Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué (12 February 1777 – 23 January 1843) was a German writer of the Romantic style.

Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué in Husarenuniform
Born12 February 1777
Brandenburg an der Havel, Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, Holy Roman Empire
Died23 January 1843 (aged 65)
Berlin, Prussia, Germany
OccupationWriter, novelist
Literary movementGerman romanticism
Notable worksUndine


He was born at Brandenburg an der Havel, of a family of French Huguenot origin, as evidenced in his family name. His grandfather, Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué, had been one of Frederick the Great's generals and his father was a Prussian officer. Although not originally intended for a military career, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué ultimately gave up his university studies at Halle to join the army, and he took part in the Rhine campaign of 1794. The rest of his life was devoted mainly to literary pursuits. He was introduced to August Wilhelm Schlegel, who deeply influenced him as a poet ("mich gelehret Maß und Regel | Meister August Wilhelm Schlegel") and who published Fouqué's first book, Dramatische Spiele von Pellegrin, in 1804.


Fouqué's first marriage was unhappy and soon ended in divorce. His second wife, Caroline Philippine von Briest (1773–1831), enjoyed some reputation as a novelist in her day. After her death Fouqué married a third time. Some consolation for the ebbing tide of popular favour was afforded him by the munificence of Frederick William IV of Prussia, who granted him a pension which allowed him to spend his later years in comfort. He died in Berlin in 1843.

For Fouqué's life see Lebensgeschichte des Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (only to the year 1813), Aufgezeichnet durch ihn selbst (Halle, 1840), and also the introduction to Koch's selections in the Deutsche Nationalliteratur.

Literary work

Romantic roots

After Dramatische Spiele von Pellegrin, his second work, Romanzen vom Tal Ronceval (1805), showed more plainly his allegiance to the romantic leaders, and in the Historie vom edlen Ritter Galmy (1806) he versified a 16th-century romance of medieval chivalry.

Sigurd der Schlangentödter, ein Heldenspiel in sechs Abentheuren (1808), was the first modern German dramatization of the Nibelung legend combining Icelandic sources such as the Volsunga Saga and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. The play and its two sequels Sigurds Rache (1809) and Aslauga (1810) were published together under the title Der Held des Nordens in 1810. The trilogy brought Fouqé to the attention of the public, and had a considerable influence on subsequent versions of the story, such as Friedrich Hebbel's Nibelungen and Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

These early writings indicate the lines which Fouqué's subsequent literary activity followed; his interests were divided between medieval chivalry on the one hand and northern mythology on the other. In 1813, the year of the rising against Napoleon, he again fought with the Prussian army, and the new patriotism awakened in the German people left its mark upon his writings.

Popular works

Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale ... of all fairytales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful. (George MacDonald, The Fantastic Imagination)

Between 1810 and 1815, Fouqué's popularity was at its height; the many romances and novels, plays and epics which he produced with extraordinary rapidity, appealed greatly to the mood of the hour. Undine appeared around 1811, the only work by which Fouqué's memory still lives today. A more comprehensive idea of his talent may, however, be obtained from the two romances Der Zauberring (1813) and Die Fahrten Thiodolfs des Isländers (1815).

Later years

From 1820 onwards the quality of Fouqué's work deteriorated, partly owing to the fatal formal ease with which he wrote, and he failed to keep pace with the changes in German taste by clinging to the paraphernalia of romanticism. His rivals applied a sobriquet of "Don Quixote of Romanticism" to him.


Most of Fouqué's works have been translated. Menella Bute Smedley, for instance, translated his ballad, "The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains." The English versions of Aslauga's Knight (by Thomas Carlyle), Sintram and his Companions and Undine have been frequently republished.


