Stine (Fontane)

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Theodor Fontane, 1890
photo by Julius Cornelius Schaarwächter

Stine is a novel written by Theodor Fontane between 1881 and 1888, which is set in Berlin during the early days .

He was in the 1889/1890 year of the magazine Germany. Pre-printed weekly for art, literature, science and social life . The first book edition appeared in April 1890 in the publishing house of his son Friedrich (Friedrich Fontane & Co., Berlin).

Stine is one of Fontane's realistic novels, which are devoted to the Brandenburg nobility and the Berlin petty bourgeoisie in an internally fragile time. As in his novel Irrungen, Verrungen , published in 1888, Fontane made the inhuman boundaries of the professional society the topic and triggered another scandal. Although this novel, as he wrote it to his critic friend Paul Schlenther , "viewed in the light (...) is even more harmless than errors, confusions", Stine was only able to appear in 1890.

To the formation

The remarkable creation time of around seven years describes Fontane's typical working style when writing epic texts. He often only worked on his novels and short stories in sporadic periods and in spurts and deliberately took breaks, sometimes over years, in which he devoted his creative power to other works. This was usually followed by a number of corrective actions and improvements.

From Fontane's letter to the publicist and writer Theodor Wolff in 1888, it can be understood that after Stine's early beginnings in 1881, various works followed and Fontane did not write the main chapters until 1885 in a real burst of work (up to the dialogue between the widow Pittelkow and Count Sarastro on End of the novella) and Stine completed it with another push in between in 1888 . In between he wrote, among other things, on " Irrungen, Wirrungen ", which appeared as a book edition two years earlier.
The rest of the time, however, from 1888 until the preprint in the magazine Deutschland. The weekly for art, literature, science and social life is due to the lack of acceptance of many critics and potential publishers for the new novella. On the one hand, the sensational and heavily criticized predecessor played an important role, which caused a lot of unpleasant criticism due to the explosive issue of the mesalliance between the nobility and the petty bourgeoisie and the moral majesty of the bourgeoisie compared to the nobility. This topic was taken up again in Stine and its effect was even reinforced.
But not only the social explosiveness played an inhibiting role, but also the poetic and literary quality, especially the design of the supposed main characters and their mutual love story. Due to the chronological order of appearance and the thematic parallels, Stine inevitably had to face the comparison with “ Irrungen, Verrungen ”.
Above all, the description of the character of Stine was criticized, but also the less detailed love affair between Stine and Waldemar, which was only brief compared to “ Irrungen, Wirrungen ”. Even Fontane became aware of this criticism and wrote in a letter to the publisher Paul Schlenther : "As a character, Stine lags far behind Lene and since she is the main heroine and gives the whole thing its name, the whole thing has to suffer from it." in another to Emil Dominik: "It is not as broad, broad a picture of the city and life as 'Irrungen, Wirrungen', but more energetic, more effective at a crucial point". However, the decision to use the name Stines as a book title, although Fontane's intention was not to put Stine in the foreground and to portray it as the main character, certainly caused confusion and false expectations. Fontane on this in the same letter: "The main character is not Stine, but her older sister: widow Pittelkow". Presumably this was one of the reasons why Stine couldn't stand up to the comparison with Magdalene Nimptsch.

Real background

A connection with real characters from Fontane's time, or real processes that could have served as inspiration (as is generally the case with his works), can be seen from the mention of the Königsmarckschen Palais or one of its residents in the twelfth chapter of the novel open up. Fontane visited the von Putlitz family's salon and was informed that Stephan Gans zu Putlitz , whose health was damaged by a riding accident shortly before his wedding, had committed suicide in the summer of 1883, although the family tried to cover up this incident and instead claimed it was an unfortunate duel.

Typically for Fontan, some names in the book have similarities with places or family names that occur in reality. The name of the Pittelkows' landlords, the Polzin family, is a well-known Berlin city name and a Pomeranian place name at the same time. The names Papageno and Sarastro from Mozart's opera “ The Magic Flute ” serve as sarcastic teasing names for the Count and the Baron . The last name Grützmacher of the old friend of Stine's sister Pauline resembled a popular name for a parade ground near Invalidenstrasse (where the Pittelkows lived) . Rehbein, the maiden name of Pauline Pittelkow, is the same as the name of a horse disease.


The action is dated August 1877 or 1878.


