A Year of Revolutions: Fanny Lewald's Recollections of 1848

A Year of Revolutions: Fanny Lewald's Recollections of 1848

A Year of Revolutions: Fanny Lewald's Recollections of 1848

A Year of Revolutions: Fanny Lewald's Recollections of 1848

Synopsis

Lewald, the best-selling German woman writer in the 19th century, proved a keen and perceptive observer of the social, artistic and political life of her times, as these recollections of the revolutions in Germany and France demonstrate.

Excerpt

Fanny Lewald was born on March 24,1811, in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), East Prussia, to the wine merchant David Markus (later changed to Lewald) and his wife, Zipporah Assing Markus. Fanny was the eldest of their eight surviving children. Both parents came from old established Jewish families, her mother's less assimilated than her father's secularly inclined one. Fanny was a much-loved and wanted child and received the full attention of her parents until the next child, her brother Otto, was born. But she always remained, as her father said, "my beloved oldest child," and her gender did not affect her parents' love for her, although, in the patriarchal climate of Wilhelmine Germany, their expectations for her were naturally quite different from those for their sons.

The Markus-Lewald household was strictly run and well administered, though in a manner that was both labor intensive and labor wasteful. This was typical of most large Prussian households of the day, as Fanny points out clearly in her autobiography (Education 85-87). Her father expected absolute obedience and her mother, a loving and submissive wife, was happy to obey. In return, their marriage was a devoted one; Fanny never heard a cross word between her father and mother, David always backed up his wife in her dealings with the children, even when it meant going against his own rational opinion. He was a despot, but a benevolent one, totally devoted to his family and wanting only what was best for it. We might find some of his measures in dealing with his children unnecessarily harsh, but for a father of his generation, he was unusual in the attention he gave his children, who loved and respected him deeply. He stands in sharp contrast to his peers in Georgian and Victorian society, who delegated the care of their children to nannies, never played or conversed with . . .

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