Mathilde Möhring

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The novel Mathilde Möhring is one of the most important texts from Theodor Fontane's estate. The first drafts and the first writing were made in 1891; between autumn 1895 and spring 1896 Fontane undertook the revision. The work remained unfinished and was published posthumously by Josef Ettlinger in 1906. A second version by Gotthard Erler followed in 1969, and in 2008 Gabriele Radecke finally presented a third text version. The novel is divided into 17 chapters, with chapters 9 to 11 being divided into sections a and b. The action takes place between October 1888 and October 1890 at the time of the German Empire .

Table of contents

In Mathilde Möhring, Fontane tells of the young, clever, practical and energetic, but unattractive, Mathilde Möhring, who lives with her mother in a small Berlin apartment on Georgenstrasse near the Friedrichstrasse train station . Mathilde's father, an accountant, has been dead for a few years, which is why the Möhrings regularly have to take in subtenants. At the beginning of the narrative, this is Hugo Großmann, a law student who is about to take his exams, but who prefers reading literary works to studying law and evening visits to the theater to visiting the university. Mathilde judged him correctly in this regard from the beginning, but still sees in him the possibility of getting out of her limited circumstances. She literally comes up with a plan to have a strong impact on the roommate, which she initially ignores, but after a certain time comes to the conclusion that "Thilde is the woman who suits him" (Chapter 8 ). He has noticed that she could be a pragmatic and ambitious counterpart to his dreamy and easy-going nature. And he wasn't wrong. Because as soon as she is sure of him in the form of an official engagement, she no longer lets him laze around, but ensures that he learns properly and regularly for his exam and that he finally passes it. Hugo is not entirely happy with this impetus from Mathilde, but on the other hand he also knows that he would not be able to do it without her. After he passed the first state examination in law, Mathilde continues to look after his career: She searches the daily newspapers until she comes across an advertisement in which the small town of Woldenstein is looking for a new mayor. Mathilde makes sure that her fiancé seizes this chance, and after everything is settled, they can get married. Mathilde Möhring, who comes from a small family, has blossomed into mayor's wife. And she continues to do well. Because Hugo is still dependent on her initiative, and thanks to her resourceful, prudent nature and her enormous ambition he succeeds in fulfilling his office successfully; It is always she who tells him in the background how to behave, and she also secures the goodwill of his superiors and other notables in the area.

But happiness didn't last long, because Hugo contracted severe pneumonia, which eventually led to consumption and cost him his life. Mathilde sees herself thrown back into her former social position, with a widow's pension , but not much better off than before the marriage. However, she quickly finds her way around again. She boldly decides to go back to Berlin and rejects Count Goschin's somewhat dubious offer to work for him as a housekeeper. She continues to live with her mother, but requires a certain amount of freedom. She does not mourn directly for her husband, but regrets that she went against his temperament so strongly, which overwhelmed him; because he was only apparently strong. On the other hand, she realizes that he, too, had a positive influence on her often petty thinking. She decides to take the teacher exam and passes it with great success. Then she takes on a job and is able to look after herself and her mother.

Origin and edition history

Fontane probably worked on Mathilde Möhring between January 1891 and spring 1896 with a few interruptions . The first concepts and drafts were created in January and February 1891; Fontane made the first draft in the summer of 1891, and in the winter of 1895 he undertook the revision. In the spring of 1896 Fontane finally broke off the work. There was no longer any publication during Fontane's lifetime. After Fontane's death, the Mathilde Möhring manuscript remained unnoticed in the estate until it was discovered and read by his wife Emilie. After reading it, she noted on a cover sheet of the manuscript: “Unfortunately not ready for printing. Read with emotion 31 Jan 01. The old Fontane ”. After Emilie Fontane's death it was published. The estate commission and above all Fontane's youngest son, the bookseller and publisher Friedrich Fontane, decided to entrust the journalist and editor Josef Ettlinger with the editing of the novel. After some negotiations, the novel appeared in the family magazine Die Gartenlaube in seven installments between November 1 and December 13, 1906. In 1907, preparations began for the volume From the estate of Theodor Fontane (edited by Josef Ettlinger), who with Mathilde Möhring was initiated. Ettlinger's Mathilde Möhring version was published unchanged in all Fontane editions until 1969.

Gotthard Erler presented a new edition by Mathilde Möhring as part of the eight-volume edition of “Novels and Stories”, which the Aufbau-Verlag under the direction of Peter Goldammer published on Fontane's 150th birthday in early September 1969 . While studying the manuscript, which is the property of the Berlin State Library , Erler noticed that Ettinger had edited Fontane's work on a large scale. He came to the conclusion "that the previously published text by 'Mathilde Möhring' is no longer philologically responsible and that there can be no talk of an alleged 'slight improvement', but of an adaptation [by Ettlinger]." Erler took it looked at the manuscript and found out that the novel, through Fontane's principle of order in inscribed paper envelopes, “is much more developed in its external structure than previously thought. […] ”In this way he eliminated the numerous reading errors and editors' additions to the first edition and largely restored Fontane's chapter division and the last sentence,“ Rebecca married ”.