The young Ernestine Rehbein, called Stine, lives in simple, petty-bourgeois circumstances. She lives in a residential building at Invalidenstrasse 98e in Berlin, two floors above the apartment of her widowed sister Pauline, who has two children from two different men. At an evening dinner with which Pauline fulfills the duties of her liaison with old Count Haldern in a small company , Stine gets to know the sickly young Count Waldemar Haldern. He falls in love with Stine and begins to woo her by visiting her. Since her sister is suspicious of this connection, she advises Stine to be prudent so as not to get into talk about having an extramarital relationship with the count. Meanwhile, Count Haldern consults with his uncle about his plan to take Stine as his wife. He advises against it, as it would result in his family being ostracized. The young Count von Haldern is almost ready to take this risk. However, when Stine also refuses to accept her wedding, he commits suicide shortly afterwards. Stine travels to his funeral and returns to her sister with her.


First chapter: Introduction and description of the environment and living conditions of the Pittelkows as well as the first character drawings of the older sister Pauline.
Pauline Pittelkow, Count Sarastro's lover, receives a letter from him announcing himself. Pauline, who is still a beauty at just over thirty, prepares the evening and sends her daughter Olga with an invitation letter to her long-time friend, the theater actress Wanda Grützmacher.

Second chapter: Introduction and character description of Polzin's and Pauline's sister Ernestine Rehbein, who is usually just called Stine. Pauline goes to her sister Stine, who lives in the same house, and tells her about the count's letter. We learn that Count Sarastro is bringing his nephew Waldemar and Baron Papageno and that he wishes Wanda and Stine to attend this evening.

Third chapter: Introduction and character description by Wanda Grützmacher. Olga runs to Wanda with the invitation letter and hands it to her. Wanda accepts.

Fourth chapter: Description of Pauline's living conditions and explanations of her relationship with Wanda. Pauline is making the final preparations. Gradually all the guests arrive, first Wanda and then the three gentlemen. Eating together at the table and initial conversations between the protagonists, with Count Sarastro in particular leading the chats and directing the topic of conversation with intimacies and condescending allusions to Pauline and Wanda.

Fifth Chapter: The evening continues on the sofa and the mood becomes more and more exuberant. Count Sarastro, who continues to lead the conversations, is becoming more and more intimate and suggestive in his language. Furthermore, they all decide to put on a potato comedy. Wanda takes the lead and plays Judith from the Old Testament Holofernes material, which is based on the theme of the book, a tragic love game. The rest of the evening is spent playing cards and singing songs. The first signs of mutual affection can be seen in Stine and Count Waldemar.

Chapter six: The guests leave Pauline's apartment. Stine and her sister review the evening and talk about Wanda and the three gentlemen.

Seventh Chapter: Two days later Count Waldemar is on his way to visit Stine in her apartment. While he is standing in front of the door and Stine lets him in, the landlady Emilie Polzin observes the scene and gives an outlook on what is going to happen with her comment. It also gives a first allusion to Waldemar's weak and sickly state of health.

Eighth chapter: Long and meaningful dialogue between Stine and Waldemar. Stine, who assumes that Waldemar only visits her for the same reason as Count Sarastro Pauline, makes it clear that, unlike Pauline, she is a "decent girl". Waldemar also clarifies his intentions, which by no means coincide with those of his uncle. He was fascinated by Stine's behavior during the evening and wants nothing more than to help her to free her from her surroundings and her supposedly poor life. Furthermore, for the first time in the book, the reader learns a lot about the two characters, but also about Pauline's career (Stine tells Waldemar about it) and the justification of her lifestyle as a lover. Waldemar asks Stine if she would allow him to continue to visit her. She doesn't agree, but doesn't forbid the Count either. Later she regrets her hesitation and is reminded of her mother, who promised her on her deathbed that she would lead a "decent" life.
This time too, Emilie Polzin listened to the play and commented on her opinion of her husband.

Chapter ninth: Waldemar visits Stine more often now. In their conversations, the reader learns about the beautiful moments in Stine's simple life, but also about the rather tragic life of Waldemar, who suffered from his strict and dreary upbringing, his time in the regiment and his serious wounding in the war.

Chapter 10: Pauline visits Stine and they talk about Waldemar. Stine describes him as a good-hearted person, but without luck. He was never able to experience humanity, neither from his parents nor from his superiors and comrades. However, this is the opposite with Stine. That is why he is so fascinated by her and loves her. Pauline, on the other hand, tries to warn Stine and convince her that such a love affair is never good, especially if the heart plays along. Stine, despite all concerns, does not want to see the approaching misfortune coming and rejects it.

