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Theodor Fontane - book author

Theodor Fontane, novelist, critic, poet, and travel writer, was one of the most celebrated nineteenth-century German men of letters. He was born into a French Huguenot family in the Prussian town of Neuruppin, where his father owned a small pharmacy. His father’s gambling debts forced the family to move repeatedly, and eventually his temperamentally mismatched parents separated. Though Fontane showed early interest in history and literature—jotting down stories in his school notebooks—he could not afford to attend university; instead he apprenticed as a pharmacist and eventually settled in Berlin. There he joined the influential literary society Tunnel über der Spree, which included among its members Theodor Storm and Gottfried Keller, and turned to writing. In 1850 Fontane’s first published books, two volumes of ballads, appeared; they would prove to be his most successful books during his lifetime. He spent the next four decades working as a critic, journalist, and war correspondent while producing some fifty works of history, travel narrative, and fiction. His early novels, the first of which was published in 1878, when Fontane was nearly sixty, concerned recent historical events. It was not until the late 1880s that he turned to his great novels of modern society, remarkable for their psychological insight: Trials and Tribulations (1888), Irretrievable (1891), Frau Jenny Treibel (1892), and Effi Briest (1895). During his last years, Fontane returned to writing poetry, and, while recovering from a severe illness, wrote an autobiographical novel that would prove to be a late commercial success. He is buried in the French section of the Friedhof II cemetery in Berlin.

Theodor Fontane is the author of books: Effi Briest, Irrungen, Wirrungen, Frau Jenny Treibel, The Stechlin, Unterm Birnbaum, Irretrievable, Mathilde Möhring, Grete Minde: nach einer altmärkischen Chronik, Stine, L'Adultera

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Telling the tragic tale of a socially advantageous but emotionally ruinous match, Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest is translated from the German by Hugh Rorrison with an introduction by Helen Chambers in Penguin Classics.

Unworldly young Effi Briest is married off to Baron von Innstetten, an austere and ambitious civil servant twice her age, who has little time for his new wife. Isolated and bored, Effi finds comfort and distraction in a brief liaison with Major Crampas, a married man with a dangerous reputation. But years later, when Effi has almost forgotten her affair, the secret returns to haunt her - with fatal consequences. In taut, ironic prose Fontane depicts a world where sexuality and the will to enjoy life are stifled by vain pretences of civilization, and the obligations of circumstance. Considered to be his greatest novel, this is a humane, unsentimental portrait of a young woman torn between her duties as a wife and mother and the instincts of her heart.

Hugh Rorrison's clear, modern translation is accompanied by an introduction by Helen Chambers, which compares Effi with other literary heroines such as Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina.

Theodor Fontane (1819-98) was a German novelist and potitical reporter. Along with Effi Briest, Fontane is remembered for Frau Jenny Treibel (1892), an ironic criticism of middle-class hypocrisy and small-mindedness.

If you enjoyed Effi Briest you may like Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, also available in Penguin Classics.

'I have been haunted by it ... as I am by those novels that seem to do more than they say, to induce strong emotions that can't quite be accounted for'
Hermione Lee, Sunday Times
Die Geschichte spielt im Berlin der 1870er Jahre. Die hübsche und pflichtbewusste Lene wohnt mit ihrer alten Pflegemutter Nimptsch in einem kleinen Häuschen. Bei einer Bootspartie lernt sie den gesellschaftlich gewandten und unterhaltsamen Baron Botho von Rienäcker kennen. Im Laufe des Sommers kommen sich die beiden näher. Doch der große Standesunterschied erweist sich als Hindernis für ihre Liebe. - Summary by Wikipedia
In seinem satirisch-humorvollen Gesellschaftsroman "Frau ]enny Treibel", der 1892 veröffentlicht wurde, entlarvt Fontane die Hauptfiguren in ihren egoistischen Intrigen deutlich genug als sentimental, dünkelhaft oder bieder-pragmatisch. Dennoch kann man schmunzelnd Sympathie gegenüber den Gestalten entwickeln, die zu so erfrischenden Schlüssen kommen wie: »Geld ist Unsinn, Wissenschaft ist Unsinn, alles ist Unsinn. Professor auch«. Wer es bestreite, sei ein Ochse.

