Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Easton Press Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué books

Undine - Library of Famous Editions - 1996


Writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué (1777–1843), was a German Romantic writer and poet best known for his contributions to the literary genre of Romanticism during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Born on February 12, 1777, in Brandenburg, Prussia (now part of Germany), Fouqué's life and work were deeply influenced by the political and cultural upheavals of his time. Fouqué was a member of the Prussian nobility, and his early years were marked by military service. He fought in the Napoleonic Wars, which had a significant impact on his worldview and later influenced some of his literary themes. After his military service, Fouqué immersed himself in the cultural and intellectual currents of German Romanticism.

One of Fouqué's most celebrated works is the romantic fairy tale novella Undine (1811), which remains one of his enduring contributions to world literature. Undine tells the story of a water nymph who gains a human soul through her love for a knight, exploring themes of love, mortality, and the supernatural. The work has been adapted and retold in various forms over the years, attesting to its lasting influence. Fouqué's literary output encompassed a wide range of genres, including poetry, novels, and dramas. His fascination with medieval chivalry and the supernatural is evident in works like Sintram and His Companions (1815), a dark narrative exploring themes of redemption and the struggle between good and evil. His commitment to Romantic ideals extended beyond his literary pursuits. Fouqué was associated with the Romantic literary circle, and he formed friendships with prominent figures such as Ludwig Tieck and Novalis. His works often reflected the Romantic emphasis on emotion, individualism, and a connection to nature.

Fouqué's career was not without controversy, as he faced criticism for his conservative political views, which were in contrast to the liberal sentiments of some of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, his literary achievements and contributions to German Romantic literature earned him recognition and respect within the cultural landscape of his time. Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué passed away on January 23, 1843, leaving behind a legacy that continues to be appreciated for its imaginative storytelling, exploration of supernatural themes, and its place within the broader Romantic literary tradition.



This story, which is one of the most beautiful fairy tales, still ensures Fouqué a place in literature today. A water spirit Undine is looking for a soul, which she can only get through the love of a man. However, due to people's inadequacy and unfaithfulness, she cannot achieve her desired goal: her beloved husband, the knight Hildebrand, loses his life, and Undine has to return to the water, her true element. The fairy tale was enthusiastically received and received a wealth of translations. The afterword provides data on Fouque's life and his Undine.

Undine is a fairy-tale novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in which Undine, a water spirit, marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. It is an early German romance, which has been translated into English and other languages.

Of Undine George MacDonald, the famous Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister, and author of the Princess and Curdie, as well as many other works, and the inspiration for C. S. Lewis, said it was "the most beautiful" of all fairy stories.

"Of all the great mass of material left by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1777-1843), only a lyric or two and the fairy tale Undine have any value for the present day. Fouqué represents the talent which develops in the glare of the world, is popular for a decade, but soon withers when the sun is set. His relations to Romanticism are largely external; he frequented the salons of Rachel Levin and Henrietta Herz in Berlin, was aided by August von Schlegel, and was praised by Jean Paul; but in his heart he was not inspired by any of the deeper longings that characterize the true Romantic spirit. Even though he is to be credited with the first modern dramatization of the Nibelungen story, The Hero of the North (1810), and though he took subjects from the Germanic past and from the chivalric days, he brought no new life to his rehabilitations. Fouqué was too productive, too facile, too external, too indifferent to psychological motivation to be real. He diluted Romanticism and sentimentalized it. In him patriotism becomes chauvinism; love, philandering; and his age of chivalry, a thinly veiled and sentimental picture of his own times. The strength and the indigenousness of Arnim are gone, and that power to throw a Romantic glamor over life which Tieck and Hoffmann had, is lacking.

Only in his charming fairy-tale, Undine (1811), does Fouqué rise above his milieu. Undine, the source of which, according to Fouqué himself, is to be found in a work of Paracelsus on supernatural beings, remains one of the best creations of the Romantic school and, like Eichendorff's novel, has become international, not only in its original form but in the opera by Lortzing (first performance, Hamburg, 1845). The value of the story lies in the author's power to make the reader believe in Undine, the water sprite, and in the presentation of a new nature-mythology. All Romanticists have consciously or unconsciously attempted to satisfy Friedrich Schlegel's demand for anew mythology: Fouqué's earth, air, and water spirits people the elements with graceful forms from the world of nature; the nymph Undine in the form of a flowing stream embraces even in death the grave of her lover."

"Most artistic of all the continental weird tales is the German classic Undine (1814), by Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Baron de la Motte Fouque. In this story of a water-spirit who married a mortal and gained a human soul there is a delicate fineness of craftsmanship which makes it notable in any department of literature and an easy naturalness which places it close to the genuine folk-myth." - H.P. Lovecraft


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