Chapter 11: Waldemar visits Papageno to ask him a favor. Waldemar has decided to hold Stine for her hand and start a new life with her. He knows that his parents will not agree to this step and will cast him out. Nevertheless, it is important to him that at least his uncle, Count Sarastro, show him a certain amount of understanding. He is supposed to play his lawyer, so to speak, who thereby grants Waldemar a little bit of family love. Waldemar wants to know from Papageno, who knows his uncle very well, whether Count Sarastro could be capable of this. Papageno, however, cannot give him an exact answer to his question. He knew Sarastro's volatile character and could just as easily imagine an approval as a refusal. However, that is enough to give Waldemar a small glimmer of hope. Furthermore, they both come up with a similar case in the past. A nobleman named Schwilow intended to marry a young ballet artist. Waldemar's uncle supported the young Schwilow's decision. The conversation continues over a few glasses of wine, and Papageno lets go of his indecision and encourages Waldemar to go to see his uncle.

Chapter 12: Waldemar, who is motivated by the conversation with Papageno, decides, uncharacteristically for him, not to postpone the visit to his uncle, but goes to him immediately afterwards. Waldemar tells of his intentions, and the uncle is shocked. He makes it clear to him that no matter what his opinion may be, he will stick to his intention of marrying Stine and emigrating to America for a new, simple life. The uncle refuses to give him his consent. Waldemar accepts it, but sticks to his decision. He leaves his uncle's apartment.

Chapter thirteen: Count Sarastro only now realizes the damage he has caused: He took Waldemar with him that evening and thus introduced him to Stine. If that came out, all the blame would fall on him. In a dialogue with himself, he blames Pauline for the whole misery. He is of the opinion that she allegedly instigated Stine to win Waldemar in order to marry into the family. Immediately he goes to Pauline and accuses her. After an argument with her, however, he realizes that Stine has a clear conscience and that Pauline was against this relationship from the start. Both decide to put an end to this by trying to get Stine out of Berlin under a pretext.

Chapter fourteenth: Pauline knows Stine's helpful character and, with Wanda's help, wants to get Stine out of town under a fake pretext in order to create a forced distance between the two lovers. Waldemar, on the other hand, is on the way to see Stine. He wants to surprise her with his intentions to marry her and lead a simple life with her in America. However, although she loves Waldemar, Stine knows that the two of them cannot have a future together because he is too weak and sickly for a simple, busy life. Furthermore, Stine realizes that the desire for the advantages of a noble life will catch up with Waldemar after some time full of privation. That alone will never make up for the love for Stine, and the relationship will fail. Waldemar asks Stine one last time, but she refuses to accept.

Chapter fifteen: The weak and dreamy character trait of Waldemar is made clear to the reader, because after some mental debauchery and sentimentality, Waldemar decides on his own suicide. He writes two farewell letters. One is addressed to his uncle, in which he absolves him of all guilt, but also expresses organizational wishes. The other letter is for Stine. He acknowledges Stine's behavior as correct and asks her to always think of him and to remember the beautiful moments of their brief relationship.

Chapter sixteenth: Description of Waldemar's burial in Groß-Haldern. Stine is there too. When she returns home, she is feverish and exhausted. Pauline receives her and speaks encouraging words to her. Ms. Polzin, who once again followed the whole situation with interest, answers her husband significantly when asked how Stine is: “Heil? What does heal mean? The [Stine] won't be back. "


Ernestine (Stine) Rehbein

As already mentioned, the title of the book may convey that Stine is the protagonist. Fontane, however, as often in other works and here in particular, focused on the supporting characters. Shortly after the publication of the book, Fontane wrote in a letter to Theodor Wolff: "... Pittelkow and the old Count are the main characters for me, and their portrayal was more important to me than the story."

But what do we learn from the story about Stine? An important indication of the position of the person Stine in the novel is that a detailed description of the person does not appear until chapter eight.
Nevertheless, Fontane already described her appearance as follows: "... but her hair was flax yellow, and the edges of the extremely friendly eyes were slightly reddened, which, of all the otherwise blooming appearance ... seemed to indicate a more delicate health." He further describes she: "... while the younger sister [Stine] can be regarded as the type of a Germanic, if somewhat ill-advised blonde." Fontane often used this type of tragic heroine, blond and pale in appearance, as a person morally innocent and with a clear conscience his novels.

