17 votes
Accepted

What are the "torch dance" and "garter dance", in 19th-century Germany?

"Torch dance" is the translation of Fackeltanz. The Fackeltanz is similair to the polonaise but the dancers hold torches or candles in their hands and move according to fixed patterns. There ...
  • 40.6k
13 votes

What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to "wear the cross"?

The “war of seventy” refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and this is confirmed by the mention of Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of the North German Confederation at the outbreak of the war, ...
  • 44.2k
9 votes

What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

At the end of the 19th century Arnold Böcklin was a well-known painter. Die Gefilde der Seligen, apparently the painting the book refers to, had been commissioned in 1876 by the National Gallery. ...
7 votes
Accepted

What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

The comment doesn't need to reference a real painting to make sense in the context of the novel, but some searching shows that Fontane had a particular painting in mind. Since Hesiod, Elysium has also ...
  • 40.6k
5 votes
Accepted

Significance of Effi Briest's name

Fontane spent several years in England as correspondent for Prussian newspapers. One of the English-language authors he read was Walter Scott; he even translated a number of Scott's poems into German. ...
  • 40.6k
4 votes
Accepted

What is this passage saying about Precentor Jahnke?

In German, the corresponding passage (quoted from Effie Briest on Zeno.org) goes as follows: Zwei der jungen Mädchen – kleine, rundliche Persönchen, zu deren krausem, rotblondem Haar ihre ...
  • 40.6k
4 votes
Accepted

What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to "wear the cross"?

In German, the corresponding passage (quoted from Effie Briest on Zeno.org) does not mention the type of cross: Kurz und gut, er nahm den Abschied und fing an, Juristerei zu studieren, wie Papa sagt, ...
  • 40.6k
4 votes

What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

@Tsundoku writes: "He is teasing Effi with the idea that marriage does not lead to a blessed or happy state, so she should at least get a glimpse of it before she gets married." Not quite. ...
3 votes
Accepted

What is the significance of "Come, Effi"?

The "little incident" is nothing more than what is described at the end of Chapter II: almost at the very moment when he was approaching her with a friendly bow there appeared at one of ...
  • 40.6k
3 votes

When and where did Thomas Mann say that Effi Briest is one of the six best novels in his library?

Thomas Mann's article "To Theodor Fontane's 100th Birthday" was published in Berliner Tageblatt on 25-Dec-1919. There you can find the quote: Eine Romanbibliothek der rigorosesten Auswahl, ...
  • 595
2 votes
Accepted

In Effi Briest, what is the meaning and significance of a "wide field"?

What field, in this context, is too wide? The topic of the inequality between women and men, manifested in the fact that Innstetten decides how he and Effi will spend their honeymoon, and Effi has to ...
1 vote

What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to "wear the cross"?

The cross that is been talked about is the Iron Cross, established as the military decoration. From the linked Wikipedia page: The Iron Cross (German: Eisernes Kreuz, abbreviated EK) is a former ...

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