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Effi Briest

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  6,005 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
Telling the tragic tale of a socially advantageous but emotionally ruinous match, Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest is translated from the German by Hugh Rorrison with an introduction by Helen Chambers in Penguin Classics.

Unworldly young Effi Briest is married off to Baron von Innstetten, an austere and ambitious civil servant twice her age, who has little time for his new wif
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 228 pages
Published November 30th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1895)
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This is a book in which everybody gets what they wanted, whether they like it or not.

The eponymous heroine gets to marry a man of principals, her husband gets to marry somebody who he thinks (presumably) is just like her mother who he had wanted to marry twenty years earlier and Major Crampas gets to die in combat just as he always wanted.

Social Stricture
Fontane prefers to tell simple stories and Effi Briest is no exception. The plot is very simple and loosely based on a true story, the strength
German novelist, Thomas Mann, said that if he could only have six novels on his bookshelf, Effi Briest would be one of them. Effi Briest (1896), Theodore Fontane's Realist novel, tells the story of seventeen year old Effi, her arranged marriage to a much older man, her youthful, almost innocent, mistake of being seduced into adultery, and her tragic fall from grace and from her position in society.

Effi Briest has been compared to Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina because of it's subject matter, bu
Wenn ich jemals ein wirklich langweiliges Buch gelesen habe, dann war das Effie Briest. Die Schreibweise von Fontane ist für mich der reinste Horror, weil sie die interessanten Dinge kurz und knapp und die uninteressanten ausführlichst behandelte, die Charaktere, allen voran Effie selbst, waren unsympathisch und insgesamt fällt mir absolut nichts ein, was mir an diesem Buch gefallen hat.
Translator's Note

--Effi Briest

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Effie Briest is the name of the tragic heroine here, so this is like the Madame Bovary of Germany, because the author was born in Berlin and this was originally published in German in 1894--118 years ago.

The original title in German was the same: Effie Briest. When it was translated into English the title was retained (names shouldn't be translated) so when I first got hold of a copy of this book last 12 February 2012 I thought "Effie Briest" was some kind of a German philosophical concept. It
Dec 23, 2015 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classicissimi
Durante la lettura di Effie Briest il mio pensiero correva spesso a “Madame Bovary”. Sì, perché ho letto alcuni commenti che descrivevano questo personaggio come una “Madame Bovary germanica”.
In realtà Emma ed Effie sono completamente diverse.
Leggere la storia di Emma Bovary è come sorseggiare una coppa di ottimo spumante, pieno di bollicine che pizzicano la lingua e fanno starnutire, accompagnato a cibi raffinati per palati esigenti. Prezioso come la scrittura di Flaubert.
Leggere Effie Briest è
Aug 10, 2008 Simon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, novel, owned, school
Effi Briest ist die überaus ereignislose Geschichte eines kleinadligen Zuckerpüppchens mit einer Neigung zu Einbildung und Hypochondrie.
Immer, wenn scheinbar tatsächlich etwas geschieht, blendet der Autor ab, sodass die schöne heile Welt des Adelssprössleins unangetastet bleibt, in der sogar die pseudo-bedeutsamen Probleme idealisiert sind.

Ein Buch, das auf bewundernswerte Art die Denkweise der "Oberen Zehntausend", von Monarchisten, Neoliberalen und Sozialkonservativen offenlegt - aber leider a
Sep 27, 2015 Seth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Effie Briest, which I read a few years ago, is Theodor Fontane's most popular novel. We meet the protagonist as an intelligent, exuberant, and privileged child growing up on an estate outside Berlin during the Wilhelmine era. The novel is about Effie's arranged marriage at the tender age of 17 to an ambitious provincial bureaucrat, who is old enough to be her father.

When Baron Geert von Innstetten, a minor protege of Bismarck, asks Effie's parents for her hand in marriage, her mother presents he
Apr 06, 2014 Issicratea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
I had been meaning to read this novel for ages, but, when I did, I read it in a completely inappropriate manner, gobbling it down in one sitting on a long-distance flight in the manner of a Dan Brown. That’s not at all how it’s meant to be consumed; it’s a finely crafted, subtle, allusive work that deserves a much more patient reading. I went back at the end and reread the first chapter, saturated in hints and prefigurings, and I decided I should probably read the whole thing again.

One great ple
Jun 22, 2012 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
One of the sublime features of the novel, as an artistic medium, is its ability to bring readers into contact with different historical and imaginative worlds. Effie Briest not only brings us into contact with a distant, alien world, it paints in subtle and vivid tones a drama that spells its undoing.

Personally, I find 19th century Europe one of the dullest intervals in human history. So much was going on but at the same time it was an era of poses and pontificating rigidity. And as Nietzsche s
Nella mia crassa ignoranza non conoscevo affatto Theodor Fontane e neppure sapevo che questo suo romanzo è considerato, assieme a “Madame Bovary” e ad “Anna Karenina”, uno dei libri più significativi sul tema del matrimonio e dell’adulterio scritti nell’Ottocento. Bè, adesso ho colmato la lacuna.