The subsequent, rather casual conversation with her sister about her life as the lover of a count shows the moralistic point of view of Stine in the first instance. Stine answered Pauline's question without reproach: “But what should one live on in the end?” With the simple answer: “From work.” Fontane already gives a first indication of Stine's pure innocence, which the reader often sees in the course of the book should. For example during the Pittelkow Soiree . Even though Stine only appears as a negligible background person in this important section of the story - and as the main character of the tragic love story and the name of the book title at the same time - her trait is reflected here in some places. Right at the beginning of the evening, when everyone involved is introduced, Stine is the only one of the three women who is able to hear the hurtful part of the comedy. A comedy in which the Count follows a series of condescending intimacies and thus on the one hand shows a superiority based on his status at first glance, but thereby humanely degrades himself to the reader. Only Stine recognizes the game; an indication of an existing and particularly pronounced aversion to such spectacles.
Her innocent nature has to develop such a strong radiance even outwardly that even the eager Count Sarastro, who never tires of giving off suggestive allusions throughout the evening, does not dare to direct the topic of conversation to Stine: “Both intimacies [Sarastros and Papagenos] were directed exclusively at Wanda because they were somewhat shy of the two sisters, of the older [Pauline] for her unpredictable temperament, for the younger [Stine] for her innocence. "

If Fontane only draws Stine relatively vaguely until that evening, he dedicates himself to her all the more clearly in chapter eight. Before Waldemar can announce his intentions, she makes her opinion clear: “... and the life my sister leads does not seduce me; it just scares me off, and I'd rather torture myself and die in the hospital all my life than have old men around me every day. ”
In addition to this human idealization, there is another aspect: Fontane creates a petty bourgeoisie who can creates personal satisfaction through frugality and joy in small things and gestures. Stine speaks so openly and freely of personal happiness that even Waldemar is surprised. She explains her happiness as follows: “ I'm as good off as ordinary people who thank God when nothing happens to them. "

Fontane lets Stine swing back and forth between two poles to the end: on the one hand, the frugal, happy and morally steadfast in her, from which she can develop a kind of strength, but at the same time - especially in the external appearance - a weak, pale one and easily sickly mind; a kind of physical weakness as a counterpoint to human and spiritual strength. A counterpart that shows itself again at the end of the story: Although Stine shows spiritual strength by rejecting Waldemar's offer of marriage out of well-founded fears - although her heart is attached to him - her death, however, is physically very close. She comes back from the funeral pale and feverish to her sister, and the landlady Polzin gives the reader a terrifying and at the same time clear outlook: “Heil? What does heal mean? The [Stine] won't be back. "

Waldemar Haldern

Waldemar had to grow up under the most unfavorable conditions possible. After his mother died, he grew up with a stepmother who, frustrated by her marriage to his father, made him feel this. She had once received a love ticket from a grand duke and now imagined that she had entered into a bad marriage which forced her to live a desolate country life in the company of the simple country nobility . Waldemar had to experience these dissatisfaction. Presumably as a result of neglect, his younger brother, the biological son of his stepmother, was also preferred. For the sake of the house blessing, his father also refused to assert himself over his wife and take sides for his son. As a result, Stine told her sister: "... he has seen so few people and got to know so few people. ... but he didn't hear how people speak, he doesn't quite know. ”Waldemar's love affairs, the educational upbringing with a boring tutor and the life in the regiment never allowed him to experience the love and humanity that he felt Stine was able for the first time in his life.

This emotional wound was followed in the age of 19 by a severe physical injury that he suffered as a dragoon in the Franco-German War . A long and exhausting recovery prevented recovery and so his ailing overall condition intensified.

Whether it is Waldemar's very own personality, or how much his past has played a part in it, cannot be determined, but he is a person who has a strong tendency to romanticize. "I long to plant a tree or a colony of chickens or just to see a beehive swarming" is his wish, which he reveals to Stine when he tries to convince her to start a new life with him. A wish that shows the hard life illusory and hides its hard elements. Fontane reinforces Waldemar's character, whom he has known so far, and thus goes far beyond a realistic depiction by adding romantic elements to his tragic hero . One element is certainly the choice of the culminating moment of Waldemar's suicide.

