Quitt (Fontane)

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Quitt is a novel by Theodor Fontane . The work was created between 1885 and April 1889. In 1890 the heavily abbreviated and edited preprint was made in Die Gartenlaube (No. 1–6). The first book edition appeared in November 1890 (imprint 1891) at the Besser'schen Buchhandlung ( Wilhelm Hertz ), Berlin.


The action begins in Wolfshau near Krummhübel in the Silesian Giant Mountains in the 1870s . The 27-year-old wheelwright Lehnert Menz, a proud and easily irritable young man, struggles with the authoritarian order in the state and society of Prussia. He reads liberal papers and has vague ideas of a liberal republic which he believes will be realized in "happy America", about which he has a book, in which he often reads. His neighbor, the Count's Forester Opitz, a haughty, narrow-minded and revered mid-thirties, is for him not only the embodiment of the Prussian state, but also his personal enemy, who persecutes him with irreconcilable hatred because he denies him submission and deference which Opitz believes to have a claim as a count's forest clerk. Menz was harassed by Opitz during the Franco-Prussian War and deprived of the Iron Cross award he deserved . After the war, Opitz reported him for poaching and had him sentenced to two months in prison. When he threatens to report him again because of a triviality, the hatred that has also pent up on Menz's side finally breaks through: he shoots his opponent down during a night encounter in the mountains. Opitz is bleeding to death in agony. Since there are no eyewitnesses to the crime, Menz hopes to sit out the matter. But after the evidence has increased, the only way he can escape his immediate arrest is through a tricky escape. He left his homeland and emigrated to North America , where he made a fortune as a gold digger and then lost it again. Finally he was accepted into "Nogat-Ehre", a settlement founded by Mennonites of German descent in the Indian Territory . There he lives and works as a manager on the farm of the community leader Obadja Hornbostel, under whose roof a diverse society lives peacefully, including the former Paris communard Camille L'Hermite, with whom Lehnert becomes friends. Through his personality and his hard work he earned the respect and appreciation of his housemates and their head. Plagued by his conscience, he confesses his murder to Obadja Hornbostel and joins the Mennonite community. When he was about to marry Obadja's daughter Ruth, he had an accident in the wilderness while looking for the son of the house, Tobias Hornbostel, who was missing on a hunting trip, and died as slowly and painfully as Opitz. And like him, he leaves a piece of paper on which he wrote down his last thoughts: The repeated request for forgiveness, the hope of redemption and that he will now be "even" with Opitz, ie. H. atoned for his act with his own death. He is buried in the Hornbostel family crypt. On the same day Obadja Hornbostel wrote a letter to Lehnert's home parish with the news of his death.

The plot, as far as it takes place in the Riesengebirge (Chapters 1–16, 37), is flanked by a sketchy side story about the Berlin accountant Espe and his family, who are holiday guests in Krummhübel and who follow the Opitz murder on the sidelines. Espe represents the relentless perspective of the Prussian order, while his wife Geraldine and her companion, a court assessor with the speaking name Dr. Sophus Unverdorben, represented a human view of the events and in particular of Lehnert Menz.


  • Theodor Fontane: Quitt . Novel. Edited by Christina Brieger. Berlin 1999 (Great Brandenburg Edition, The Narrative Work, Vol. 12)


  • Arthur Davis: Theodor Fontane's Interest in America as Revealed by his novel 'Quitt'. In: The American-German Review . 19. (1952/53), p. 28 ff.
  • Hans-Heinrich Reuter : criminal history, humanistic utopia and didactic piece. Theodor Fontane, 'Quitt' . In: Sense and Form . 23 (1971), pp. 1371-1376
  • Fritz K. Richter: Theodor Fontane's Silesian novel 'Quitt' . In: Yearbook of the Silesian Friedrich Wilhelm University in Breslau . 19: 188-197 (1978)
  • Christian Grawe: Quitt . In: the same (ed.): Fontane's short stories and novels . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1991; Universal Library No. 8415 [4] ISBN 3-15-008416-4 , pp. 157-184
  • Eckart Pastor, "Quitt" or not? Theodor Fontane's controversial Mennonite novel; in: Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter, edited by the Mennonitisches Geschichtsverein, 69th year, 2012, pp. 73–92.
  • James N. Bade: “A Painted Landscape”? The American landscapes in Theodor Fontane's novel “Quitt”, in: Theodor Fontane: Dichter und Romancier. His reception in the 20th and 21st centuries, ed. v. Hanna Delf von Wolhaben and Richard Faber, Würzburg, Königshausen and Neumann (2015), pp. 107–139.

Individual evidence

  1. Wikisource: Quitt  - sources and full texts

Web links