From twenty to thirty

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First edition with a portrait of Fontane

From twenty to thirty is the title of Theodor Fontane's second autobiographical work, which came out in 1898 - the last year of his life. It reaches far beyond the decade of life he describes in the title. Several times he follows on from his childhood memories Meine Kinderjahre , the presentation of which extended up to the age of 12, and, as the need to describe his relationship to a person requires, he also reaches deep into his eighth decade. Formally, however, the band ended with his wedding in 1850.

This work, composed of quite differently elaborated autobiographical and biographical studies, has clear references to Effi Briest and Stechlin . Perhaps particularly striking are the similarities between Theodor Storm's haunted stories in From Twenty to Thirty and Innstetten, to which Hans-Heinrich Reuter already referred . They are particularly noticeable because the characters are so different. The Storm chapter, in its combination of commitment to the poet and open criticism of the person, is perhaps the most impressive example of the honesty that Fontane permitted and demanded.

The chapter on the revolution shows the attitude of old Fontane during his semi-revolutionary Sturm und Drang period quite clearly.


  • Preface
  • Berlin 1840: Rosesche Apotheke, Berliner Literaturvereine (see literary group # 19th century : Lenau-Verein with Hermann Maron and Julius Faucher , Platen-Verein)
  • "I praise my Leipzig": Leipziger Zeit and Herwegh-Klub (see literary group # 19th century )
  • With "Kaiser Franz": military service
  • The tunnel over the Spree: see " Tunnel over the Spree "
  • Fritz, Fritz, the bridge is coming: engagement, Jungsche pharmacy
  • The eighteenth of March: Revolution in Berlin 1848
  • In Bethanien: pharmaceutical lessons for deaconesses
  • In the port: writers and marriage
    • The last sentence, of course, refutes the chapter heading: "As already indicated, I thought I was in the harbor and was now on a stormy sea again."


  • First book edition: Theodor Fontane. From twenty to thirty. Autobiographical. F. Fontane & Co., Berlin 1898, 679 pp.

The text has been published in numerous editions. A critical and commented new edition, which presents the text again in its historical form for the first time , has been prepared by Wolfgang Rasch at the Göttingen Theodor Fontane office as part of the Great Brandenburg Edition .

Research literature

  • Friedrich Fontane: "From twenty to thirty." Supplements based on unprinted sources. In: Ruppiner Kreiskalender. Vol. 20, 1930, pp. 81-89.
  • Helmuth Nürnberger : Autobiographical writings and testimonies. In: Christian Grawe, Helmuth Nürnberger (ed.): Fontane manual. Kröner, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 748-763, ISBN 3-520-83201-1 .
  • Gabriele Radecke : Theodor Fontanes: From twenty to thirty - on the edition and interpretation of the autobiographical work. Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg 2020, ISBN 978-3-947215-33-1 .

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