The great dark shadow of his past does not want to leave him at the moment shortly before his death: He cannot kill himself with his revolver, because it reminds him too much of his war wound: "No, I'm scared of it, although I feel good, that it would be more befitting and more Haldernian. ”Fontane ironically shows that Waldemar does not have the strength enough to choose a death commensurate with his class, and thus once again has to accept disappointments on the part of his family.

Pauline Pittelkow

"It is important to me that my secondary characters are always the main thing, in Stine it is already certain that Pittelkow is much more important to me as a character than the whole story," Fontane wrote to Maximilian Harden . Fontane's predilection for portraying the Berliner is clearly evident here: He depicts a person who is a mixture of exaggerated temperament, direct and rough expression and superficial validity, but who nevertheless possesses a good heart; a possible version of a contemporary Berliner.

Her temperament is revealed to the reader right at the beginning of the story. “An outburst of anger also seemed to want to follow” after she tries to rebuke her daughter. She later shows her rough tone to her: “Stupid Jöhre! When I call you, come. You understand? ”Even Count Sarastro has to avoid her nimble and quick-tempered tongue, who actually takes pleasure in teasing his lover. In the course of the evening he refrains from making any further allusions to Pittelkow because he suspects that any further indecent word could make Pauline flare up again.

Pauline certainly cannot be ascribed an artistic understanding and yet she has her room decorated with artistic "stuff": two poorly colored lithographs (duck hunt and Tell chapel), as well as a darkened oil portrait of some unknown bishop, two pitiful plaster figures in Polish costume and some splendidly bound, rich ones Books by David Hume and Frederick the Great (which she probably only bought because of the appearance, instead of the content), next to them a stack of Berlin penny magazines . All of this is selected and arranged in such a grotesque way that the reader's tendency towards self-expression must be immediately clear. A self-portrayal of her supposed artistic understanding in this situation, or, elsewhere, a self-portrayal of herself: "She knows that she is still pretty, and has vanity and pleasure, which I [Stine] cannot absolve her [Pauline] of , a constant tormenting desire to put men in astonishment just to laugh at them afterwards. "

Ultimately, what remains in the core of her being is her good soul, which shows itself above all to those people who have grown dear to her. This can be clearly seen in her past: she bought herself and her first child out of a usual seduction story with a noblewoman who was unimportant to her with a “nice sum of money”. However, when she married her husband and he began to be ailing, she nursed him with everything she had (with the last nest egg) until his death.
Stine also recognizes Pauline's lovable way of dealing with her: "She loves me and is kind to me."

So Fontane tries to portray his Berlin figure, between guilt and innocence, harsh tone and kindness of heart, personal self-expression and genuine affection, which can gain more color than other similar figures.

Count Sarastro

What Pauline her Berlin coloring is to Count Sarastro is his noble one. In this book, Fontane has created a noble protagonist who shows his arrogance, and how he puts himself above the petty-bourgeois, more clearly and directly than any other of his similar protagonists before. The lifesaver in Pauline's distress knows how to tie her up in her dependency and shamelessly exploits it. So he plays his perfidious game with her when he wants, where he wants and especially how he wants, without paying attention to Pauline's self-esteem towards herself and the others.

At the beginning of the story, Pauline receives a letter or a self-invitation from the Count, who announces himself for this evening and prescribes organizational points. Pauline comments mockingly: “Old disgust. Always wrong. "

Skillfully playful in his language, vulgar in his statements, he shows himself at the table. The whole gathering is a game for him, a personal conversation and the ladies his toys, with which he can do as he pleases. He enjoys speaking with suggestive innuendos, and there is an air of cynicism in every sentence. So he celebrates Pauline with the exclamation "Long live my Moorish Queen, my Queen of the Night" and on the one hand reflects his disdain and on the other hand degrades her person to the others. But there are circumstances that can curb his impertinence: Pauline's temperament and Stine's innocence. However, this does not stop him from directing the intimacy to Pauline's friend, who then joins.

