A moving love story and a vivid depiction of Berlin in the 1870s, from Germany's greatest nineteenth-century novelist Theodor Fontane.
Lene is a beautiful, orphaned young seamstress, and Botho is a handsome, aristocratic cavalry officer. They are in love, yet know they have only a short time together as society deems their relationship impossible and refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of their feelings. But while Botho appears to have a glittering life ahead of him, the love he feels may yet be his undoing. Published in 1887, On Tangled Paths caused a scandal on publication with its portrayal of a sexual affair across the classes, and is a taut, flawless masterpiece.
Theodor Fontane was born in the Prussian province of Brandenburg in 1819. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he made his living as a writer. From 1855 to 1859, he lived in London and worked as a freelance journalist and press agent for the Prussian embassy. While working as a war correspondent during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1 he was taken prisoner, but released after two months. His first novel, Before the Storm, was published when he was fifty-eight and was followed by sixteen further novels, of which Effi Briest, No Way Back and On Tangled Paths are all published in Penguin Classics. He died in 1898.
Peter James Bowman completed a PhD on Fontane at Cambridge University, and now works as a writer and translator.
'On Tangled Paths has the flawless logic and beautiful design of the novella at its best' - Paul Binding, The Spectator
'There is an undertow of sadness to this novel, yet to read it is a joy, for its humanity, subtlety and visual immediacy' - Ruth Pavey, The Independent
'Theodor Fontane's first true masterpiece; it has a perfect beginning, a perfect ending, and no superfluous sentence in between' - Henry Garland