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Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (1894)

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English (13)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Although this was a sad story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well developed and the plot was such that it held your interest to the very end. The novel was also an excellent look at the political and social times of the late 19th century Germany. Effi's transgression was more of a sin against the social code as we are never told the depth of the affair. It was interesting to learn about the different gender roles and a look at a young woman married to a man twice her age. I look forward to reading more of Theodor Fontane's works. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
Enjoyed the build up of foreboding in this. A Germanic version of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina (well the tale of a fallen woman at least) I enjoyed the political and social picture painted by Fontane and the style. It was an interesting read. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
I loved this book. I really liked the main character and thought she was drawn very well. In fact, all the characters were well realised, very human and believable. I liked Effi's youth and self assurance that was actually naivety, and thought the description of her change following the life changing event, that is really only ever hinted at throughout the book, no need for passionate or salacious details, was very well executed. The whole book models the politesse of 19th century society, where nothing is discussed in the open, but everyone understands what is going on under the surface. Effi starts out a child, confident that her bizarre marriage to her mother's former beau is something she is in control of. The realities of separation from her family and childhood home change her outlook on life, and the lifestyle her much older husband follows does not sit well with her effervescent character. Small wonder that her head is turned. The events that follow are tragic, and all involved are aware of the tragedy but are bound by the inevitability of the actions society demands of them. Effi changes completely, resigned to her fate. She reminds me in some ways of Natasha Rostova in War and Peace. Of the two other 19th century 'adultery novels' I've read (Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary), this one was the most sympathetic. I felt for all of the characters in each of their situations. I think this is because none of them is self-centred or arrogant in the ways Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary are. All of them are flawed, but each cares about the effects their flaws have on those closest to them. Well worth reading. ( )
  missizicks | Dec 12, 2015 |
This is the story of young girl, really still playing with girlfriends, who is married off to an old man. In fact the fellow used to date the girls mother. The young girl is full of life and loves to be outdoors and involved in adventurous activities. She soon is married off, moves far away to an area where she doesn’t fit in and is lonely as she discovers herself to be married to a workaholic. Her only friends and companions is the Newfoundland dog Rollo and her servant who she found on a bench in the cemetery in a fit of melancholy. This is a story that is compared to Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. I liked this one best. Anna is a good story but a little long and tedious at times. Emma (Madame Bovary) was not likeable. This story is enjoyable, reads quickly and you can’t help but like Effie. A sad story.

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1 vote Kristelh | Mar 11, 2015 |
Honestly, I read this because Thomas Mann said it was great. Not good, great. I hesitate to disagree with him, so I'm willing to consider translation issues as the problem. Maybe ejaculations like 'speaking of which' and 'by the way' and 'meanwhile' and so on are/were natural in late nineteenth century German? Maybe the dialogue is less stilted in its native tongue? Maybe the symbolism is less heavy handed than the translation makes it appear?
Certainly the endless jackbooting of 'society' would have made more sense at the time the book was written; but it's hard for me to feel much anger at 'society' today. We could probably do with a bit more moral straitjacketing, let's be honest, and a little less you-are-a-unique-and-special-snowflake. You're not. Fontane is obviously a smart enough man not to fall for it too hard, which makes the book worthwhile. But compared to Madame Bovary... well, it's a bit clumsy, and I'd rather re-read Flaubert than re-read this. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (86 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Theodor Fontaneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coler, ChristfriedAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geiger, HannsludwigEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rorrison, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schafarschik, WalterAnmerkungensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wölfel, KurtNachwortsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the front of Hohen-Cremmen, country seat of the von Briest family since the time of Elector Georg Wilhelm, bright sunshine fell on the midday silence in the village street, while on the side facing the park and gardens a wing built on at right angles cast its broad shadow first on a while and green flagstone path, then out over a large roundel of flowers with a sundial at its centre and a border of canna lilies and rhubarb round the edge.
Outside the manor house in Hohen-Cremmen, where the Briests had lived since the days when Georg Wilhelm had been elector of Brandenburg, the village street, quiet at midday, lay in bright sunshine, whilst the park and garden side a wing built on at right angles threw a long shadow of white and green flagstones and then across a large, circular flowerbed with a sundial in the middle and Canna indica and giant rhubarb planted round the edge. (Oxford World's Classics edition)
Of the many novelists writing in nineteenth -century Germany, Theodor Fontane is not only, by common consent, the greatest, but also the most cosmopolitan. (Introduction)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140447660, Paperback)

In 1919 Thomas Mann hailed Effi Briest (1895) as one of "the six most significant novels ever written." Set in Bismarck's Germany, Fontane's luminous tale of a socially suitable but emotionally disastrous match between the enchanting seventeen-year-old Effi and an austere, workaholic civil servant twice her age, is at once touching and unsettling. Fontane's taut, ironic narrative depicts a world where sexuality and the enjoyment of life are stifled by narrow-mindedness and circumstance. Considered by many to be the pinnacle of the nineteenth-century German novel, Effi Briest is a tale of adultery that ranks with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina and brilliantly demonstrates the truth of the author's comment and "women's stories are generally far more interesting."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:06 -0400)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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