If Fontane shows the rank-related side of the count in the first half of the story, he later turns to another motif that is often used in his realistic novels: the divergence of what is spoken to action, the difference between moralizing language and immoral action. Baron Papageno remarks “that he is an absolutely unpredictable gentleman and is made up of sheer contradictions.” His opinions can turn from one extreme to the other: “He is ... over all ears in conceit and class prejudice, and yet it is quite possible that he is them kisses and hugs ... “predicts Baron Papageno Waldemar the possible reaction of the uncle to the marriage with the petty-bourgeois Stine. And although Count Sarastro was the only one to side with the scolded in a similar case (marriage of a nobleman with a ballet dancer), Waldemar nevertheless recognizes: "What applies to the Schwilows does not apply to the Halderns", or in general: "... the freer in theory, the more self-conscious in practice, the narrower and more anxious in applying it to one's own self. ”Waldemar is said to be right.

Invalidenstrasse scene - meaning for the novel

Map section of Invalidenstrasse in Berlin at the time of Fontane

Fontane wrote to Paul Schlenther : ... because it is a sickly sentimental world into which she [Stine], through her acquaintance with Waldemar, is placed. And so the sentimental language becomes the language of naturalness, because the piece of nature that is given here is a sickly nature. The Invalidenstraße offers this ailing nature and rubs off more or less on the health of some characters: less with Stine, but more with Waldemar.

With Invalidenstrasse, Fontane chose a location that consists of a mix of various buildings and urban facilities. It is the image of a wildly grown city, which was largely created during the period of industrialization. The long-distance train stations Lehrter Bahnhof , Stettiner Bahnhof and Hamburger Bahnhof are located on it , as well as the Invalidenfriedhof with graves of important military personnel ( Scharnhorst etc.). In the immediate vicinity there are some parade grounds (Wanda's surname is named after a parade ground) including barracks , as well as a prison. A number of mechanical engineering factories are lined up in addition to the many residential buildings .

The Szczecin train station on Invalidenstrasse 1903

Some of these city elements can offer the reader a clue to Waldemar's tragic outcome. For example, the Invalidenfriedhof , which is reserved only for the military who died in wars. Waldemar was wounded in the war and, although he did not die from his serious injuries, he never really recovered.
In addition, the Invalidenpark adjoining Invalidenstrasse is mentioned with a memorial dedicated to sailors from the ship “ Amazone ” who drowned in a storm in the North Sea. Waldemar later thinks: “A hundred or more, and I read their names once. It's touching; lots of young people. ”Waldemar himself is also still relatively young.

A rather unimportant character in the story, Pauline's older child Olga, initially walks along Chausseestrasse, which crosses Invalidenstrasse, and watches a funeral in this area with many cemeteries. This is followed by another funeral march and then a third, so that Olga no longer knows which funeral music to listen to. At the end of the story, Stine attends Waldemar's funeral.

Stine - a realistic novel?

Fontane takes up the same motifs in this novel that he used in his predecessors Irrungen, Wirrungen and Cécile . It shows the inner, fragile world of the nobility - conveyed through action and language - which the nobility propagates outwardly but does not live inside. But by pointing out the fragile norms as well as the deadly narrowness of the aristocratic life, he does not simply continue his work as a writer, but this time he conveys his criticism more clearly and unabashedly.

Fontane therefore uses many realistic elements in his novel, but without consistently enforcing it. Because romanticizing moments can be found again, which until then did not appear in his Berlin city stories in this obvious use.
This can be clearly seen in Waldemar's résumé. He had had a consistently hard life without ever knowing humanity and love. If one looks at all the setbacks and disappointments and adds them up, the reader experiences a picture of a nobleman whose painful moments are very numerous, perhaps a little too numerous: a stepmother who loathed him, a father who does not stand up for his son wanted, a head of house who constantly tormented him with commandments and Bible verses, comrades in his time in the regiment who never became true friends, a severe wound and a recovery with severe physical after-effects. In addition, no moments in which he was ever allowed to experience love and humanity.
From the literary exaggeration of his unhappiness follows a character who is weak and regrets his life. He dreams of a new beginning far away and believes he has found a woman in Stine with whom he can lead a simple but happy life far away, without considering the difficulties that inevitably arise due to his poor state of health . He idealizes.
Also unusual for Fontane's realistic works, he chooses a very tragic ending for Waldemar. Waldemar's suicide fits well with his character and gives his portrayal a logical and consistent conclusion, but not the portrayal of his realistic subjects .

