September 15th, 2019
___ Weltschmerz is a deep, weighting feeling of melancholy as one reflects on the world condition.
Pronounced [VELT-shmerts] it combines the German words “welt” meaning “world,” and “schmerz” meaning “pain.” Weltschmerz literally means “world-pain.”
Dictionary.com defines weltschmerz as “sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life; sentimental pessimism.”
Webster’s New World College dictionary defines it as “sentimental pessimism or melancholy over the state of the world.”
American Heritage dictionary defines it as “Sadness over the evils of the world, especially as an expression of romantic pessimism.”
All three definitions are slightly distinct, yet have in common that the sorrow is related to one’s pessimism or feeling of hopelessness over the world condition or the evils of the world.
A Wikipedia.com article cites that weltschmerz was coined by early 19th century German author Jean Paul Richter, and that Herr Richter uses it to denote “the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind.”
Weltschmerz represents a passion regarding the world and the human condition, and a resulting pain. Even phonetically, the sound when saying “Weltscherz” brings the meaning across.
Have you read a story or a poem about someone wrought with Weltschmerz?
Do you know someone who is?
This Jacquée T. Writer in Residence featured Word is brought to you by the Jayhawk Corner Café in downtown Topeka.
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