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A Prussian in Victorian London

There are countless factual and fictional accounts of life in Victorian England, but not many by foreigners, and few as engaging and entertaining as these sketches by the German novelist Theodor Fontane, written when he lived in London for publication in German periodicals. He casts a discerning eye on the street scene, the buildings (including the Crystal Palace, then still standing), politics, commerce and banking, and much more. He was entertained by a number of Londoners in their homes and made many friends. Fontane likes England and the English and writes about them with affection and gentle amusement. Though he was a native of Prussia, anyone less like the usual image of the Prussian is hard to imagine. This highly readable account of London life casts an interesting side-light on the nineteenth-century English scene, and will appeal to both the historian and the general reader.

 

Theodor Fontane, 1819 - 1898, journalist, novelist and poet, was arguably the most important German writer of the 19th C. realist movement. He is best known for his novels, such as Effi Briest, which has been favourably compared with Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. In London in the 1850s he wrote articles on English life and mores for publication in the German press. They were later collected and published under the title Ein Sommer in London, on which this translation is largely based. About the translator John Lynch taught himself Danish and German, and later obtained the degree of BA in these languages at the University of Newcastle. He has taught English in Danish and German schools and has also worked in Sweden and Iceland. After studying at the University of East Anglia, he was awarded the degree of MA in Scandinavian Studies. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship and his varied career included a spell as a college tutor librarian in Banbury.

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