• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
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  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
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  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
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  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
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  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
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  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
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  • T
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  • R
  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
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  • P
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  • FOREIGN POLICY
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  • EBERT MAKES A DEAL WITH THE
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  • THE GOALS OF THE PEACEMAKERS
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  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Fontane, Theodor

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(18191898)

    realist novelist

    Theodor Fontane was a novelist who depicted

    the BERLIN society of his time as it faced the process

    of change into an age of industrialization.

    He was critical of Prussian NATIONALISM and its

    chauvinism. Fontane believed that marriage and

    society represented principles of order, and

    unhappiness and tragedy followed those who

    violated them.

    Among the many Huguenots who were

    forced to flee from France and who found refuge

    in BRANDENBURG was one of Theodor Fontanes

    ancestors, Jacques François Fontane. He settled

    in Eberswalde in 1694. Generations later Theodor

    was born in Neuruppin on December 30, 1819,

    Fontane, Theodor 379

    the son of a pharmacist. Not inclined to pharmacy

    himself, Theodor decided to pursue a literary

    career. In his early twenties he

    demonstrated considerable talent by writing literary

    ballads that became popular and still

    appear in school readers. In 1852 he went to

    England as a newspaper correspondent, became

    an admirer of the work of Charles Dickens, and

    studied ballad origins. In 1855 he became editor

    of the Anglo-German news agency and an

    attaché to the Prussian embassy. Upon his return

    from England in 1859 he was employed on the

    editorial staff of the conservative Kreuzzeitung

    and reported on all three of the wars of unification.

    During the Franco-Prussian War he even

    experienced capture by the French who thought

    he was a spy. His travels were described during

    those years in Travels through the Mark Brandenburg

    (4 vols.), which served as a form of literary

    travel guide for visitors from other areas. For 20

    years afterward he was a theater critic for the

    liberal Berlin Vossische Zeitung.

    His most important contributions to literature

    and to an understanding of IMPERIAL GERMANY

    were his novels. Before the Storm (1878) was a

    historic patriotic story about the days before the

    downfall of Napoleon, uncharacteristic of his

    later works, which probed the problems of society.

    It was in his Berlin novels series that

    Fontane reached the height of his literary career.

    Of the three novels dealing with the painful consequences

    of adultery, Adultery (1882), Trials and

    Tribulations (1888), and Effi Briest (1895), Effi

    Briest is the best of the three and one of the great

    masterpieces of the European psychological

    novel. It is the story of a German Madame

    Bovary who marries a stern Prussian official

    twice her age. After the honeymoon she returns

    to a boring life in the provinces and has an affair

    with a handsome officer. There is a duel

    between the husband and the officer, who is

    killed. Because social custom dictates it, Effi is

    divorced by her husband and loses custody of

    her child. She must live the rest of her life isolated

    in Berlin. In the end Effi returns home,

    dying of tuberculosis and symbolically dying of

    a broken heart.

    A gentle satire against the pretentiousness

    and shallowness of the rich MIDDLE CLASS of the

    new Empire is dramatized in Lady Jenny Treibel

    (1892). Fontane explores the social relationship

    between two Berlin families, the Treibels and the

    Schmidts. The novel is a witty, ironical comedy

    and recounts the short-lived betrothal of the

    wealthy and upwardly mobile Treibel son,

    Leopold, with Corinna, the intelligent daughter

    of Willibald Schmidt, an impecunious schoolmaster.

    Corinna is a modern woman, an audacious

    breed who wants to share in the rewards

    of material progress, even if she must do so

    through a marriage of convenience. In that context

    we see that Jenny, the mother, and her husband,

    an industrialist, are primarily motivated

    by money and social rank. Besides being a social

    climber, Jenny wants people to think that she

    favors art and culture, is for poetry not prose,

    and in that, she confuses aesthetic aspiration

    with social superiority. All appears to end well

    with Corinna realizing her false sense of values

    and breaking off the relationship with Leopold

    and marrying someone of her own social class.

    Fontane expresses the hope that Germany can

    triumph over material greed and its better self

    can triumph.

    In his late masterpiece, Der Stecklin (1899),

    Fontane mourned the passing away of the old

    aristocratic leaders. The story is about an aging

    widower, Dubslav von Stecklin, living in a dilapidated

    mansion. The novel does not have a plot,

    but Fontane expresses in masterly fashion the

    landscape around Berlin, and it is a fine study of

    unforgettable characters. Here Fontane is a sympathetic

    critic of William IIs times. Sympathetic

    to the good old days and open to the ideas of the

    emerging age, he is nostalgic but outdated. Taken

    together, Fontanes novels are comparable to the

    best in the tradition of psychological realism.

    were   GERMANC   Germany   Party   their   Prussians   army   state   government   became   they   during   Austrian   CHURCHES   French   political   Frederick   Nazis   Social   Hitler   after   against   economic   some   republican