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Effi Briest (1895)

de Theodor Fontane

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2,222317,197 (3.59)116
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Effi Briest, the classic German realist novel, follows a young woman through her life and marriage. She is an innocent when she is married to the social climbing Instetten, and longs for wordly things. When she is left alone by her husband, who is pursuing his political career, she succumbs to the flattery of another man. Her adultery has wide and tragic consequences on the rest of her life.

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Mostrando 1-5 de 31 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Pacing was a bit all over the place, and I never grew to care about the characters. ( )
  AerialObrien | Jan 29, 2024 |
This novel was... frustrating. At times brilliant, at times wanting, I have to concede that my appreciation of this story may have been stunted by my lack of knowledge of the greater timbre of literature during this time and place. As an English speaker raised in America, my experience with German literature (especially from the 19th century) has been small. I've always enjoyed 19th-century literature, so getting this off my wishlist this Christmas and tearing into it was exciting. It took a bit for how dense it can be, but I was happy to read it, and am a bit intimidated by writing a full review.

Effi Briest tells the story of our titular main character; 17 years old and immediately engaged to her mother's former beau, 22 years her senior. The bulk of the novel surprisingly follows Effi's first two years of marriage, which float on fairly innocuously beside the pesky affair, with the novel's famous "fallen woman" denouement only coming in at a staggering 3/4th of the way through.

Fontane's work has been noted for both its symbolism and realism, and Effi Briest absolutely delivers on these fronts. Many parts of this novel are breathtakingly alive and raw, and there are some other brilliant uses of play with the medium of the written word itself. For the former, I often think of Fontane's descriptions of youth in nature and the somber, quietly suffocating interior scenes. For the latter, I was shocked at the impact of the duel—written so sparsely, one cannot help holding their breath as they rake over and over on the words, lost as to why so little would be written.

My copy of the book is deeply marked up: Fontane's strength here is the potential of poetic richness and the aforementioned symbolism. One can spend ages at a passage, unearthing his intent and meditating on a time gone by that somehow feels like you can see it in the corner of your eye. So much could be said, from Rollo the dog's status as fido to the human-equivalent of Roswitha, from the ever-present and suffocating Prussian military presence around Effi in the form of places, people, and duties to the sacrificial runestones seen on her honeymoon. Sometimes it's a bit heavy-handed, but it made me stop and continually think as to what else I should be looking out for. I will have to similarly concede that the amount of Prussian military figures, place names, and social words were unfortunately impenetrable to me, but I don't doubt an entire book could fill analysis of their inclusion.

Tragically then, I found the root of this novel's weakness in its construction and forthrightness of message. Another reviewer noted how rushed the ending felt, and I am inclined to agree. Effi's... ending comes truly out of nowhere, and it begins and ends only 3 pages before the book's end. The novel suffers from the worst of pre-20th century stories' treatment of "moral ends," and as usual, lacks any gutsy reasoning for its decision. Despite my book's introduction noting that the message one should pull is the tragedy of strict social conditions, the ending felt... ambiguous. I could be a bit daft, I'm far from the strongest reader out there who reads heady lit like this, but the ambiguity in a novel this constructed felt tragically wasted. I don't know. I'm ready and willing to read others' interpretations though.

My Penguin Classics edition was a wonderful copy for anyone looking for an English-language translation, and their notes on translation were very agreeable. It's modern in that it's conservative, and I appreciated the lack of translation of proper nouns. Go Hugh and Helen! ( )
  Eavans | Jan 1, 2024 |
Very good. Very moving. The love affair, for all the novel’s plot and point turned upon it, was very subtly done. But in the end that was correct because it was all nothing of import. How much trouble things of no import cause.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
Ik heb deze roman lang laten liggen omdat ik dacht dat het zo’n typische, depressief makende, naturalistische roman was, typisch voor het einde van de 19de eeuw. Je weet wel, met personages die gedetermineerd zijn door hun afkomst, onder enorme sociale druk staan, en roemloos ten onder gaan aan hun voorbestemd lot. Maar toen ik er uiteindelijk aan begon, leek dit wel een luchtige society-roman, een beetje in de stijl van Jane Austen, inclusief de kibbelende vader en moeder van het hoofdpersonage. Dat bleek dan ook weer niet juist, natuurlijk. Dit verhaal is wel degelijk het verhaal van een ondergang, gefocust op de jonge freule Effi, telg van een lagere adel-familie in het Pruisen van Bismarck (dat laatste heeft ook wel enige relevantie voor het verhaal). En die sociale druk is er wel degelijk, vooral in de ervaring van Effi’s man Geert von Instetten, die het na de centrale, dramatische wending in het verhaal treffend verwoordt: “Wherever men live together, something has been established that’s just there, and it’s a code we’ve become accustomed to judging everything by, ourselves as well as others. And going against it is unacceptable; society despises you for it, and in the end you despise yourself, you can’t bear it any longer and put a gun to your head.”
Fontane heeft zijn verhaal wat gekruid met gothic elementen (de China-man die fungeert als boeman, het donkere woud, enz). En het drama van Effi doet onvermijdelijk aan Emma Bovary en Anna Karenina denken. Alleen, bij die vergelijking blijf ik toch wat met ambigue gevoelens zitten: het personage Effi blijft voor mij iets te veel aan de oppervlakte steken; Fontane lijkt te suggereren dat haar overspel puur aan verveling is te wijten en bevestigt daarmee het beeld van een verwend meisje dat ten onder ging omdat ze te vroeg trouwde, puur uit conventie en niet uit liefde. Dan lijkt haar man, de ‘perfecte’ maar saaie von Instetten iets gelaagder uit de verf te komen.
Het meest nog kon ik in deze roman genieten van de conversaties tussen de vader en de moeder van Effi. Elk op hun manier weten ze perfect de vinger op de wonde te leggen. Al bekennen ze ook hun onmacht, want de wisselvalligheden van het leven lijken “too vast a subject”. ( )
  bookomaniac | Jul 10, 2023 |
Not really my kind of story but well written and an interesting look at late 19th century German society. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Fontane, Theodorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Chambers, HelenTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Coler, ChristfriedPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Geiger, HannsludwigEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mitchell, MikeTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Parmée, DouglasTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Robertson, RitchieIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rorrison, HughTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Schafarschik, WalterAnmerkungenautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Wölfel, KurtNachwortautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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In Front des schon seit Kurfuerst Georg Wilhelm von der Familie von Briest bewohnten Herrenhauses zu Hohen-Cremmen fiel heller Sonnenschein auf die mittagsstille Dorfstraße, während nach der Park- und Gartenseite hin ein rechtwinklig angebauter Seitenflügel einen breiten Schatten erst auf einen weiß und grün quadrierten Fliesengang und dann über diesen hinaus auf ein großes, in seiner Mitte mit einer Sonnenuhr und an seinem Rande mit Canna indica und Rhabarberstauden besetzten Rondell warf.
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345835204X 2006 softcover German insel taschenbuch 3504, Das blaue insel taschenbuch
3458357262 2011 softcover German insel taschenbuch 4026
3458730354 2012 eBook German Insel
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Effi Briest, the classic German realist novel, follows a young woman through her life and marriage. She is an innocent when she is married to the social climbing Instetten, and longs for wordly things. When she is left alone by her husband, who is pursuing his political career, she succumbs to the flattery of another man. Her adultery has wide and tragic consequences on the rest of her life.

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