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Theodor Fontane
Born 30 December 1819(1819-12-30)
Neuruppin, Germany
Died 20 September 1898 (aged 78)
Berlin

Theodor Fontane (German pronunciation: [ˈtʰeodoɐ̯ fɔnˈtaːnə]; 30 December 1819 – 20 September 1898) was a German novelist and poet, regarded by many to be the most important 19th-century German-language realist writer.

Contents

Youth

Fontane was born in Neuruppin into a Huguenot family. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to an apothecary, his father's profession, subsequently becoming an apothecary himself, and in 1839, at the age of 20, wrote his first work (Heinrichs IV. erste Liebe, now lost). His further education was in Leipzig where he came into contact with the progressives of the Vormärz. Fontane's first published work, the novella Geschwisterliebe (or "Sibling Love"), appeared in the Berlin Figaro in December 1839.

His biographer Gordon A. Craig in Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich (Oxford University Press, 1999) observes that this work gave few indications of his promise as a gifted writer: "Although the theme of incest, which was to occupy Fontane on later occasions, is touched upon here, the mawkishness of the tale... is equaled by the lameness of its plot and the inertness of the style in which it is told, and [the characters] Clärchen and her brother are both so colorless that no one could have guessed that their creator had a future as a writer."

His first job as apothecary was in Dresden after which he returned to his father's shop, now in the provincial town of Letschin in the Oderbruch region. Fleeing the provincial atmosphere there, Fontane published articles in the Leipzig newspaper Die Eisenbahn and translated Shakespeare. In 1843, he joined a literary club called Tunnel über der Spree (i.e. Tunnel over the river Spree) in Berlin where he came into contact with many of the most renowned German writers such as Theodor Storm, Joseph von Eichendorff and Gottfried Keller.

Newspaper writer and critic

"Modern Book Printing" from the Walk of Ideas in Berlin, Germany - built in 2006 to commemorate Johannes Gutenberg's invention, c. 1445, of movable printing type.

In 1844 Fontane enrolled in the Prussian army and set out on the first of numerous journeys to England which fostered his interest in Old English ballads, a form he began to imitate then. At that time he became engaged to his future wife, Emilie Rouanet-Kummer, whom he had first met when still at school.

He briefly participated in the revolutionary events of 1848. In 1849 he quit his job as an apothecary and became a full-time journalist and writer. In order to support his family he took a job as a writer for the Prussian intelligence agency Zentralstelle für Presseangelegenheiten which was meant to influence the press towards a German national cause.

Again he specialised in British affairs, and the agency sent him as correspondent to London for a couple of years where he was later joined by his wife and two sons. While still in London he quit his government job and, on his return to Berlin, became editor of the conservative Kreuzzeitung.

London

His books about Britain include Ein Sommer in London (1854); Aus England, Studien und Briefe (1860) and Jenseits des Tweed, Bilder und Briefe aus Schottland (1860). At the period, and following the fashion of Walter Scott, traditional British stories were still en vogue on the continent. His Gedichte (1851) and ballads Männer und Helden (1860) tell of Britain's glories in days gone by.

Back in Germany, Fontane became particularly interested in the Mark Brandenburg region. He was especially proud of its past achievements and delighted in the growth of its capital city, Berlin. His fascination with the countryside surrounding Berlin may be seen in his delightfully picturesque Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (1862-1882, 5 vols.) in which he successfully transposed his former fascination with British historical matters to his native soil.

Prussian War

In 1870, he quit his job at the Kreuzzeitung and became drama critic for the liberal Vossische Zeitung, a job he kept until retirement. He had already written about Prussia's war against Denmark in Der schleswig-holsteinische Krieg im Jahre 1864 (1866) and the Austro-Prussian War in Der deutsche Krieg von 1866 (1869). He proceeded to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, and, being taken prisoner at Vaucouleurs, he remained in French captivity for three months. His experiences there are set down in Kriegsgefangen Erlebtes 1870 (1871); subsequently he published his observations on the campaign in Der Krieg gegen Frankreich 1870-71 (1874-1876).

Later years

At the ripe age of 57 Fontane finally took to what he would be remembered for, the novel. His fine historical romance Vor dem Sturm (1878) was followed by a series of novels of modern life, notably L'Adultera (1882), a book about adultery which was considered so risqué that it took Fontane two years to find a publisher.

In his novels Frau Jenny Treibel, Irrungen, Wirrungen, and Effi Briest (1894), he found his very own tone, yielding insights into the lives of the nobility as well as the "common man"; his achievement there was later described as poetic realism. In Der Stechlin (1899), his last finished novel, Fontane adapted the realistic methods and social criticism of contemporary French fiction to the conditions of Prussian life.