Fouqué's play Der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg (The Song Contest on the Wartburg) is likely one of the sources for Wagner's Tannhäuser.[1] Goethe was not impressed by it, remarking to Eckermann: "We both agreed that all his life this poet had engaged in old Germanic studies, however without being able to develop this into a culture of his own making."[2] Robert Louis Stevenson admired Fouqué's story "The Bottle Imp" and wrote his own version (The Bottle Imp) with a Hawaiian setting.[3] John Henry Newman and Charlotte Mary Yonge both praised Sintram and his Companions. William Morris also became an admirer of Sintram and his Companions, and it influenced Morris' own fiction.[3] Sintram and his Companions and Undine are referred to in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; the character Jo mentions wanting them for Christmas in the first chapter of the book and finally receives them in chapter 22. Aslauga's Knight as well as Sintram and his Companions and Undine are referred to in Jo's Boys, the final book in Alcott's Little Women series, where the story of Aslauga's Knight mirrors the character Dan and his affection for gentle Bess.


  1. ^ Steele 2015, Der Fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser pp. 20–34.
  2. ^ Johann Peter Eckerman: Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Friday, 3 Oktober 1828 The original full quote is: "Ich sprach diesen Mittag bei Tisch mit Goethe über Fouqués ›Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg‹, den ich auf seinen Wunsch gelesen. Wir kamen darin überein, daß dieser Dichter sich zeitlebens mit altdeutschen Studien beschäftiget, und daß am Ende keine Kultur für ihn daraus hervorgegangen."
  3. ^ a b Mike Ashley, "Fouqué, Friedrich (Heinrich Karl),(Baron) de la Motte" in St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, edited by David Pringle. St. James Press, 1996, (p. 654-5) . ISBN 1-55862-205-5


  • Steele, Bruce, ed. (2015). Richard Wagner As Poet and Thinker: Ten Lectures by JG Robertson. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781925003567.
  • Ausgewählte Werke, edited by himself, in 12 vols. (Berlin, 1841)
  • A selection, edited by M. Koch, in Kürschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur, vol. 146, part ii. (Stuttgart, 1893)
  • Undine, Sintram, etc., in innumerable reprints. *Bibliography in Karl Goedeke's Grundriss zur Geschichte der deutschen Dichtung (2nd ed., vi. pp. 115 ff., Dresden, 1898).
  • Undine, trans. Paul Turner. German Romantic Stories. Ed. Frank G. Ryder. New York: Continuum, 1998. (The German Library, vol. 35). 15–90.
  • Fouqué und einige seiner Zeitgenossen, Arno Schmidt (Bläschke 1958; 2nd Revised Edition 1960), also in the Bargfelder Edition, Volume III/1 (1993)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 749–750.

External links

1777 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1777.

1811 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1811.

92 Undina

Undina ( un-DY-nə; Latin: Undīna) (minor planet designation: 92 Undina) is a large main belt asteroid. The asteroid was discovered by Christian Peters on July 7, 1867 from the Hamilton College Observatory. It is named for the eponymous heroine of Undine, a popular novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.

This minor planet is orbiting at a distance of around 3 AU from the Sun, which is known for a concentration of Tholen M-type asteroids. Indeed, 92 Undina has an unusually high albedo of 0.25 and an M-type spectrum, or Xc-type on the Bus taxonomy. However, it displays absorption features at a wavelength of 3 μm, which is usually indicative of hydrated silicates on the surface. There is a faint band in the region of 9 μm that is typically attributed to a form of orthopyroxene having low levels of calcium and iron. The spectrum of 92 Undina closely resembles powdered material from the Esquel meteorite, although with a higher albedo.Observations performed at the Palmer Divide Observatory in Colorado Springs, Colorado in during 2007 produced a light curve with a period of 15.941 ± 0.002 hours with a brightness range of 0.20 ± 0.02 in magnitude. This matches a 15.94-hour period reported in 1979. Attempts in 2014 to model the spin axis and shape based on light curve information proved inconclusive, but did indicate that "the pole latitude is not far removed from the ecliptic plane and rotation is probably retrograde".

Caroline de la Motte Fouqué

Caroline Philippine von Briest (better known as Caroline de la Motte Fouqué; 7 October 1773 – 20 July 1831) was one of the most prolific women writers of the Romantic period.

She wrote novels, short stories, fairy tales, as well as essays, on Greek mythology, on the history of fashion, and travelogues. Considered to be one of the most accomplished women of Germany of her time, her numerous works gained her a high degree of celebrity.

