- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Nov. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140447660
- ISBN-13: 978-0140447668
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Effi Briest (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Nov 2000
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It's very moving, and it's incredibly funny ... I wasn't prepared for the wit. Stupendous on so many levels (Matt Wolff)
A stunningly moving, beautiful, witty and urbane novel: I was blown away by it. A wonderful translation (Kate Saunders)
About the Author
Theodor Fontane (1819-98) was a German novelist and potitical reporter. Along with EFFI BRIEST, Fontane is remembered for FRAU JENNY TREIBEL (1892), an ironic criticism of middle-class hypocrisy and small-mindedness.
Hugh Rorrison has published extensively on modern German theatre and teaches German film at the University of Leeds. Helen Chambers organised the first conference on English translations of Fontane in 1992 and teaches German at the University of St Andrews.
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Top Customer Reviews
The three novels have much in common. In each the protagonist is a young woman, unhappily married to an older man, who seeks an escape from her unhappiness in an extra-marital affair, only to find that unhappiness continues to elude her and that by committing adultery she has only made her position worse rather than better. In each case the wronged husband is a pillar of upper or middle-class respectability who has done nothing which society or the law would regard as a matrimonial offence. Charles Bovary, Alexei Karenin and Effi’s husband Baron Geert von Innstetten are not unfaithful, drunken, violent, financially improvident or consciously cruel. Their fault is that they are cold and emotionally distant, unable to feel love for their wives or to inspire it in them.
In a defence of his first novel, “Before the Storm”, Fontane described it as a “Mehrheitsroman”, or “multiple novel”, that is to say a novel which aims to give a portrait of a particular society at a given point in history. He contrasted it with the “Einheitsroman”, or “unitary novel”, such as Dickens’s “David Copperfield”, which follows the adventures of a single protagonist. Unlike “Before the Storm”, “Effi Briest” is a “unitary novel” of this type.Read more ›
One great pleasure of Fontane's novel (1896) is its thematic vicinity to "Madame Bovary" (1856) and "Anna Karenina" (1873-76). If you have read the other two, you should certainly read this, if only for the pleasures of comparison. It's far less savage than Flaubert's novel and less impassioned than Tolstoy's, and in some ways more modern than either (as you might guess from the dates). It's quite thinly textured and minimalist for a nineteenth-century novel--hence my being able to knock it off in a seven-hour flight--but it demands quite a lot of parsing from the reader. It's the kind of novel that has you rifling back through your memory after reading it, trying to work out exactly what was happening at each moment. I can see why academics love Fontane.
Here is an example of the work's ambiguity. The introduction to the edition I read (by Helen Chambers, in Penguin Classics) describes Effi as a delightful, life-force-filled creature, and her older husband Instetten as a dry, oppressive, sexless, almost Casaubon-like figure, who attempts to control her. This surprised me when I read it (retrospectively); it wasn't how I reacted to these figures. For one thing, Instetten seems as much of a victim as Effi is. It's hard to know who destroys whom in the novel.Read more ›
Recommended for a great read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superseded by the Chambers translation and without background notes but still very readable (despite some real howlers in translation.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
I liked the book, it's a classic about a bored wife in the previous century and it is rather slow, not much happening.Published 20 months ago by tobykin
An eye-opener as to arranged marriage to a German aristocrat. Glad I read it.Published on 10 Aug. 2014 by D. J. Young
Thoughtful , sad and wonderfully expressed. A very beautiful piece of literature. Many thanks and no more words needed! Ok !Published on 23 Feb. 2014 by C. Ellis
Although on the same lines as Madame Bouvary I found this book more interesting and easier to read. A young carefree girl marries a dominating older man. Read morePublished on 22 Oct. 2013 by Maureen B
The product (a book), published directly by Amazon, claims to be the first paperback of the translation of 'Effi Briest', a German novel. I believe it to be 'unfit for purpose'. Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2013 by philsmith44