Works

  • Geschwisterliebe, 1839
  • Zwei Post-Stationen, 1845
  • James Monmouth, 1854
  • Tuch und Locke, 1854
  • Goldene Hochzeit, 1854
  • Vor dem Sturm, 1878 (Full text, German)
  • Grete Minde, 1880
  • Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg, 1880
  • Elternklipp, 1881
  • L'Adultera, 1882
  • Schach von Wuthenow, 1882
  • Graf Petöfy, 1884
  • Unterm Birnbaum, 1885
  • Cécile, 1887
  • Irrungen, Wirrungen, 1888
  • Stine, 1890
  • Quitt, 1891
  • Unwiederbringlich, 1891
  • Frau Jenny Treibel, 1892
  • Meine Kinderjahre, 1894
  • Effi Briest, 1896
  • Die Poggenpuhls, 1896
  • Der Stechlin, 1899
  • Mathilde Möhring, 1906

Poems

References

  • Craig, Gordon Theodor Fontane : Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich, New York : Oxford University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-19-512837-0.

See Thomas Mann's 1910 essay, "The Old Fontane," in Essays of Three Decades (Knopf, 1947). Very fine.

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THEODOR FONTANE (1819-1898), German poet and novelist, was born at Neu-Ruppin on the 30th of December 1819. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a chemist, and after qualifying as an apothecary, he found employment in Leipzig and Dresden. In 1844 he travelled in England, and settling in Berlin devoted himself from 1849 to literature. He made repeated journeys to England, interesting himself in old English ballads, and as the firstfruits of his tours published Ein Sommer in London (1854);(1854); Aus England, Studien and Briefe (1860) and Jenseit des Tweed, Bilder and Briefe aus Schottland (1860). Fontane was particularly attached to the Mark of Brandenburg, in which his home lay; he was proud of its past achievements, and delighted in the growth of the capital city, Berlin. The fascination which the country of his birth had for him may be seen in his delightfully picturesque Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (1862-1882, 4 vols.). He also described the wars of Prussia in Der schleswig-holsteinische Krieg im Jahre 1864 (1866) and Der deutsche Krieg von x866 (1869). He proceeded to the theatre of war in 1870, and, being taken prisoner at Vaucouleurs, remained three months in captivity. His experiences he narrates in Kriegsgefangen. Erlebtes 1870 (1871), and he published the result of his observations of the campaign in Der Krieg gegen Frankreich 1870-71 (1874-1876). Like most of his contemporaries, he at first sought inspiration for his poetry in the heroes of other countries. His Gedichte (1851) and ballads Manner and Heiden (1860) tell of England's glories in bygone days. Then the achievements of his own countrymen entered into rivalry, and these, as an ardent patriot, he immortalized in poem and narrative. It is, however, as a novelist that Fontane is best known. His fine historical romance Vor dem Sturm (1878) was followed by a series of novels of modern life: L'Adultera (1882); Schack von Wuthenow (1883); Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888); Stine (1890); Unwiederbringlich (1891); Efi Briest (1895); Der Stechlin (1899) in which with fine literary tact Fontane adapted the realistic methods and social criticism of contemporary French fiction to the conditions of Prussian life. He died on the 10th of September 1898 at Berlin.

Fontane's Gesammelte Romane and Erzahlungen were published in 12 vols. (1890-1891; 2nd ed., 1905). For his life see the autobiographical works Meine Kinderjahre (1894) and Von zwanzig bis dreissig (1898), also Briefe an seine Familie (1905); also F. Servaes, Theodor Fontane (1900).


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Simple English

Theodor Fontane
File:Kurzbio
Born 30 December 1819(1819-12-30)
Neuruppin
Died September 20, 1898 (aged 78)
Berlin

Theodor Fontane (IPA: [ˈtʰeodoɐ̯ fɔnˈtaːnə]; December 30, 1819September 20, 1898) was a German novelist and poet, regarded by many to be the most important 19th-century German-language realist writer.

Contents

Youth

Fontane was born in Neuruppin into a Huguenot family. At the age of sixteen he became apprentice in a phamacy and then a pharmacist himself (like his father).In 1839, at the age of 20, wrote his first work (Heinrichs IV. erste Liebe, now lost). His first published work, the novella Geschwisterliebe (or "Sibling Love"), appeared in the Berlin Figaro in December 1839.[1]

His first job as apothecary was in Dresden after which he returned to his father's shop, now in the provincial town of Letschin in the Oderbruch region. In this time Fontane published articles in the Leipzig newspaper Die Eisenbahn (railway) and translated Shakespeare. In 1843, he joined a literary club called Tunnel über der Spree (i.e. Tunnel over the river Spree) in Berlin where he came into contact with many of the most important German writers such as Theodor Storm, Joseph von Eichendorff and Gottfried Keller.