Die schöne Melusine

Ouvertüre zum Märchen von der schönen Melusine, Op. 32, (German: Overture to the Legend of the Fair Melusine) is a concert overture by Felix Mendelssohn written in 1834. It is generally referred to as Die schöne Melusine in modern concert programming and recordings, and is sometimes rendered in English as The Fair Melusine.

The overture is loosely illustrative of aspects of the legend of Melusine, a water-nymph who marries Count Raymond, on the condition that he never enter her room on a Saturday (on which day she takes on the form of a mermaid). In the 19th century the story was familiar in Germany in the retelling by Ludwig Tieck (Melusina, 1800) and the poetic version of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (his Undine of 1811). Mendelssohn denied close musical references to the story which critics, including Robert Schumann, believed they detected. When asked what the piece was about, Mendelssohn replied drily "Hmm ... a misalliance". Nevertheless, some aspects of the music have clear pictorial implications. The opening passage of string instrument arpeggios in 64 rhythm anticipates the river music of the opening of Richard Wagner's 1854 opera Das Rheingold.The piece was written in 1834 as a birthday gift for Mendelssohn's sister Fanny. In a letter to her of 7 April 1834, he explains that he had picked on the subject after seeing Conradin Kreutzer's opera Melusina the previous year in Berlin. Kreutzer's overture, writes Mendelssohn

was encored, and I disliked it exceedingly, and the whole opera quite as much: but not [the singer] Mlle. Hähnel, who was very fascinating, especially in one scene when she appeared as a mermaid combing her hair; this inspired me with the wish to write an overture which the people might not encore, but which would cause them more solid pleasure.

The overture, which is broadly in sonata form, was first performed in London by the Philharmonic Society orchestra, conducted by Ignaz Moscheles, under the title Melusine, or the Mermaid and the Knight. The performance was received politely but not enthusiastically. Mendelssohn subsequently revised the piece, and it was published in the revised form in 1836. A German contemporary reviewer commented that the Overture "does not try to translate the whole tale into musical language ... but only to conjure up for us, from the dreamworld of harmonic power, the happiness and unhappiness of two beings."


Fouqué is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué (1698–1774), Prussian general

Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1777–1843), Prussian writer

Ferdinand André Fouqué (1828–1904), French geologist

Joseph Mozier

Joseph Mozier (August 22, 1812 – October 3, 1870) was an American sculptor active in Italy.

He was born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1812. In 1831 he moved to New York City, where he worked as a merchant. He retired from business around 1845, and shortly afterward went to Europe, studying sculpture for several years in Florence, after which he moved to Rome.

His best-known work is Undine, the title character in the novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, a water nymph who falls in love with a man. He won a grand prize for it in Rome in 1867.

He made a short visit to the United States in 1870, and was hospitalized upon his return in London, England. He died in Faids, Switzerland, while en route to his home in Italy.

Julius Eduard Hitzig

Julius Eduard Hitzig (born Isaac Elias Itzig; 26 March 1780 in Berlin – 26 November 1849 in Berlin) was a German author and civil servant.

Born into the wealthy and influential Jewish Itzig family, he was between 1799 and 1806 a Prussian civil servant, became Criminal Counsel at the Berlin Supreme Court in 1815 and its director in 1825. In 1808 he established a publishing house and later a bookstore.

Hitzig was much involved in the Berlin literary life of his period, notably in connection with the salon of Rahel Varnhagen. He was friendly with E.T.A. Hoffmann, August von Kotzebue, Adelbert von Chamisso, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué and Willibald Alexis. He was lampooned for his name change by Heinrich Heine.

His works include "Der Neue Pitaval" (several volumes).

