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Theodor Fontane

Theodor Fontane (December 30, 1819 - September 20, 1898) was a German novelist and poet.

Fontane was born in Neuruppin. 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 through England, and settling back in Berlin devoted himself from 1849 to literature. He made repeated journeys to England and was particularly interested in old English ballads.

Like most of his contemporaries, Fontane at first sought inspiration for his poetry in the heroes of other countries. His Gedichte (1851) and his ballads Männer und Helden (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, notably L'Adultera (1882) and Effi Briest (1894). In Der Stechlin (1899) Fontane adapted the realistic methods and social criticism of contemporary French fiction to the conditions of Prussian life.

Table of contents
1 Essays and histories
2 Poems
3 Weblinks

Essays and histories

His books about England include Ein Sommer in London (1854); Aus England, Studien und Briefe (1860) and Jenseit des Tweed, Bilder und 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 1866 (1869). He proceeded to the theatre of war in 1870, and, being taken. prisoner at Vaucouleurs, remained three months in captivity. His experiences are given 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).