In his novels, Fontane often connected his protagonists with real people and was inspired by their life stories. That is not the case with "Stine" as far as one can judge it today. Neither a lifelike counterpart for Stine nor Waldemar are known. And so the protagonists arise from the pure imagination of Fontane, of whom even some - what Fontane himself described as fitting jokes - receive names that come from the Magic Flute: the count and the baron. In doing so, Fontane succeeds in exposing the two people to the reader of unbelievability and a bit of ridicule simply by choosing a name, but he distances himself a bit from a realistic and lifelike depiction of the characters.

“Stine” certainly has many realistic motifs, but Fontane is not stringent in this work and differs a little from his predecessors. It is, as Fontane writes to Theodor Wolff : "It is so with regard to the mixture of the romantic and the realistic."

"Stines" meaning for the writer Fontane

With this book Fontane closed the chapter of the Berlin novel writing including mesalliances , which he opened with Cécile and continued with errors and confusions. In the end, a novel was created that used the same motifs as its predecessors, but emphasized them more clearly and thus dealt with its criticism more openly. One reason why this novel was as heavily criticized as its predecessor and stayed in the drawer for a long time. It is true that he remarked, “When seen in the light, it is even more harmless than“ Errungen, Verrungen ”, because there is not even a country party with night quarters. And that's what the real crime boils down to! ”But it was not just the country trip, including night quarters, that caused so much excitement in the confusion and confusion. The moral grandeur of the petty bourgeoisie and the fragile value system of the nobility, which Fontane addressed in his successor, was just as provocative. And with this tendency he wrote “Stine”, just much more courageously and obviously.

With “Stine”, Fontane created a very stringent book, without much ado and horse riding in side incidents. Each chapter advances the story decisively and the characters are adequately described. And that was precisely another point of criticism.
For reasons already mentioned, “Stine” had to face the comparison with “ Irrungen, Verrungen ” and consequently could not withstand the stringency of the comparison. Striking scenes, such as the country party, which gave the atmosphere but also the love story of Lene and Botho a long delay, did not occur and additional scenes that could have portrayed the characters more clearly and in more detail were not available. Above all, Stine couldn't stand up to Lene, precisely because of her not so strong and loving character. But only because Fontane always wanted his people to speak in their responsible languages. “And now this Stine speaks in the Stine style instead of the Lene style. Why? I think to myself because it is an ailing sentimental world into which she is put through the acquaintance with Waldemar. ”And that was precisely what made her appear not as strong, not as charming as Lene.

Fontane probably did not enjoy the novel, precisely because nobody wanted to publish it for a long time. He was not too presumptuous, not to want to see that his story also had some weak points. In a letter to Paul Schlenther , Fontane wrote: “… it is also not necessary that one thing succeeds in all its parts. It is only desirable. ”And yet:“ If this wish does not come true, and this is the rule, and even the great and the greatest are subject to this law, then one must be satisfied when the painstakingly and lovingly created the Correction of existence is awarded. That's a lot, and that's what I achieved with my Stine. ”And he always did.
Fontane created a work whose love story has to stretch far behind many others and also the romantic elements of this story take the whole thing a bit of the credibility, but with Stine he creates a realistic and more likely image of a petty bourgeoisie. And the alleged secondary characters are also characterized by a great deal of attention to detail: Pittelkow, who is particularly noticeable because of their language, and Count Sarastro, who like no other nobleman in Fontane's stories shows the condescending and mendacious so clearly.


  • Theodor Fontane: Stine . Edited by Christine Hehle. Berlin 2000 (Great Brandenburg Edition, The Narrative Work, Vol. 11)

Film adaptations

So far, Stine has been filmed three times:

  1. "The old song" (also under the titles: "My heart belongs to you"; "Experience of a great love"), Germany 1945
    Literary templates: "Stine"; "Trials and tribulations"
    Director: Fritz Peter Buch
    Script: Gerhard T. Buchholz , Fritz Peter Buch
    Actors: Winnie Markus (Stine), Ernst von Klipstein (Graf Haldern), Lotte Koch , Grethe Weiser , Hannes Kappler (Franke)
  2. "Stine", FRG / ZDF 1967
    Director: Wilm ten Haaf
    Screenplay: Traugott Krischke
    Actors: Ilse Ritter (Stine), Maria Körber (Pauline Pittelkow), Richard Rüdiger (Waldemar von Haldern)
  3. " Stine ", GDR / GDR television 1979
    Director: Thomas Langhoff
    Script: Thomas Langhoff, Annelore Habeck (scenario)
    Actors: Simone Frost (Stine), Matthias Günther (Waldemar), Jutta Wachowiak (Pauline), Albert Hetterle (Graf von Haldern), Heide Kipp (Wanda), Käthe Reichel (Mrs. Polzin), Fritz Marquardt (Mr. Polzin)

