Theodor Fontane

Theodor Fontane (tā´ōdôr fôntä´nə), 1819–98, German writer. Although he is primarily important as a novelist, he did not begin to write fiction until he was almost 60 years old. Thereafter, during his last two decades, he produced almost a novel a year. Earlier he had written two volumes of poetry, Gedichte (1851) and Balladen (1861), as well as accounts of his travels and his experiences as a war correspondent and prisoner during the Franco-Prussian War. He was also a drama critic for many years. The first master of the realistic novel in Germany, he wrote 17 perceptive novels that revealed the state of contemporary Berlin society, delineating the characters of its inhabitants largely through dialogue and monologue. He was particularly adept at studies of troubled women. His novels include L'Adultera (1882, tr. The Woman Taken in Adultery, 1979), Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888, tr. Trials and Tribulations, 1917), Frau Jenny Treibel (1893, tr. 1968, 1976), and his masterpiece, Effi Briest (1895, tr. 1976). He also wrote short novels and the autobiographical Meine Kinderjahre (1894, tr. of extracts, My Childhood Days, 1913–15).

See studies by H. Garland (1980), A. Bance (1982), H. Chambers (1997), G. A. Craig (2000), and M. Doebeling, ed. (2000).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Theodor Fontane: Selected full-text books and articles

The German Novel: Studies By Roy Pascal University of Toronto Press, 1956
Librarian's tip: Chap. VII "Theodor Fontane, 1819-98"
Echoes in the Text: Musical Citation in German Narratives from Theodor Fontane to Martin Walser By Jean H. Leventhal Peter Lang, 1995
Librarian's tip: Chap. I "From the 'Master' to the Hurdy-Gurdy Man: Theodor Fontane's L'Adultera"
Literary Theory and Criticism Festschrift Presented to René Wellek in Honor of His Eightieth Birthday By Joseph P. Strelka Peter Lang, 1984
Librarian's tip: "On Stifter's and Fontane's Realism: Turmalin and Mathilde Mohring" begins on p. 767
German Men of Letters By Alex Natan Oswald Wolff, vol.1, 1961
Librarian's tip: "Theodor Fontane" begins on p. 215
Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature By Horatio Smith Columbia University Press, 1947
Librarian's tip: "Fontane, Theodor (1819-1898, German Novelist)" begins on p. 271
Philosophy and German Literature, 1700-1990 By Nicholas Saul Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Theodor Fontane begins on p. 141
Germany, a Companion to German Studies By Jethro Bithell Methuen, 1955 (5th edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Theodor Fontane begins on p. 282
Essays on Culture and Society in Modern Germany By David L. Gross; Charles E. McClelland; David B. King; Gordon A. Craig; Gary D. Stark; Vernon L. Lidtke; Leonard Krieger; Bede K. Lackner Texas A&M University Press, 1982
Librarian's tip: "Irony and Rage in the German Social Novel: Theodor Fontane and Heinrich Mann" begins on p. 98
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