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Undine (novella)

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Title: Undine (novella)  
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Subject: Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Ondine (play), Sonata Undine, Undine (disambiguation), Infobox ballet
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Undine (novella)

Cover of Undine
Author Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Country Germany
Language German
Genre Novella
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Undine is a fairy-tale novella (Erzählung) by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in which Undine, a water spirit, marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. It is an early German romance, which has been translated into English and other languages.


  • Success and influence 1
  • Adaptations 2
    • Opera 2.1
    • Music 2.2
    • Ballet 2.3
    • Film 2.4
    • Literature 2.5
    • Art 2.6
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Success and influence

During the nineteenth century the book was very popular and was, according to The Times in 1843, "a book which, of all others, if you ask for it at a foreign library, you are sure to find engaged".[1] The story is descended from Melusine, the French folk-tale of a water-sprite who marries a knight on condition that he shall never see her on Saturdays, when she resumes her mermaid shape. It was also inspired by works by the occultist Paracelsus.[2]

An unabridged English translation of the story by [3] while Lafcadio Hearn referred to Undine as a "fine German story" in his essay "The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction".[4] The references to Undine in such works as Charlotte Yonge's The Daisy Chain and Louisa Alcott's Little Women show that it was one of the best loved of all books for many 19th-century children.

The first adaptation of Undine was E.T.A. Hoffmann's opera in 1814. It was a collaboration between E.T.A. Hoffman, who composed the score, and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué who adapted his own work into a libretto. The opera proved highly successful, and Carl Maria von Weber admired it in his review as the kind of composition which the German desires: 'an art work complete in itself, in which partial contributions of the related and collaborating arts blend together, disappear, and, in disappearing, somehow form a new world'.[5][6]

In the 1830s, the novella was translated into Russian dactylic hexameter verse by the Romantic poet Vasily Zhukovsky. This verse translation became a classic in its own right and later provided the basis for the libretto to Tchaikovsky's operatic adaptation. The novella has since inspired numerous similar adaptions in various genres and traditions.


Fanny Cerrito dances the Pas de l'ombre in the original production of Ondine. London, 1843




Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872.




Ondine de Spa by Pouhon Pierre-Le-Grand.


  1. ^ Au, Susan (1978). "The Shadow of Herself: Some Sources of Jules Perrot's "Ondine"". Dance Chronicle (Taylor & Francis, Ltd) 2 (3): 160.  
  2. ^ Strong, George Templeton. "Ondine • Suites Nos. 1 - 3". Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  3. ^ George Macdonald, "The Fantastic Imagination" in Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, Fantasists on Fantasy. New York: Avon Discus, 1984. pp. 11-22.
  4. ^ Lafcadio Hearn, "The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction" in Jason Colavito, ed. A Hideous Bit of Morbidity: An Anthology of Horror Criticism from the Enlightenment to World War I. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. (p. 275 ).
  5. ^ Strunk, Oliver (1965). Source Readings in Music History: The Romantic Era. New York. p. 63. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  6. ^ Castein, Hanne (2000). "The Composer as Librettist: Judith Weir's 'Romantic' Operas Heaven Ablaze in His Breast and Blond Eckbert". Aurifex (1). Retrieved 2008-05-10. 

External links

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