to us by the anonymous peer reviewer. In addition, our heartfelt thanks goes to our families who have supported us so much throughout this process and who have given our work and life so much meaning. So many thanks and love to Gary, Xeni, and Kaia Gustafson and Shel and Ruthie Malett.

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