A Reader's Guide to Theodor Fontane & 'Effi Briest'
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Thomas Mann, the Nobel-winning German novelist, once stated that if one had to reduce one’s library to only six novels, then one of them would be Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest. He felt strongly that it was one of the six most important novels ever written! This year, which sees the 200th anniversary of Fontane’s birth, seems an especially apt time to read and discuss it.
Probably you have read those two great novels of adultery – Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. How about trying some Prussian adultery for a change? Get to know poor Effi, married off so young to be a man old enough to be her father and ex-boyfriend to her own mother, tempted by boredom and frustration into a passionless affair, and paying an incredibly heavy price for her brief lapse.
As well as a tale of illicit passion, this is also a portrayal of Prussian society at a very influential time in its history. Effi Briest is a powerful and important novel of the late 19th Century – I hope you enjoy getting to know a new author and an intriguing, memorable book.
Effi Briest is a powerful and important novel of the late 19th C – I hope you enjoy getting to know a new author and an intriguing, memorable book. How did you respond to Effi? Do you find her charming or irritating, intelligent or foolish, sympathetic or unlikeable? Discuss this with your book group or even with me by leaving a comment below.
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Featured image credit- Hanna Schygulla as ‘Effi Briest’, 1974 Fassbinder/Tango Films adaptation at imdb fan sites, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071458/
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