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

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Goethe’s play Stella (1776) caused so much turmoil in Germany that it was retracted from the stage.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.

Susan E. Gustafson is the Karl F. and Bertha A. Fuchs Professor of German Studies at the University of Rochester. Her research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German literature, women’s studies, gender studies, and translation. Her scholarship has focused on non-traditional representations of love and families including same-sex relationships, adoptive families, and all families coming together through love and not determined by social mandates.

Kristina Becker Malett is Assistant Professor of Instruction at the University of Rochester. She received her master’s in Education and American Studies at the Free University and Humboldt University Berlin. She taught for several years in the Berlin school system. She also taught German-language courses at the Eastman School of Music 2008–2017 and has been teaching German in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Rochester since 2010.