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Theodor Fontane (1819-98), widely regarded as Germany's most significant novelist between Goethe and Thomas Mann, pioneered the German novel of manners and upper-class society, following a trend in European fiction of the period. The Stechlin is Fontane's last book and his political testament. Like Effi Briest, his great work on the place of women in Bismarck's empire, it is set at the apex of the Wilhelmine era, both in Berlin and on the estate of a Prussian Junker on the shores of Lake Stechlin. It is a significant historical and cultural document, probably the finest chronicle of the lifestyle of the German upper classes in the late nineteenth century; Fontane portrays the best in the life and ways of the passing Prussian aristocracy, while describing his hopes for the future of Germany and its nobility, which were never to be fully realized. Although this novel has been translated into many languages, it has never before been available in English; this edition thus fills an important gap in the significant works of European literature accessible to English readers.
Fontane verfasste die Novelle im Zeitraum von 1883 bis April 1885. Als Kriminalgeschichte galt sie in der Literaturwissenschaft lange Zeit eher als weniger gelungenes Nebenwerk Fontanes. Obwohl der Leser bereits von Beginn an die Täter und ihre Motive kennt, wird durch Einbindung psychologischer Aspekte und die genaue Schilderung des Dorfmilieus, in dem ein Verbrechen begangen wird, der Spannungsbogen aufrechterhalten und eine düstere Grundstimmung erzeugt.

Mit der Geschichte eines von einem Ehepaar gemeinsam begangenen Raubmordes verarbeitet Fontane Kindheitserinnerungen – sein Vater hatte als Mitglied der Bürgergarde in Swinemünde mit ähnlichen Fällen zu tun. Eine Jahre zurückliegende Information seiner Schwester Elise über einen erschlagenen französischen Soldaten, der in Dreetz in Brandenburg vergraben worden war, weckte ebenfalls Fontanes Interesse und floss in die Handlung ein. Das Urbild des Tatortes war der Gasthof Zum alten Fritz in Letschin.

Die Novelle erschien, beginnend im August 1885, zunächst als Vorabdruck in Fortsetzungen in der Zeitschrift Die Gartenlaube. Als Buchausgabe wurde sie erstmals im November 1885 beim Verlag Müller-Grote, Berlin, als Band 23 der Groteschen Sammlung von Werken zeitgenössischer Schriftsteller publiziert. Die Erstauflage betrug 1.500 Exemplare. Außer Unterm Birnbaum schrieb Fontane noch drei weitere Geschichten, die von Verbrechen und Mord handeln: Grete Minde (1879), Ellernklipp (1881) und Quitt (1890).
Opposites attract, and Helmut Holk and Christine Arne, the appealing married couple at the center of this engrossing book by one of Germany’s greatest novelists, could not be less alike. Christine is a serious soul from a devout background. She is brooding and beautiful and devoted to her husband and their two children. Helmut is lighthearted and pleasure-loving and largely content to defer to his wife’s deeper feelings and better wisdom. They live in a beautiful large house overlooking the sea, which they built themselves, and have been happily married for twenty-three years—only of late a certain tension has crept into their dealings with each other. Little jokes, casual endearments, long-meditated plans: they all hit a raw nerve.

How a couple can slowly drift apart, until one day they find themselves in a situation which is nothing they ever wished for but from which they cannot go back, is at the heart of this timeless story of everyday life. Theodor Fontane’s great gift is to tell the story effectively in his characters’ own words, listening to how they talk and fail to talk to each other, watching them turn away from their own true feelings as much as from each other. Irretrievable is a nuanced, affectionate, enormously sophisticated, and profoundly humane reckoning with the blindness of love.
Dieser Roman Theodor Fontanes beschreibt eine junge Frau, die die Stadt Tangermünde anzündet, wodurch viele Menschen ums Leben kommen.
Die junge Ernestine Rehbein, genannt Stine, lebt in einfachen kleinbürgerlichen Verhältnissen. Gemeinsam mit ihrer verwitweten Schwester Pauline, die zwei Kinder aus zwei verschiedenen Ehen hat, lebt sie ein Stockwerk über der Wohnung ihrer Schwester in einem Wohnhaus in der Invalidenstraße 98e in Berlin. Bei einem abendlichen Diner, mit dem Pauline in kleiner Gesellschaft den Pflichten ihrer Liaison mit dem alten Grafen Haldern nachkommt, lernt Stine den kränklichen jungen Grafen Waldemar Haldern kennen. Dieser verliebt sich in Stine und fängt an um sie zu werben, indem er beginnt sie zu besuchen. Da diese Verbindung ihrer Schwester suspekt wird, rät sie Stine zur Besonnenheit, um nicht ins Gerede zu kommen ein außereheliches Verhältnis zum Grafen zu haben...(Amazon)
Theodor Fontane: Romane und Erzählungen in acht Bänden. Herausgegeben von Peter Goldammer, Gotthard Erler, Anita Golz und Jürgen Jahn, 2. Auflage, Berlin und Weimar: Aufbau, 1973. Entstanden 1879/80. Erstdruck in: Nord und Süd (Berlin), Heft 39 und 40, 1880.