L’avvio è, detto sinceramente, piuttosto noioso, ma a partire dal rientro del viaggio di nozze tra la giovanissima Effi, diciassette anni, e il più maturo Innstetten, trentotto anni, la narrazione si fa
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
In front of the old manor house occupied by the von Briest family since the days of Elector George William, the bright sunshine was pouring down upon the village road, at the quiet hour of noon. The wing of the mansion looking toward the garden and park cast its broad shadow over a white and green checkered tile walk and extended out over a large round bed, with a sundial in its centre and a border of Indian shot and rhubarb. Some twenty
Camillo Emanuele
Aug 23, 2015 Camillo Emanuele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Effi Briest è uno di quei romanzi che sono stati inclusi nella trilogia dell'adulterio, insieme ad Anna Karenina e Madame Bovary. Ci sono, tuttavia, delle differenze rispetto agli altri due libri.

Quest'opera presenta una struttura narrativa amplificata che, in sole 300 pagine, percorre un tempo di circa quattordici anni (se non vado errato con i conti). Effi, la protagonista, a differenza delle altre due donne, è pervasa da una solitudine fanciullesca ed emarginante.

Costretta dai suoi buoni se
May 16, 2016 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just realised I've never written a review for this. It's been more than 10 years since I had to read this for school but I still remember how I always compared Fontane's description of the old Prussian ways and the society with the worlds described by Tolstoy.
Back then, I gave this 3 stars. Today, I'm going to give it 4 because now I appreciate the writing style much more because its melancholy (that almost made me hate the book at times back then) perfectly reflects Effi's world.

The story is
"Effi Briest" steckt voller lebhafter Dialoge, langatmiger Landschaftsbeschreibungen und einem auktorialen Erzähler, der nie Kritik ausübt, dem es aber trotzdem gelingt, das veraltete Wertesystem der deutschen Gesellschaft zu Zeiten des Kaiserreiches zu kritisieren.

Die Geschichte handelt von Effi Briest, die mit 17 Jahren einen viel zu alten und viel zu ernsten Baron von Instetten heiraten muss und mit ihn auf das Land zieht, in die Nähe der Ostsee, wo sie gelangweilt und unterfordert (ihr Ehema
Jun 07, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Part of my agenda this year is to read classic novels that have been forgotten, using several reviewers' lists. Thomas Mann considered Fontane's Effie Briest one of six best novels ever written.

Set in Pomeranian Germany in the late 1800s, It is a classic story of what can go wrong in an arranged marriage. Effi is a vivacious, carefree 17 year old when Baron von Instetten arranges with her parents to marry her (and to drive home his own views on such arrangements, Fontane notes the same baron had
Dit is het keuzeboek voor dit kwartaal van de Classics United groep en ik wacht met een recensie totdat het kwartaal afgelopen is. Eigenlijk 3,5 sterren.
Jun 28, 2013 ضُحى rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1434, 19th-century
Ich lese die arabische Version

إيفي بريست رواية ألمانية عن الطبقة الأرستقراطية وهي من أواخر القرن التاسع عشر.مقتبسة من قصة حقيقية. ولكن إيفي تموت لتعيش البطلة الحقيقة عمراً مديد.إذ أن عمرها قارب المئة.

إيفي فتاة في السابعة عشر من عمرها شاء لها القدر أن ترتبط بصديق والدتها في الطفولة والشباب,وأن لايكون لها قرار في ذلك إذ أنها طواعية توافق,بلا تفكير حتى.هذا الزوج(إنشتَتن)يكبرها بكثير وهنا تكمن المشكلة.إذ أن فارق السن هذا هو بطل القصة الذي يجعلها تنجرف للخيانة.هي فتاة شابة وتريد من يعاملها كزوجة لا
Mar 07, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A terrific discovery, via New York Review of Books . And subsequently, a lengthy piece in New Yorker. All of a sudden, a forgotten or never-heard-of German novelist is getting all the love. He deserves it. (BTW, why are the marks so low on this site?) Thomas Mann thought he was great, and Tommy knows writin'. The New Yorker piece talks about his "profound empathy." Can't argue with that. Not sure I've engaged with a 19th century novelist, certainly not male, so sensitive to the needs, desires an ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Ophelinha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se nella prima metà Effi Briest mi aveva addirittura annoiato, ho poi ceduto alla malia dell'innocenza e del candore con cui viene raccontata la vicenda di Effie, la cui colpa sostanzialmente è quella di essere ancora una bambina, che non si conosce, che non conosce il suo posto nel mondo. E quest'innocenza, questo candore di tempi andati, quest'apparente semplicicità sono alcune delle caratteristiche che, anche inconsapevolmente, cerco in un classico.
Kim Lovee
Sep 16, 2013 Kim Lovee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Es ist furchtbar langweilig. Ich musste ja schon viele Lektüren in Deutsch lesen und noch nie war ein Buch so langweilig. Auf Seite 100 habe ich es abgebrochen und mir im Internet eine Zusammenfassung zu jeden einzelnen Kapitel durchgelesen. Ich bin so froh wenn wir das Thema in Deutsch abschließen können!
A thoroughly not-bad story of betrayal and its consequences in stuffy, conservative Bismarck-era Prussia. This being a German novel, the protagonists are a good deal more humorless and systems-driven than Madame Bovary and the petty townies that surround her, or Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky in the Russian dusk. Instead, we have Effi Briest, a dreamy, interesting, sensitive person, stuck in this dreadful world of militarist junkers grandstanding and trying to crawl up the bureaucratic ladder, ...more
Jun 07, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
EFFIE BRIEST. (1895). Theodor Fontane. ****.
I’ll be honest: the reason I read this book is that I had never heard of either it or the author. Add to that the fact that it was a Penguin Classic and I was instantly committed. I later learned that the author was considered as one of the finest German writers to have produced work in the period between Goethe and Mann. Even Thomas Mann said that if he only had room in his library for six books that this would be one of them. The things we don’t know
Jan 21, 2014 Noam rated it it was amazing
first off, i have to complain about the updated penguin classics cover. with such a wonderful painting (rysselberghe's portrait of marguerite van mons), how is it possible not to already be subconsciously in love with the book? such a leading book cover. let me make up my own mind!

