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Effi Briest

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  4,198 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Fontane's enchanting seventeen-year-old heroine, Effi, is married off to Geert von Innstetten, an austere, workaholic civil servant twice her age. Set in Bismarck's Germany, this luminous and moving tale of a socially suitable but emotionally disastrous match, shifts from childhood idyll in Brandenburg, to a remote Baltic port and back to Imperial Berlin.

With Effi Briest,
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Aufbau (first published 1895)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan-Maat
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
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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
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Seth
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
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James
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
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Simon
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
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Issicratea
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
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inga

I don't like Effi, she is childish and naive. But reading the last pages, you can't help pitiying her.
I did pity her. After all, she was just a little girl who wanted to be herself and she didn't know any better. I ended up bawling my eyes out.

The only character I appreciated was Roswitha, she was great.
But Effi's husband, dear god, no. What were her parents thinking, marrying off an eighteen-year-old girl, almost still a child, to a man more than twenty years her senior? And, even worse, he wo
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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).
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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
Kezia
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
Jaga
Mar 10, 2010 Jaga rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to read Karenina, THAT's a better deal
Shelves: canonical, borrowed
description
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
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Eric
Thomas Mann was right! this book is amazing; one of those great ones where an unsettling mood somehow grows on you between the lines...much going on beneath the surface. by turns glib and contemplative, always surprising in emphasis and turn of phrase, this one will stay with you. charming & foreboding, light & dark, biting social criticism without heavyhandedness...I love this book! now to watch Fassbinder's film version!
Duane
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
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Tony
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
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Seunanottedinvernounlettore
A volte i classici mi annoiano.
Questo succede quando mi trovo di fronte a storie, tematiche o considerazioni che al giorno d’oggi risultano banali e scontate, perché ampiamente assorbite nell’immaginario comune.
Di questo non do sicuramente la colpa all’autore, uomo del suo tempo, quanto piuttosto alla mia difficoltà di capire se sia il classico ad essersi immerso totalmente nella società o se esso sia la rappresentazione di una realtà sempre uguale a se stessa.
Effi Briest non mi ha annoiata, ma
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Edward
According to the preface Thomas Mann called EFFI BRIEST one of the six most significant novels ever written. It doesn't say what the others were. My first reaction was, how come I've never heard of this novel if it's so good? I read it for a book group which hasn't met yet to discuss it.
Lists are always fun to create - would I include this novel on my top "six" (or "ten")
best novels I've ever read? I don't know - I haven't thought about it. Offhand, though, I found this 1895 novel, written wh
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Stephen
Fontane's "Effi Briest" is considered a masterpiece of 19th century German realism. As is often the case with realistic fiction, much more time is spent meticulously setting the stage than narrating the action. One can see from almost the first page of this work that young Effi Briest is destined for unfaithfulness and tragedy, but it takes two-thirds of this novel before she falls into the dire straits so powerfully depicted in the last third. It is worth the wait, however impatient the reader ...more
Noam
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
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Lona
بالتأكيد أن عمر السابعة عشر ليس عمر الاستقرار النفسي الذي يُمكِّن الشخص من فهم محيطه بالشكل الصحيح والاهم القيام بالخيارات الصحيحة وسيكون أيضاً عاملاً حاسماً في نجاح الزواج من عدمه وخصوصاً إذا كان الزوج بعمر يتجاوز السابعة عشر بعشرين عاماً وهو عمر يكون فيه الشخص خبز الحياة وعجنها وكوَّن مفهوماً معيناً والأهم يكون وصل إلا ذلك الاستقرار النفسي .. .. زواج بهذا الاختلاف العمري والاهم أن أحد الطرفين مازال بعمر السابعة عشر هو مزيج متفجِّر مصيره الفشل في أغلب الأحوال


(view spoiler)
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Maureen
This was a monthly choice by a Group I belong to on Goodreads. I had never heard of Fontane or "Effi Briest" before, but I loved this book and am grateful to the "I Read Therefore I Am" group for introducing me to Effi.

There are clearly many parallels with Anna Karenina, for example the strict and upright natures of Effi's husband Geert von Innstetten and Anna's husband Karenin and the wiseness of Effie's father von Briest and Kitty's father Prince Scherbatsky.

The book is much quicker and easier
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Aurora  Fitzrovia
Auf Seite 60 abgebrochen.