Motte (surname)

Motte, la Motte, de la Motte, and LaMotte are French surnames. Notable people with the surname include:

Antoine Houdar de la Motte (1672–1731), French author

August de la Motte (1713–1788), Hanoverian general

Benjamin Motte (1693–1738), English publisher

Benjamin Motte Sr. (died 1710), English publisher

Bernard Lamotte (1903–1983), French artist

Camille du Bois de la Motte (fl. 1789), French marchioness

Capucine Motte (born 1971), Belgian writer

Clarence Petersen de la Motte (born 1892), Australian sailor

Edme Joachim Bourdois de La Motte (1754–1835), French doctor

Ellen N. La Motte (1873–1961), American nurse, journalist and author

Étienne Lamotte (1903–1983), Belgian priest and indologist

François Henri de la Motte (died 1781), French army officer

Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1777–1843), German writer

Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué (1698–1774), French-Prussian lieutenant general

Henri-Paul Motte (1846–1922), French painter

Isaac Motte (1738–1795), American statesman

Jason Motte (born 1982), American baseball player

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (1648–1717), French mystic

Lisa de la Motte (born 1985), Swazi swimmer

Marguerite De La Motte (1902–1950), American actress

Nathaniel Motte (born 1984), American recording artist

Nicholas de la Motte (1755–1831), French nobleman

Pierre Lambert de la Motte (1624–1679), French bishop

Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte (1720–1791), French admiral

Tyler Motte (born 1995), American ice hockey player

Ondine, ou La naïade

Ondine, ou La naïade is a ballet in three acts and six scenes with choreography by Jules Perrot, music by Cesare Pugni, and a libretto inspired by the novel Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. Pugni dedicated his score to Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, a long-time balletomane and patron of the arts in London. Whilst the original London production used the title Ondine, ou La naïade, Perrot staged a revival of the ballet under the title, La naïade et le pêcheur, a title which was used for all subsequent productions of the ballet.

Ondine (ballet)

See also Ondine, ou La naïade for the ballet on the same theme by Pugni and Perrot

Ondine is a ballet in three acts created by the choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton and composer Hans Werner Henze. Ashton originally produced Ondine for the Royal Ballet in 1958, with Henze commissioned to produce the original score, published as Undine, which has since been restaged by other choreographers. The ballet was adapted from a novella titled Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué and it tells the tale of a water nymph who is the object of desire of a young prince named Palemon. The première of the ballet took place at the Royal Opera House, London, on 27 October 1958, with the composer as guest conductor. The first major revival of this Ashton/Henze production took place in 1988.

Ondine (play)

Ondine is a play written in 1938 by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux, based on the 1811 novella Undine by the German Romantic Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué that tells the story of Hans and Ondine. Hans is a knight-errant who has been sent off on a quest by his betrothed. In the forest he meets and falls in love with Ondine, a water-sprite who is attracted to the world of mortal man. The subsequent marriage of people from different worlds is, of course, folly. By turns comic, enchanting, and tragic, Ondine is considered by some to be Giraudoux's finest work.

Otto Heinrich von Loeben

Ferdinand August Otto Heinrich, Graf von Loeben (18 August 1786 in Dresden – 3 April 1825 in Dresden) was a German writer.

He was born into an aristocratic Protestant family, and was educated by private tutors. From 1804 he studied law at the University of Wittenberg, but moved to Heidelberg in 1807, where he befriended Joseph von Eichendorff, also meeting Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano and Johann Joseph von Görres. Over the next few years he travelled between Vienna, Dresden and Berlin, meeting Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué at Nennhausen. He was involved in the campaign of 1813-14; after his return, he married Johanna Victoria Gottliebe née von Bressler and spent the rest of his life in Dresden. A stroke suffered in 1822 left him an invalid until his death.

Graf von Loeben was a very prolific writer of the Dresden school, and he influenced Eichendorff and Ludwig Tieck among others, but quickly fell out of favour, most later critics viewing his work as bordering on parody. His most important novel is Guido, written under the pen-name "Isidorus Orientalis". Under a second pseudonym, Heinrich Goeble (sometimes just H. Goeble), he authored the poem Abendlied unterm gestirten Himmel, set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven as WoO 150. See Theodore Albrecht, "Otto Heinrich Graf von Loeben (1786-1825) and the Poetic Source of Beethoven's Abendlied unterm gestirnten Himmel, WoO 150," in Bonner Beethoven-Studien, Band 10 (Bonn: Verlag Beethoven-Haus, 2012), pp. 7–32.