this book seems to have hardly above average writing, on the most direct level, but it is then - almost as an afterthought - so enthralling and beautiful in each and every subtext, unwritten scene, and deeply depressin
Dennis Fischman
I can understand why some people compare this book to Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, but it is at once a slighter novel and a subtler, more realistic portrayal. I think the closer comparison is with Daniel Deronda. In each, a girl gets married too young to an older man who wants her for the wrong reasons, lives to regret it, and seeks a way out that finally is not a way out at all.

The George Eliot novel is much more of a melodrama, however (not saying that as a derogatory term, just a genre).
Quinn Slobodian
It's hard not to think about Madame Bovary when reading this book. But Emma Bovary's desire cut across the mannered poise of the mid-century French gentry. Her fault was believing too much in the novels, that there was a 1:1 relationship between form and substance. She saw the secular Lives of the Saints happening all around her, and the profanity and beauty of it made her swoon. She died dramatically rather than melodramatically. Effi Briest's desire cuts across ethics rather than aesthetics. S ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Kezia rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
This German (or Prussian) novel of late 19th century society shares more with some Russian or British fiction than it does with the likes of Mann or Goethe - perhaps because Fontane was of French origin. He uses journalistic skill to assemble a novel without using a moral hammer, and gives us mostly sympathetic characters, and some more symbolic vehicles disguised as characters. Effi herself could hold her own against heroines from Austen or Hardy, not for intellect or accomplishment, but for ap ...more
I ... didn't mind this? It's a stiffly written, rather melancholy little book and took longer than it should have to read; perhaps the translation could have been better. The dreariness of Effi's first marital home is conveyed well. I liked Effi. I liked that there wasn't the instant death or death-in-life after transgressing; Effi is represented as ultimately perishing through lack of respectability but she does try to make a life for herself. But I didn't really understand what the point of it ...more
Mar 10, 2010 Jaga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to read Karenina, THAT's a better deal
Shelves: borrowed, canonical
Fascinating read. Seems a lot less pretentious that Anna Karenina. Contrary to Tolstoy's novel this one actually focuses on the story of the heroine. After struggling through LONG pages of Tolstoy's views on agrarian reform (yes, and why not throw in a lecture on sociology, religion or ethics) Effi is really refreshing.

PS. Effi also contains opinions on religion and society but they are natural and don't strike you as Copy/Paste from a pamphlet. (I wonder if Tolstoy planned that? 'Hey, I can fi
Jan 15, 2016 Unarosa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, history
Effi Briest, eine schöne und sehr traurige Geschichte einer jungen Frau, die man sowohl nachvollziehen als auch nachempfinden kann. Gerade zum Schluss habe ich mit ihr gelitten und musste tatsächlich sogar weinen!
Der Schreibstil ist der Zeit entsprechend, somit musste ich mich erst einmal damit zurecht finden, aber mit der Zeit hatte ich viel Freude beim Lesen und auch wenn der Inhalt eher alltäglich ist, war doch Spannung da.
Für mich, da ich gern geschichtliche Romane lese bzw ein großes Inte
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I Read Therefore ...: October 2013 Monthly Read- Effi Briest 54 26 Oct 28, 2013 01:55AM  
  • Der Untertan
  • Green Henry
  • Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts
  • Die Judenbuche
  • Lieutenant Gustl
  • Lenz
  • Das siebte Kreuz
  • The German Lesson
  • Simplicissimus
  • Der Schimmelreiter
  • Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
  • Minna von Barnhelm
  • Henry von Ofterdingen
  • Der zerbrochne Krug
  • Berlin Alexanderplatz
  • Die Jungfrau von Orleans
  • Anton Reiser
  • Sansibar oder der letzte Grund
Theodor Fontane (30 December 1819 – 20 September 1898) was a German novelist and poet, regarded by many to be the most important 19th-century German-language realist writer.

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“Ich liebe dich ja… wie heißt es doch, wenn man einen Zweig abbricht und die Blätter abreißt? Von Herzen, mit Schmerzen, über alle Maßen.” 12 likes
“Wir müssen verführerisch sein, sonst sind wir gar nichts.” 3 likes
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