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Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich [Hardcover]

Gordon A. Craig

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Book Description

November 4, 1999 0195128370 978-0195128376 First Edition
First published in Germany to popular and critical acclaim, this is a unique portrait of the life and work of Theodor Fontane, the greatest German novelist of his age, as well as a major poet and theater critic and much loved travel writer. Gordon A. Craig, one of the foremost scholars of German history, interpolates a cohesive historical biography of Fontane with his own reflections on the art, culture, and politics of Fontane's world.

The ideas and impressions of Fontane and Craig echo one another throughout the book in compelling and fascinating ways. Fontane's travel accounts of Scotland and Prussia are enriched by Craig's discussion of Germany's increasingly national vision of itself and the world at the time of unification. Similarly, Craig's mastery of German military history dovetails remarkably well with Fontane's reportage on Germany's wars with Denmark, Austria, and France. Interesting are Fontane's ruminations over his great contemporary Otto von Bismarck, whom he revered as founder of the Reich but whose policies he feared would in the end be self-defeating.

Although Fontane's Wanderings through the Mark Brandenburg and his novels are more widely read in Germany today than they were in his own time, and although his masterpiece Effi Briest was the basis for a famous Fassbinder film, Fontane remains little known in the English-speaking world. Theodor Fontane is the ideal introduction to this major European writer, a master of social analysis and one of the great letter writers of his age.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for the German edition: "The book that gave me most pleasure--long-term pleasure--right through the summer and autumn was Gordon A. Craig's [Theodor Fontane]." --Gabriele Annan in The Times Literary Supplement

"The author, originally from Scotland, belongs to the most highly regarded group of scholars and artists in Germany, the Order Pour le Mérite, which he owes not only to his comprehensive historical works, which have made him famous as a scholar, but equally to the slender essays and miniatures that German readers have learned to know and treasure in books like The End of Prussia and The Politics of the Unpolitical. The book on Fontane should be read in the same way as they. The chapters are independent essays. One can read them with pleasure one after another or--as in the case of a good wine of which one brings a bottle from the cellar from time to time--they can be read at intervals, with the pauses in between that make it possible to enjoy an excellent thing for a good while." --Die Woche

"As lively in its narrative style as it is instructive in its interpretation, this is the best Fontane book for an audience that, with all of its desire for knowledge, does not want to be bored, and it is written, in addition, in the Fontane conversational style." --Welt am Sonntag

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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