Polish Title

Cécile – starsza siostra Effi Briest

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8108-678X Pacholski Jan


This paper deals with Theodor Fontane’s novel Cecile published in 1886. This novel is the first part of the unofficial trilogy of the so-called Berlin novels, which also include Irrungen, Wirrungen (Trials and Tribulations, On Tangled Paths) and Stine. Among these three novels, Cecile is the only one which has not been translated into Polish. In each of these novels, the central motif is misalliance, which in two cases (Cecile and Stine) leads to a tragic end. The motif of a duel, in turn, in which the husband kills the lover or the admirer of the heroine links Cecile to Effi Briest – the most famous of Theodor Fontane’s works. This article attempts to interpret the novel in the context of the similarities between Cecile and Emma Bovary, the protagonist of the masterpiece by Gustave Flaubert and from the perspective of bovarysme –a term coined by Jules de Gaultier. In the analysis, what is important is not only the characterization of Cecile as a character but also the discussion of the role of a letter in the plot of the novel, a letter being a motif used by Fontane in an interesting and surprising way.

Polish Abstract



Theodor Fontane, Berlin novels, Cécile, Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, bovarysme


Bontrup Hiltrud, „… auch nur ein Bild”. Krankheit und Tod in ausgewählten Texten Theodor Fontanes, Argument-Verlag, Hamburg 2000.

Böschenstein Renate, Verborgene Facetten. Studien zu Fontane, Verlag Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2006 (Fontaneana, Bd. 6).

Flaubert Gustave, Pani Bovary, przekł. R. Engelking, wyd. 2 zm., Wydawnictwo Sic!, Warszawa 2014.

Fontane Theodor, Cécile, w: Theodor Fontane, Sämtliche Werke, hrsg. von E. Groß, K. Schreinert, R. Bachmann, Ch. Jolles, J. Neuendorff-Fürstenau, Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, München 1959–1975 [»Nymphenburger Fontane-Ausgabe«], IV [L’Adultera, Cecile, Die Poggenpuhls, 1959], s. 127–284.

Gaultier Jules de, Le Bovarysme. La psychologie dans l’oeuvre de Flaubert, Librairie Léopold Cerf, Paris 1892.

Nottinger Isabel, Fontanes Fin de Siècle. Motive der Dekadenz in „L’Adultera“, „Cécile“ und „Der Stechlin“, Verlag Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2003.

Nürnberger Helmuth, Theodor Fontane in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968.

Pacholski Jan, Theodor Fontane. Z apteki na Parnas, Quaestio, Wrocław 2014 (Wydanie specjalne „Orbis Linguarum”, t. 108).

Zuberbühler Rolf, „Ja, Luise, die Kreatur“. Zur Bedeutung der Neufundländer in Fontanes Romanen, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1991 (Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte, Bd. 60).

First Page


Last Page






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.