An "Irrungen Wirrungen" von Fontane, Schullektüre, habe ich mittlerweile nur noch ziemlich schlechte Erinnerungen. Aber dennoch fand ich den Inhalt von "Effi Briest" soweit ansprechend, dass ich doch nochmal einen Versuch starten wollte. Tja, letztlich hätte ich mir das sparen können, denn eigentlich fällt mein Urteil genauso aus wie damals bei "Irrungen Wirrungen". Es ist furchtbar langweilig. Langweilig, langweiliger, Effi Briest. Ich bin mir sicher, dass man hier best
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Dale Pobega
At first I found Theodor Fontane's novel a little slow but once Effi's "crime" is discovered it really takes off. Strangely enough my sympathies were almost as much with Effi's husband, Innstetten, as the heroine herself. He ruins his own life, unnecessarily takes the life of another, wrecks his family and causes the downfall of his wife knowing the whole disaster is avoidable. In fact, he feels no hate, desire for revenge and so much time has passed since the infidelity took place it seems ridi ...more
Eric
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
Julia
Ich bin so froh, dass ich endlich durch bin, dass ich versucht bin mehr Sterne zu geben... Aber die meiste Zeit hat mich dieses Buch um den Verstand gelangweilt! Das letzte Drittel fand ich allerdings plötzlich doch besser! Jetzt schwanke ich tatsächlich und gebe 3 Sterne. Nach wie vor bin ich aber froh, dass wir es in der Schule nicht lesen mussten (Grete Minde von Fontane war da die bessere Wahl! Danke Herr K.) Also 2-3 Sterne!
Andy
The element of the story that really struck me (and which accounts for the 3 stars ;-) was the way one gets to know the morality of the society in the 19th century. I think it is absolutely horrible that a young woman in her late twenties considers her life to be over! Toward the end of the book I really started to get an impression about the bigotry of the social system as well: Effi herself starts to show helpless anger in her being ostracized and gaped at by strangers.

Concerning Innstetten: h
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Cindy
Ich kann vollkommen nachvollziehen, warum so viele Effi Briest so furchtbar (und) langweilig finden, es ist eben sehr langatmig und scheinbar wird viel Unnötiges beschrieben und besprochen. Ich habe das Buch nun noch mal für eine Analyse gelesen und wenn man erst mal weiß und bemerkt, was da überhaupt alles drinsteckt und wie sehr alles zusammenhängt, dann ist es eine wirklich interessante Geschichte.
lisa_emily
May 12, 2008 lisa_emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drama-philes, latent post-romantics
Shelves: fictions, 1001-books
Not quite sure what compelled me to read this book; I picked it up at random while strolling in the public library. Since I had already read Madame Bovary, the similarities were obvious toward the end of the book. Most striking is how Fontane leaves out specific details (unlike Flaubert) and you must draw your own conclusions. It is more of character study than a morality tale.
Julietta
In Germany it is certainly considered to be one of the most significant books of all time, I just don't know why. As a student I had to read it and absolutely hated it. And actually never finished it. Nothing seems to be happening in this book and the whole story could be told in 2 sentences. There are certainly better books with the same topic around from this era.
Paul
I've read the German version.

Ach, wat is Duits toch een mooie taal. En wat is Effi Briest toch een mooie roman. Het is minstens 30 tot 35 jaar dat ik dit verhaal gelezen heb. Maar ik ging er weer helemaal in op. Werd er weemoedig nostalgisch van. Vochtige ogen. Zou dat toch de ouderdom zijn? Of is het gewoon schoonheid?
Het zal wel boter aan de galg zijn, maar toch probeer ik. Lees en je zult genieten. Indien mogelijk in het Duits, maar het boek is absoluut in het Nederlands vertaald. Er zijn ook
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Jennifer
I guess I didn't mind Fontane's writing too much and the story was alright too... What bothered me about this book to no end, however, was the main character. I'm not gonna lie, Effi Briest was one of the most unlikeable characters ever and I wanted to slap her on more than one occasion. She made this novel to one of the worst I've ever had to read.
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I Read Therefore ...: October 2013 Monthly Read- Effi Briest 54 25 Oct 28, 2013 01:55AM  
  • The German Lesson
  • Professor Unrat
  • Green Henry
  • Der Schimmelreiter
  • Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts
  • Simplicissimus
  • Die Judenbuche
  • Das siebte Kreuz
  • Der zerbrochne Krug
  • Nathan der Weise. Ein dramatisches Gedicht in fünf Aufzügen
  • Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
  • Anton Reiser: A Psychological Novel (Penguin Classics)
  • Lieutenant Gustl
  • Henry von Ofterdingen
  • Berlin Alexanderplatz
  • Draußen vor der Tür
  • The Quest for Christa T.
  • Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen
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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.

More about Theodor Fontane...
Irrungen, Wirrungen Frau Jenny Treibel The Stechlin Irretrievable Unterm Birnbaum

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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.” 7 likes
“Und dann sehe ich doch auch gleich, dass Sie anders sind als andere, dafür haben wir Frauen ein scharfes Auge.” 1 likes
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