In 2008 , Gabriele Radecke finally published a third Mathilde Möhring version as volume 20 of the “ Great Brandenburger Edition ” (section “The narrative work”) of the Aufbau Verlag , which for the first time consistently contained the features of the unfinished estate text handed down by the manuscript for the printed text and reproduces it in its historical form. Like the manuscript, the new edition now also contains numerous text disturbances - such as grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, the division of chapters 9 to 11 into subsections a and b, Fontane's author's comments and Fontane's duplicate formulations for a text passage. In addition, some reading errors in the Erler text version have been corrected. Radecke not only presents an edition by Mathilde Möhring developed according to scientific criteria , but also the first ever historical-critical edition of a Fontane text. The extensive commentary based on cultural history, historical book holdings, research, archival materials from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz , the Stadtmuseum Berlin and the Theodor Fontane Archive also contains a lot of previously unknown information about the origins of the text and the tradition - and printing history published for the first time, which differentiate and correct the previous results.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gabriele Radecke: Origin and edition history. In: Theodor Fontane, The narrative work, Vol. 20, Berlin 2008, pp. 151–180
  2. Gotthard Erler: Theodor Fontane, Romane und Erzählungen, Vol. 7, Berlin 1984, p. 622
  3. Gotthard Erler: Theodor Fontane, Romane und Erzählungen, Vol. 7, Berlin 1984, p. 620
  4. Gabriele Radecke: Appendix. In: Theodor Fontane, The narrative work, Vol. 20, Berlin 2008, pp. 129–425


  • From the estate of Theodor Fontane. Edited by Josef Ettlinger. Friedrich Fontane & Co., Berlin 1908
  • Theodor Fontane: Novels and Stories. Effi Briest. The Poggenpuhls. Mathilde Möhring. Editor: Gotthard Erler (novels and stories in eight volumes, vol. 7, edited by Peter Goldammer, Gotthard Erler, Anita Golz and Jürgen Jahn), Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1984 (1st edition 1969)
  • Theodor Fontane: Novels and Stories. Effi Briest. The Poggenpuhls. Mathilde Möhring. Editor: Gotthard Erler (novels and stories in eight volumes, volume 7), Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1993 (4th edition), ISBN 3-351-02258-1
  • Theodor Fontane: Mathilde Möhring. Newly edited from the manuscript. by Gabriele Radecke ( Large Brandenburger Edition. Ed. by Gotthard Erler, Das narrählerische Werk, Vol. 20), Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-351-03132-9
  • Theodor Fontane: Mathilde Möhring. Ed., Commented and with an afterword by Gabriele Radecke, Reclam, Ditzingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-15-019513-0

Audio book

Secondary literature

  • Hugo Aust: Mathilde Möhring . In: interpretations. Fontane's short stories and novels. Edited by Christian Grawe. Stuttgart 1991, pp. 275-295.
  • Sabina Becker: Departure into the 20th Century - Theodor Fontane's novel 'Mathilde Möhring'. Attempt to re-evaluate. In: Journal for German Studies NF 10 (2000), Issue 2, pp. 298-315.
  • Agni Daffa: Images of women in the novels Stine and Mathilde Möhring. Investigations on Fontane. Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-631-32861-3 .
  • Renate Gollmitz: Max Herrmann's corrections to the first edition by Mathilde Möhring (1908). In: Fontane Blätter 47 (1989), pp. 111-113.
  • Gabrielle Gross: The mother's envy of the daughter. A female area of ​​conflict with Fontane, Schnitzler, Keyserling and Thomas Mann. Lang, Bern et al. 2002, ISBN 3-906768-12-0 .
  • Gabriele Radecke: For a text-genetic edition by Theodor Fontanes Mathilde Möhring. In: Text genesis and interpretation. Edited by Adolf Haslinger et al., Stuttgart 2000, pp. 28-45.
  • Gabriele Radecke: interpreted findings and their representation in the constituted text. Editorial considerations on Theodor Fontane's Mathilde Möhring. In: Yearbook of the Jean Paul Society 41 (2006), pp. 179–203.
  • Gaston Raphaël: Mathilde Möhring de Theodor Fontane. In: Etudes Germaniques 3 (1948), pp. 297-303.
  • Simone Richter: Fontane's concept of education in “Frau Jenny Treibel” and “Mathilde Möhring”. Lack of heart formation as the reason for the failure of the bourgeoisie. VDM, Saarbrücken 2007, ISBN 978-3-8364-5010-2 .
  • Eda Sagarra: Mathilde Möhring. In: Fontane manual. Edited by Christian Grawe and Helmuth Nürnberger , Stuttgart 2000, pp. 679–690. (There further references)
  • Burkhard Spinnen: And everything without love. Theodor Fontane's timeless heroines. Frankfurt am Main 2019. pp. 101–110.
  • Harald Tanzer: Theodor Fontane's Berlin double novel - The Poggenpuhls and Mathilde Möhring. A narrative work of art between tradition and modernity. Paderborn 1997.
  • Monika Werner: Psychological and anthropological aspects of three female figures in Theodor Fontane's work (Effi Briest, Jenny Treibel and Mathilde Möhring). Berlin 2004.

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