Fiction > Harvard Classics > Theodor Fontane > Trials and Tribulations > Criticisms and Interpretations >II
Theodor Fontane (1819–1898).  Trials and Tribulations.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Criticisms and Interpretations
II. By S. C. de Soissons
IN 1898, Germany suffered a great loss in the person of Theodor Fontane, who represented a superior kind of realism, and to whom the modern German novel was very much indebted. As he was of French origin, his writings naturally possessed more equilibrium and measure than one usually finds in German writers; he also had a fine and keen esprit, never importuning, never displaying his wit, never running into pathos. For that reason his novels seemed cold to sentimental readers and frivolous to moralists. But the cultivated and unprejudiced readers and admired his quiet experience and his deep knowledge of external life as well as of the depths of the human soul, qualities which were mingled with a love of his native country, Brandenburg. But although dead, Fontane has not ceased to be the father of modern realism. All that is good, true, beautiful, and important in the German realistic novel comes from Theodor Fontane. Naturalism and symbolism stand far apart from him; but even the most passionate and the most intelligent adversaries of symbolism point to him as a representative of true art.—From “The Modern German Novel,” in “The Contemporary Review” (1904).   1


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