The Berlin Novels of Theodor Fontane by Henry Burnand Garland 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Henry Burnand Garland
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The Berlin Novels of Theodor Fontane by Henry Burnand Garland
Henry Burnand Garland
Oxford University Press, USA
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The gentle melancholy of two people coming together in a way which can never lead to full satisfaction, the quiet tragedy of a separation not forced by external powers but by the constant pressure of circumstances-this is what sounds through this splendid story. "Trials and Tribulations" is built entirely on this motive. An honest sturdy young officer and a decent pretty girl get to know each other on an excursion. Unconsciously they drift into a relation where heart meets heart, the breaking of which causes the deepest pain. But both see clearly from the beginning that there is no other end. For they know that the world is stronger than the individual, and the many small moments than the one supreme. They know it, for they are, like their creator, resigned realists. They shut their eyes only in order not to see the end too near. (Richard M. Meyer)---The interest of Fontane's novels lies rather in character than in action. While he portrays many types characteristic of Berlin and the surrounding region, and is very successful in rendering local color and the atmosphere of the particular circle described in each book, his penetration into universal human nature is sufficiently deep to raise him far above provincialism. His effort is to represent people vividly and naturally in their normal relations, not to strain after sensational or even dramatic situations. "Trials and Tribulations" ("Irrungen Wirrungen", 1887) gives an excellent idea of his power. In a gently moving story, told without the forcing of emotion or the contriving of exciting scenes, he deals with the pathos of the relation between a man and a woman, alike in an attractive simplicity of character, but forced apart by difference of rank. The situation is laid before us without expressed censure or protest, and is allowed to have its effect by the sober truth of its presentation. Fontane's is an honest and sincere art, none the less great because unpretentious. (W.A.N.)

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