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The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
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The Blue Flower (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Penelope Fitzgerald

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1,215266,563 (3.55)142
Member:sollocks
Title:The Blue Flower
Authors:Penelope Fitzgerald
Info:Mariner Books (1997), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library, Books Marly has read
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Tags:Fiction, Booker Prize, English Literature, England

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The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald (1995)

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A tightly written and often humorous story about Novalis. However, the story of his infatuation with a 12-year old girl and his engagement to her at the age of 15 left me feeling very ambivalent. ( )
  sianpr | Apr 11, 2014 |
Fitzgerald's last novel, and, quite frankly, the praise it receives often seems to be more a result of her dying after writing it than the novel itself. Often described as 'strange,' 'magical,' and 'short,' The Blue Flower is certainly concise. But strange? It's a reasonable faithful depiction of Novalis's falling in love with a 12 year old. Yes, *that's* strange, but that doesn't mean the novel is. Magical? In the sense that psychotic episodes might be enchanting, maybe.

None of which is to take away from the book's great merits: beautifully written, hysterically funny, and particularly enjoyable for trainspotting purposes (*love* the catty Schlegels and the jokes at Fichte's expense).

But my suspicion, and hope, is that Penelope is floating above us somewhere laughing at the human being's ability to mistake irony for passion. Here we have a novel in which a silly but highly intelligent young man falls in love with a 12 year old girl who is, precisely, a 12 year old girl. He does not fall in love with the 27 year old woman that the reader really wants him to fall in love with. His brother proceeds to also fall in love with the (now) 13 year old girl instead of the (now) 28 year old woman he should fall in love with. This is the background for one of the most famous symbols in romantic literature, the blue flower: what is it? Why on earth would you want it?

Anyway, the moral of this story is i) that all men are remarkably silly. They're either romantics who get rewarded for blathering on at great length about nothing, pietists who will put their family through hell, or morons in other less obvious way. And ii) that if you're a sensible, intelligent woman who thinks she's found a sensible, intelligent man, give it a year and he'll reveal himself to be remarkably silly by falling in love with a child or thinking that, because you're a little nervous around him, you hate him (he will then run away from you). Also, you will all die of consumption.

Rest in peace Ms. Fitzgerald. May your ghost encourage others to write beautifully. ( )
2 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
This book is an easy read. I finished it in a day in two or three sessions. Perhaps it should be read more slowly or reread. It is beautifully written. The evocation of the time and place is very powerful. The characters are all complicated and interesting. The plot is simple. The story is more about the various relationships than what actually happens.
I found this an unusual book and I loved learning about the lives of people from such a different world. I must read it again as I am convinced there are hidden depths to this work. ( )
1 vote rosiezbanks | Dec 28, 2013 |
Despite the lovely prose, I couldn't really connect to the main characters - especially Sophie. Fitzgerald doesn't convey what this girl had that made Fritz, then Erasmus, and finally the Father become so smitten. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
This is a touching and amusing story that manages also to say a great deal about pain and the human race and how we came to be the way we are today. Fritz, later Novalis, believes that the world (and everyone in it, including his young love,Sophie) is as we perceive it to be (or at least that was my understanding of his philosophy) and that belief goes a long ways towards making his life bearable. ( )
  PatsyMurray | May 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Penelope Fitzgerald's writing is rife with odd, almost impossible contradictions: She is a minimalist who celebrates an abundance of details, a miniaturist who can unravel the mysteries of human character with five words of dialogue. In the closely observed realm of her slim, 1995 novel titled The Blue Flower, readers are plunged so suddenly, intimately and irrevocably into the physical and intellectual world of 18th-century Germany – which produced, among others, Goethe and Hegel – the 21st century becomes merely a faintly remembered acquaintance.....Sensual feast that it is, however, this book brings the reader back again and again to the growing, transmogrifying child – the blue flower – at its heart....

 
Penelope Fitzgerald uses fiction to examine an 18th-century German poet and his doomed love for a 12-year-old ...It is hard to know where to begin to praise the book. First off, I can think of no better introduction to the Romantic era: its intellectual exaltation, its political ferment, its brilliant amateur self-scrutiny, its propensity for intense friendships and sibling relationships, its uncertain morals, its rumors and reputations and meetings, its innocence and its refusal of limits. Also, ''The Blue Flower'' is a wholly convincing account of that very difficult subject, genius.
 
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'Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history.'
F. von Hardenberg, later Novalis, Fragments und Studien, 1799 - 1800
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Jacob Dietmahler was not such a fool that he could not see that they had arrived at his friend's house on the washday.
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This historical novel based on 18th century Germany that tells of Novalis, a poet, and his inspiration, a teenage girl named Sophie.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395859972, Paperback)

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote her first novel 20 years ago, at the age of 59. Since then, she's written eight more, three of which have been short-listed for England's prestigious Booker Prize, and one of which, Offshore, won. Now she's back with her tenth and best book so far, The Blue Flower. This is the story of Friedrich von Hardenberg--Fritz, to his intimates--a young man of the late 18th century who is destined to become one of Germany's great romantic poets. In just over 200 pages, Fitzgerald creates a complete world of family, friends and lovers, but also an exhilarating evocation of the romantic era in all its political turmoil, intellectual voracity, and moral ambiguity. A profound exploration of genius, The Blue Flower is also a charming, wry, and witty look at domestic life. Fritz's family--his eccentric father and high-strung mother; his loving sister, Sidonie; and brothers Erasmus, Karl, and the preternaturally intelligent baby of the family, referred to always as the Bernhard--are limned in deft, sure strokes, and it is in his interactions with them that the ephemeral quality of genius becomes most tangible. Even his unlikely love affair with young Sophie von Kühn makes perfect sense as Penelope Fitzgerald imagines it.

The Blue Flower is a magical book--funny, sad, and deeply moving. In Fritz Fitzgerald has discovered a perfect character through whom to explore the meaning of love, poetry, life, and loss. In The Blue Flower readers will find a work of fine prose, fierce intelligence, and perceptive characterization.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Set in Germany at the end of the 18th century, this book tells the story of the brilliant young Fritz von Hardenberg, later to become the great romantic philosopher & poet. He announces his engagement to a 12 year old girl, to his family's consternation.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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