Theodor Fontane, Mike Mitchell
‘I loathe what I did, but what I loathe even more is your virtue.’
Seventeen-year-old Effi Briest is steered by her parents into marriage with an ambitious bureaucrat, twenty years her senior. He takes her from her home to a remote provincial town on the Baltic coast of Prussia where she is isolated, bored, and prey to superstitious fears. She drifts into a half-hearted affair with a manipulative, womanizing officer, which ends when her husband is transferred to Berlin. Years later, events are triggered that will have profound consequences for Effi and her
Effi Briest (1895) is recognized as one of the masterpieces by Theodor Fontane, Germany’s premier realist novelist, and one of the great novels of marital relations together with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina. It presents life among the conservative Prussian aristocracy with irony and gentle humour, and opposes the rigid and antiquated morality of the time by treating its heroine with sympathy and keen psychological insight.
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I'd barely heard of Theodor Fontane before I read this, but he clearly was an important novelist and I'm delighted to have been introduced to him. This is an great new edition, with a helpfully wide-ranging introduction and notes, and the translation by Mike Mitchell is excellent I never had the sense that I was even reading a translation, which is high praise from someone as fussy as I am. So highly recommended. * Shiny New Books, Harriet Devine * Fontane's masterpiece is now generally acclaimed as Germany's contribution, alongside Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, to the great nineteenth-century European novels of adultery. * Leo A. Lensing, Times Literary Supplement *
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