Undine - George Upton

This famous German romance is based on 18th century story of a water spirit who marries a human in order become mortal. It is full of mischief, treachery, and drama. It was made into a very popular Opera by Hoffman and was emblematic of the 19th century rebirth of German romantic culture.

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[Book Cover] from Undine by George Upton
Huldbrand and Undine.


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Translator's Preface

Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Baron de la Motte Fouque, was born at Brandenburg, Germany, February twelve, 1777. As his name indicates, he was of French extraction. In his earlier years he served in the army with distinction. About the year 1804 he devoted himself to literature, and thereafter produced a great number of plays, poems, and romances. The year 1813 found him in the army again, and he narrowly escaped with his life at the battle of Lutzen. Being disabled by accident for further service, he was honorably discharged and presented with a decoration. He delivered lectures upon history and poetry for a time, and it was while on a lecturing tour in 1843 that he died suddenly. Fouque belonged to the romance school of Theodor Hoffmann, Tieck, Jean Paul Richter, and others and became one of its most famous representatives. The Magic Ring, Theodolf, Aslaugas Ritter, and Algin and Jucunda are among his famous romances; but Undine is the best known and most exquisite of all, and is counted as his masterpiece. The material employed in it is fantastic. He takes the reader through enchanted forests and among mysterious gnomes and sprites. The malicious Kuhleborn, the quaint old fisherman and his dame, good Father Heilmann, the worldly Bertalda, the gallant but fickle Huldbrand, are characters full of interest; but most beautiful and lovely in her supernatural form of watersprite, and afterwards in the suffering wife when she had found a soul, is Undine. Few characters in romance have surpassed it in grace, refinement, and poetical beauty. It merits a place in the Life Stories, for, after all, is not Undine semi-human?

G. P. U.

CHICAGO, May 1, 1908.

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