Newspaper writer and critic

File:Printing4 Walk of Ideas
"Modern Book Printing" from the Walk of Ideas in Berlin, Germany - built in 2006 to commemorate Johannes Gutenberg's invention, c. 1445, of movable printing type.

In 1844 Fontane enrolled in the Prussian army and set out on the first of many journeys to England. There he learned about old English ballads. Soon afterwards he wrote ballads himself. At that time he became engaged to his future wife, Emilie Rouanet-Kummer, whom he had first met when still at school.

He was - very short - enganged in the revolutionary events of the revolution of 1848. In 1849 he quit his job as an apothecary and became a full-time journalist and writer. In order to support his family he took a job as a writer for the Prussian intelligence agency Centralstelle für Preßangelegenheiten which was meant to influence the press towards a German national cause. Again he specialised in British affairs, and the agency sent him as correspondent to London for a couple of years. His wife and two sons followed him there. While still in London he quit his government job and, on his return to Berlin, became editor of the conservative Kreuzzeitung (newspaper).

London

His books about Britain include Ein Sommer in London (1854); Aus England, Studien und Briefe (1860) and Jenseits des Tweed, Bilder und Briefe aus Schottland (1860). At the period, and following the fashion of Walter Scott, traditional British stories were still en vogue on the continent. His Gedichte (1851) and ballads Männer und Helden (1860) tell of Britain's glories in days gone by.

Back in Germany, Fontane became particularly interested in the Mark Brandenburg region. He was especially proud of its past achievements and delighted in the growth of its capital city, Berlin. His fascination with the countryside surrounding Berlin may be seen in his delightfully picturesque Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (1862-1882, 5 vols.).

Prussian War

In 1870, he quit his job at the Kreuzzeitung and became theater critic for the liberal Vossische Zeitung (newspaper). This job he kept until retirement. He had already written about Prussia's war against Denmark and the Austro-Prussian War. Then he went to write about the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and was taken prisoner. He remained in French captivity for three months. His experiences there are set down in Kriegsgefangen Erlebtes 1870 (1871); subsequently he published his observations on the campaign in Der Krieg gegen Frankreich 1870-71 (1874-1876).

Later years

At the ripe age of 57 Fontane finally took to what he would be remembered for, the novel. His fine historical novel Vor dem Sturm (1878) was followed by a series of novels of modern life, notably L'Adultera (1882), a book about adultery which was considered so risqué that it took Fontane two years to find a publisher. In his novels Frau Jenny Treibel, Irrungen, Wirrungen, and Effi Briest (1894), he found his very own tone, he wrote about insights into the lives of the nobility as well as the "common man"; his achievement there was later described as poetic realism. In Der Stechlin (1899), his last finished novel, Fontane adapted the realistic methods and social criticism of contemporary French fiction to the conditions of Prussian life.

Works

  • Geschwisterliebe, 1839
  • Zwei Post-Stationen, 1845
  • James Monmouth, 1854
  • Tuch und Locke, 1854
  • Goldene Hochzeit, 1854
  • Vor dem Sturm, 1878
  • Grete Minde, 1880
  • Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg, 1880
  • Elternklipp, 1881
  • L'Adultera, 1882
  • Schach von Wuthenow, 1882
  • Graf Petöfy, 1884
  • Unterm Birnbaum, 1885
  • Cécile, 1887
  • Irrungen, Wirrungen, 1888
  • Stine, 1890
  • Quitt, 1891
  • Unwiederbringlich, 1891
  • Frau Jenny Treibel, 1892
  • Meine Kinderjahre, 1894
  • Effi Briest, 1896
  • Die Poggenpuhls, 1896
  • Der Stechlin, 1899
  • Mathilde Möhring, 1906

Poems

  • Archibald Douglas
  • Die Brück' am Tay
  • John Maynard
  • Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland
  • Aber es bleibt auf dem alten Fleck
  • Ausgang
  • Gorm Grymme

References

  1. His biographer Gordon A. Craig in Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich (Oxford University Press, 1999) observes that this work gave few indications of his promise as a gifted writer: "Although the theme of incest, which was to occupy Fontane on later occasions, is touched upon here, the mawkishness of the tale... is equaled by the lameness of its plot and the inertness of the style in which it is told, and [the characters] Clärchen and her brother are both so colorless that no one could have guessed that their creator had a future as a writer."
  • Craig, Gordon Theodor Fontane : Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich, New York : Oxford University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-19-512837-0.

See Thomas Mann's 1910 essay, "The Old Fontane," in Essays of Three Decades (Knopf, 1947). Very fine.

Other websites

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This article includes material adapted from (German) Fontane's biography


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