An article about him can be found in the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, and a monograph by Raimund Pissin was published in Berlin in 1905. On the basis of these two sources, Porterfield enumerates his known works as "one conventional drama, one musical-romantic drama, two narrative poems, one of which is on Ferdusi, three collections of poems, between 30 and 40 novelettes, fairy tales and [several thousand] aphorisms and detached thoughts." He is discussed by his friend Eichendorff in Ahnung und Gegenwart (ch. 12) and Erlebtes (ch. 10).

Rose M. M. Pitman

Rose M. M. Pitman (1868–1947) was an English illustrator. She is best known for her illustrations for the 1897 edition of Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.

Sonata Undine

Sonata Undine is a flute and piano sonata written by Carl Reinecke that is based on the novel Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. It is his opus 167, first published in 1882.

This sonata is normally associated with the Romantic genre. It consists of four movements


Intermezzo. Allegretto vivace

Andante tranquillo

Finale. Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato, quasi Presto.

The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains

The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains (German: Der Hirt des Riesengebürgs) is a German ballad by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué which was translated into English by Menella Bute Smedley in 1846.

Theodor von Holst

Theodor Richard Edward von Holst (3 September 1810 – 14 February 1844) was a nineteenth-century British literary painter.

Von Holst was born in London, the fourth of the five children of Matthias and Katharina von Holst. Von Holst's drawing talents were noticed by the artist Henry Fuseli and Sir Thomas Lawrence. Lawrence even bought drawings from the ten-year-old Von Holst. Fuseli trained the young man in early years, after which he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1824. According to Max Browne's biographical article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Von Holst's "early instruction by Fuseli exerted such a powerful influence on his artistic development that some of his work is almost indistinguishable from that of his master".Like Fuseli, Von Holst painted mostly famous literary subjects of European culture, but not current trends. He drew from the works of Virgil, Dante, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, and Victor Hugo. Von Holst was the first artist to illustrate Shelley's novel Frankenstein in 1831. However, the German Romantics, particularly the works of Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, were the basis of almost half his works. Von Holst became "the most prolific English illustrator of German Romance". As Browne explains, "while [von Holst's] exceptional imagination and draughtsmanship were widely praised, his choice of subjects were out of step with the age and public taste. His penchant for the demonic, supernatural, and erotic led to a degree of neglect that was otherwise undeserved."However, Von Holst exhibited 49 paintings at major exhibitions in London and sold portraits to collectors. Also, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, greatly admired Von Holst's work and according to Browne "considered him a significant link between the older generation of English Romantic painters, such as Fuseli and William Blake, and the Pre-Raphaelite circle".On 17 August 1841, Von Holst married Amelia Thomasina Symmes Villard in Marylebone.

Von Holst died from a disease of the liver at his home in London and was buried on 21 February 1844. After his death, his works were sold on 26 June 1844. The composer Gustav Holst, whose middle name was Theodore, was his grand-nephew.

Undine (Hoffmann)

Undine is an opera, with spoken dialogue, in three acts by the German composer and author E.T.A. Hoffmann. The libretto, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, is based on his own story Undine. It received its premiere at the Königliches Schauspielhaus, Berlin on 3 August, 1816. Undine was Hoffmann's greatest operatic success and a major influence on the development of German Romantic opera.

Carl Maria von Weber's enthusiastic review of the opera admired it as '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'.It was revived by the Wuppertal Opera in 1970.

There is a 1960 recording (including the spoken dialogue) by the Choir and Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, conductor:Jan Koetsier, Undine: Rita Streich, Hulbrand von Ringstetten: Raimund Grumbach, Berthalda: Melitta Muszely, Kuhleborn: Karl-Christian Kohn, Ein alter Fischer: Max Proebstl, Seine Frau: Sunhild Rauschkolb, Heilmann: Keith Engen, Herzog: Anton Rosner, Herzogin: Marjorie Heistermann; and a 3 CDs 1993 recording (leaving out the spoken dialogue) by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, conductor: Roland Bader; Roland Hermann, Hans Franzen, Elisabeth Glauser, Krisztina Laki, Heikki Orama, Charles Ridder Busch, Ulrich Ress, Dora Koschak, Mani Mekler.

Undine (novella)

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.

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