Fontane's writings

  • Theodor Fontane: Stine . With an afterword, edited by Helmuth Nürnberger . dtv, 2005
  • Theodor Fontane: trials and tribulations . With an afterword, edited by Helmuth Nürnberger. dtv, 1998
  • Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters Section 4, 5 vols. Letters. Carl Hanser, 1980


  • Hugo Aust: Theodor Fontane: "Transfiguration". An investigation into the ideas content of his works . 1974, pp. 161-188.
  • Gerhard Friedrich: The widow Pittlekow . In: Fontane-Blätter , 3, 1974, H. 2, pp. 109-124.
  • Henry Garland: The Berlin novels of Theodor Fontane . Oxford 1980, pp. 128-139.
  • Christian Grawe: Stine . In: Christian Grawe, Helmuth Nürnberger (ed.): Fontane-Handbuch , 2000, pp. 594–601.
  • Kenneth Hayern: Theodor Fontane. A critical study . London 1920, pp. 221-234.
  • GH Hertling: Theodor Fontanes Stine: a disenchanted Magic Flute? On the idea of ​​humanity at the end of two centuries . Bern / Frankfurt 1982.
  • Cordula Kahrmann: Idyll in a novel: Theodor Fontane . 1973, pp. 116-123.
  • Edith H. Krause, Steven V. Hicks: Illusion and Dissolution: Fontane's "Stine" . In: German Studies Review (Tempe, Ariz.) 18, 1995, 2, pp. 223-240.
  • Ingrid Mittenzwei : Language as a topic. Investigations into Fontane social novels . 1970, pp. 110-116.
  • Walter Müller-Seidel: Theodor Fontane. Social novel art in Germany . 1975, pp. 270-284.
  • Hans-Heinrich Reuter: "Freifrau" or "Froufrou". On a misread reading error in F's story Stine . In: Weimarer Contributions , 9, 1963, pp. 156–158.
  • Hans-Heinrich Reuter: Fontane . 2 Vol. 1968, pp. 671-676.
  • Jost Schillemeit: Theodor Fontane. Spirit and art of his old work . 1961, pp. 47-57.
  • J. Thunecke: Philosophical echoes in Fontane's “Stine” . In: forms of realistic narrative art , 1979, pp. 505–525.
  • Lieselotte Voss: Literary Prefiguration of Depicted Reality in Fontane . 1985, pp. 164-177.
  • Conrad Wandrey: Theodor Fontane . 1919, pp. 235-245.
  • P. Wessels: Appearance and decency. On Fontane's novel “Stine” . In: forms of realistic narrative art , 1979, pp. 490–504.

Web links

References and comments

  1. a b Selection Erler, Vol. 2, p. 198
  2. ^ Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 3, p. 159.
  3. ^ Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 4, p. 37f.
  4. a b c d Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 3, p. 610f.
  5. a b Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 3, p. 578.
  6. ^ Elisabeth von Heyking: Diaries from four parts of the world . Koehler & Amelang, 1925, chap. 2
  7. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . With an afterword edited by Helmuth Nürnberger. 3. Edition. dtv, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-423-13374-0 , p. 100 f. and 124 f.
  8. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 114
  9. a b Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 116
  10. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 115
  11. Martin Lowsky: The little novel "Stine" - poor or great? Epilogue to the edition in the Hamburg Reading Booklet , No. 232. Husum 2012, ISBN 978-3-87291-231-2 , pp. 80–82
  12. a b Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 95
  13. a b Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 4, pp. 45f.
  14. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 13
  15. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 14
  16. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 28
  17. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 38
  18. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 40
  19. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 49
  20. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 82
  21. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 87
  22. ^ Theodor Fontane: Works, Writings, Letters, Section 4, Vol. 4, p. 57 f.
  23. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 8
  24. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 42
  25. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 43
  26. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 8
  27. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 26
  28. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 56
  29. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 57
  30. a b Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 59
  31. ^ Theodor Fontane: Stine . dtv, 2005, p. 45
  32. Fontane-Filmographie ( Memento of the original dated August 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ( PDF ) on the website of the Theodor Fontane Archive Potsdam , as of January 1999 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /