Read The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald Online


From the Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Offshore’ comes this unusual romance between the poet Novalis and his fiancée Sophie, newly introduced by Candia McWilliam.The year is 1794 and Fritz, passionate, idealistic and brilliant, is seeking his father’s permission to announce his engagement to his heart’s desire: twelve-year-old Sophie. His astounded family and friends areFrom the Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Offshore’ comes this unusual romance between the poet Novalis and his fiancée Sophie, newly introduced by Candia McWilliam.The year is 1794 and Fritz, passionate, idealistic and brilliant, is seeking his father’s permission to announce his engagement to his heart’s desire: twelve-year-old Sophie. His astounded family and friends are amused and disturbed by his betrothal. What can he be thinking?Tracing the dramatic early years of the young German who was to become the great romantic poet and philosopher Novalis, ‘The Blue Flower’ is a masterpiece of invention, evoking the past with a reality that we can almost feel....

Title : The Blue Flower
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780006550198
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Blue Flower Reviews

  • Cecily
    2019-05-11 03:40

    Oh dear. Awful. Just awful. Even more so, given how much I adored my first Penelope Fitzgerald last summer, Offshore (see my review HERE) and that AS Byatt called this "a masterpiece". I'm baffled.The prose is plodding - even though it's portraying a poet: short, banal sentence, after short banal sentence. I found the characters, setting and plot hard to imagine, care about or believe in - even though it's based on real life. I forced myself to finish it, thinking there must be something worthwhile to come. I failed to find it. I was just bored. And irritated.True StoryThis is a fictionalised account, but it seems to be fairly close to the facts, and some of the diary entries quoted here, are genuine historical documents.It's set in a noble, pious, Protestant family in Germany, in the late 1700s. It concerns Fritz, who later became a famous romantic and philosophical poet known as Novalis. This book covers the slightly earlier period, around the time he succumbed to a coup de foudre over twelve-year old Sophie. Given the period, it's all very chaste; nothing like Lolita (see my review HERE), which is a far more disturbing book, but is beautifully written, and hence powerful and compelling. So no, nothing like this.PlotFritz attends university in several towns, studying a variety of subjects and dabbling in philosophy. He meets various people. Afterwards, he trains to be a salt mine inspector like his father. He meets more people, including Sophie's family. He is welcomed, and spends a lot of time there. It's another large family, but utterly different from his own. Goethe makes an appearance and gives his opinion on the relationship.The French Revolution is going on in the background. Some are slightly fearful; others vaguely support it.The brief afterword made me laugh: it was like a satirical summary of a typical operatic plot. Even less appropriately, it reminded me of a scene in comedy sci-fi show, Red Dwarf: (view spoiler)[Holly to Lister, "They're all dead. Everybody's dead, Dave." (hide spoiler)]The Blue FlowerWhat a pretty image. It's the title of a novel Fritz starts to write about "unspeakable longings" for such a flower.This may be another reason the book didn't "wow" me. Blue is my favourite colour, but I wasn't sufficiently awed by the exoticism of a blue flower. It may not be the most common hue, but blue flowers have always featured prominently in my life. Spring is marked by walks to the beech woods to see carpets of bluebells; my mother pots blue hyacinths each year to give to family and friends; my granny grew delphiniums and hydrangeas in profusion, and in more recent years, nearby fields are filled with linseed flowers (so much nicer than the garish yellow of rapeseed). He first reads his poem to Karoline, saying he wrote it for her. Then he reads it to Sophie, as if it's for her. The "test" for both is to understand its deep meaning.Sophie is puzzled:"'Do you not know yourself?' she asked doubtfully." to which he says "Sometimes I think I do".The two people who are claimed to understand it are Sophie's doctor, and Fritz's younger, precocious brother, The Bernhard, though I can't say I warmed to The Bernhard's interpretation. The Christmas ReckoningThis was an intriguing and slightly alarming idea. "The mother spoke to her daughters, the father to his sons, and told them first what had displeased, then what had pleased most in their conduct during the past year. In addition, the young Hardenbergs were asked to make a clean breast of anything that they should have told their parents, but had not."Believabality and InconsistencyLove is not rational, and sudden infatuation even less so, but if a poet cannot convey the reasons for his passion for a child who is not especially pretty, intelligent or interested, how can the reader believe it?Fritz's family is large and noble, but poor (nobility are banned from many jobs). Later on, money seems less tight, it's not clear how or why. He was a sickly and apparently backward child, but then turned into a genius, though there's little evidence of that, in his poetry or vague philosophical musings. He does call Sophie "my Philosophy", though, and also "my spirit's guide". We're told that as a the child of a large family he keeps a diary rather than talk to himself, then ten pages later... he's talking to himself a lot. The number and ages of children didn't stack up (Fritz's mother is said to have given birth eight times and later to have eleven children, but no mention of twins, and The Bernhard starts off aged six but is almost adult a few short years later).QuotesDespite the generally leaden prose, there are some nice turns of phrase:• A shy matriarch “seeming of less substance even than the shadows... no more than a shred.”• “a short, unfinished young man.”• “How heavy a child is when it gives up responsibility.”• A man still feels his older brother “appeared to have been sent into the world primarily to irritate him”.• “Earth and air were often indistinguishable in the autumn mist, and morning seemed to pass into afternoon without discernible mid-day.”• “Erasmus would... enroll in the school of forestry, a wholesome open-air life for which so far he had shown no inclination whatsoever.”• “Jollity is as relentless as piety.”• “If a story begins with finding, it must end with searching.”• At the fair, “A fine young woman still, what a pity she has no affianced to treat her to a pig's nostril!"• Mining “is not a violation of Nature's secrets, but a release.”• In a music room, “the airy space faithfully carried every note, balanced it, and let it fall reluctantly.”• “the remorseless perseverance of the truly pleasure-loving.”• “Even in his garden-house, melancholy caught him by the sleeve.”NomenclatureA quirk, which was unfamiliar to me, was the naming. Sophie is often called Sophgen, Fritz's parents as the Freifrau and the Freiherr, and many others are referred to as "the [something]". When many of the characters are thin, an extra veil doesn't help.

  • Alexandra
    2019-04-26 06:35

    A gorgeous, elliptical book, which I was drawn to by its subject (eighteenth century German philosopher and poet becomes obsessed with unattractive twelve year old girl). I fell in love with The Blue Flower just like Fritz - later known as Novalis - did with Sophie, only the book's positive qualities are slightly more obvious. It's beautifully written, understated, and perhaps more touching than you would expect. Fitzgerald never demands that you like her characters, and there's no sentimentality, but you care about the von Hardenburgs (and Sophie) anyway, because they're so strangely endearing. How can you read this book and not want the Bernhard as your younger brother?If you approach it like a more conventional novel, then you'll probably be disappointed, because the pace of the narrative is quite unusual, and occasionally the focus seems odd - most novelists would struggle to keep the reader's interest with chapters on salt-mining. But somehow, it works. The description's so minimal, and Fitzgerald evokes a society in a sentence with more success than most other writers could manage in a chapter. "How does she do it?", asks A. S. Byatt. Well, I don't know. But as someone interested in writing, I'm sure I'll find myself re-reading this, in the hope that it becomes slightly less enigmatic. I think any aspiring writer could benefit from The Blue Flower, not only as a rewarding novel in its own right, but as proof that you don't need long-winded descriptions to convey settings and characters. Or, indeed, to make the reader feel so inexpicably attached to your characters that the Afterword leaves them feeling devastated.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-05-24 02:24

    This is my favourite of the three Fitzgerald novels that I've read. In common with Gate of Angels and The Beginning of Spring a wealth of research has gone into this novel.Our reasons for liking a novel are often subjective and completely unreasonable. In my case the place and time of the setting and the intellectual firmament of the characters overlap, and this gives me some happiness. It is the end of the Enlightenment and the shattering of the Ancien Regime (at least in mainland Europe) that provides the intellectual background for this novel about Novalis. Glancing up and down my bookshelves it is a period that captivates me.But it is not just about the intellectual stuff. Romanticism and romance run up against day to day life ('"Here among the table-linen, I am disturbed by Fritz Hardenburg's young sister," thought Dietmahler. "This is the sort of thing I meant to avoid."') It later turns out that she forgets him. Optimism is defeated by realities as chance fails to create happy couples (view spoiler)[ or Cupid, feeling perverse, (or perverser) decides to save his arrows (hide spoiler)]. The scene is a small one, but a perfect foot in the middle of the puddle of our expectations, eyes do not meet across a crowded room, there will be no happily ever after, instead just a double helping of life all round.It is a novel with a distinct sense of place from Jena to Weissenfels, places were you might well hear 'Come, we're Saxons. We can make a good dinner, even if our hearts are breaking' before sitting to eat your fill. The combination of place and time means that Goethe even gets to make a cameo appearance (though not at the meal-table, but then he was no Saxon by birth). It is a bleak novel. Which considering the plot is driven by Fritz Hardenberg falling in love with a girl of twelve when he was twenty-two is not surprising (but this isn't a Lolita story set at the end of the eighteenth-century), the bleakness comes from the typical cause of bleakness in early nineteenth century lives, but cough, cough, this is too much of a spoiler, cough. The novels final note is not resigned so much as bitter. The fruit never ripened but withered on the branch.

  • Emma
    2019-05-08 06:42

    ....each thing has its own characteristic beauty, not only everything organic which expresses itself in the unity on an individual being, but also everything inorganic and formless, and even every manufactured article. - Schopenhauer This book is the nuts. Penelope Fitzgerald has created an affecting novel, based on the early life of Friedrich (Fritz) von Hardenberg (1772-1801), the German romantic poet and philosopher later known by the pen name of Novalis. Flitting from various viewpoints and places, The Blue Flower concentrates on Fritz’s relationship with Sophie von Kuhn, a girl of twelve (yes twelve!) and their numerous siblings, relatives and friends. Sophie is not a great beauty and is considered a highly unsuitable match for Fritz, his love for her perplexing to those around him. There is an uncouthness to Sophie, she is without airs and graces, but she has an innocence and trust in those around her, that makes her endearing. Sophie was in raptures, absolutely genuine, over her sweet-box; she was going to give up chewing tobacco altogether, only sweets from now on. 'They will give you colic' said the Mandelsloh. 'Ach, I have colic already. I tell hardenburch he must call me his little wind-bagFritz has genuine love for Sophie who he describes as ‘my philosophy, my heart's blood’ and intends to marry her once she is of age, although it all ends rather tragically. I may have shed a little tear when I read the afterword and discovered the grim fate of the people I had been reading about. Fitzgerald presents minute historical detail that is so convincing and precisely felt, that the search for meaning of Fritz’s relationship with Sophie, and the perception of it by others, became urgent for me as a reader. Fritz is a real historical figure with a fate that is already known (or easily found on wiki) and it is impressive that Fitzgerald has created a contemporary work about him such as this. I liked that as a reader I was given insight into political matters of the time, dress, foods that were eaten and the totally bizarre customs and traditions of the German nobility. I loved descriptions such as this:Even Tennstedt had its fair, specialising in Kesselfleisch - the ears, snout and strips of fat from the pig's neck boiled with peppermint schnappsJesus! Fitzgerald’s exact prose is calm, simple and full of imagery. With a dry wit she presents an unwaveringly clear view of beauty and taste, love and perception. It is a consequential piece of work and, without trying too hard or being overly profound, symbolizes the beauty of things, whether it is an aesthetic judgement, an emotional response, a quality or something entirely subjective. What I have looked for, I have found:What I have found, has looked for me.(A birthday poem written by Fritz for Sophie)

  • Teresa
    2019-04-30 02:36

    I feel The Blue Flower, similar to the ‘historical’ half of Ali Smith’s How to Be Both, isn’t (and wasn’t intended to be) so-called historical fiction. Both writers use the frame of the life of a real person to hang their themes on; though the characterization, usually through thought, is vivid. Plot is not foremost, though the details of The Blue Flower are accurate (as far as I can tell); the research had to be extensive and is worn lightly. Due to its style I felt a distance, which may be intentional. The style is different from The Bookshop (the only other Fitzgerald novel I've read), except in that her humor is terse and easily missed, as is her deflection. Each short chapter ends with a line or thought that propelled me to read on, yet at times I had no trouble putting the book down near the start of a consecutive chapter. The book’s opening is memorable, with a visitor’s view of the family on clothes-washing day and then the rescuing of a brother by the main character Fritz (on a day beyond the novel's scope he will be known as the poet Novalis). We are then thrust back in time after just a few short chapters. By the time the book gets back to the ‘beginning’, I’d assumed we were done with that time/place and with the visitor, and I’d been wondering what its and his point were. I wish we’d gotten back sooner: when we do, it’s a bit awkward and confusing.The two mothers are fertile, yet inert. A niece and (older) sisters are the caretakers. The men hang their own interpretations on the framework of the women. The women mostly keep their thoughts to themselves. When one speaks up, she asks a question: Do you know my sister? (She does not say this to Fritz, though it would apply to him as well.) The question is unanswered, but the reader knows. Fritz’s story of the blue flower is read twice by him, to two different females, and then repeated in part and with slight differences a third time as a brother’s reimagining. The story of the blue flower now seems to belong, and easily, to someone else. The dreamer does not know what his dream means and, sadly, is disappointed when another doesn’t know either. He silently judges that lack in one, but excuses the same in another. Once again, the woman is burdened with the man’s expectation and I started to believe that this is Fitzgerald’s main theme.The dialogue between the brothers and their sister Sidonie (probably my favorite character) is delightful. I have a soft spot for that kind of thing as it reminds me of my own siblings. I’ve seen such varying opinions of this book, and I feel so ambivalent toward it, I’m forced to believe it’s one of those that you get out of it what you already have.

  • Sam Quixote
    2019-05-14 02:29

    The Blue Flower is another of the books my dear old dad got me at Christmas and, like the other one I read, What a Life! by JB Priestley, it is a stone cold turkey! I’m not sure what my pa asked for when he went into the bookstore, but I’m pretty sure it was “I want to bore my son like he’s never been bored before - what books do you suggest?”The novel looks at the short life of Novalis, an obscure late 18th century German Romantic philosopher/poet and his relationship with his 14 year old betrothed, Sophie. On the edge of your seat yet? But wait, there’s more! Novalis is also administrator of a salt mine and then Sophia dies at 15 of a brain tumour or something. Novalis dies shortly after aged 28. Yeah, that sounds like something I’d be interested in... grumble. Don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this guy or wanting to read about this era but whatever - thanks dad! I’m really not sure what Penelope Fitzgerald was going for in this book. Novalis and Sophie’s story isn’t very exciting and I’m not sure what writing about it was meant to elicit in me. I suppose it’s a bit scandalous today that a twentysomething was interested in a child for his bride but it was acceptable back in the 18th century. Why was he so obsessed with Sophie - was he just a pedo albeit mentally (he never actually sleeps with her)? No clue.I also didn’t really understand much about Novalis’ work or its relevance to Western culture. He kept calling Sophie his “philosophy” but I never really got what that meant or what his work and art was about. Then again I was nodding off every other paragraph! This 282 page book took nearly a month for me to get through because it’s so easy to put down - the pacing is so slow and plodding! It’s also annoying that the book has a lot of untranslated German, which I don’t speak, and the characters and places have long German names and titles. A common sentence went along these lines:“Johanturmhiem went to Turineingemain for the Polaintenurgin. Werntingethenineign was talking to Desingtineoiengiengn about the Kolieingeinteininininin’s Tuinhugjnguun at which the Versingintineugh was very much Gerugugunaeughuhunniinginging.” Say whaaaaaaaat?! A lot of the characters were very flat - I got a rough idea of who Sophie and Novalis were but everyone else was a blank - and everyone speaks in the same voice. I suppose it was mildly interesting (in comparison to the rest of the novel) towards the end when Sophia was dying, or maybe that was just my excitement at nearing the end of this dreary muck! This novel is like someone mildly dramatised a Wikipedia entry on Novalis. Read The Blue Flower if you want to feel the mental anguish young Sophie was going through. Gah… there are 8 more books on the Christmas pile! Oh no - is that Proust?! (Goes looking for noose)

  • Petra X
    2019-05-26 09:46

    This was an overgrown novella. I think that actually Dostoevsky would have done this theme more justice as it reminds me of The Idiot in some ways - the girl's innocence and faux maturity perhaps. Thing is if I am going to read about some man's infatuation (can't really call it love, can you?) for a 12 year old girl, which is pedophilia of thought if not action, I want that aspect of it explored. Obviously I wasn't going to get the depth of Nabokov with his distasefully wonderful Lolita but this was just too flimsy. Poets, philosophers and all is maya doesn't do it for me.Two stars because it was just ok. An extra half a star for an attempt at tackling a grand theme, even if ultimately it didn't go anywhere.

  • Libby
    2019-05-01 06:25

    This is a strange and beautiful short novel, which revolves around the young poet Friedrich Von Hardenberg's (the 18th century German poet Novalis) inexplicable love for the somewhat slow, not particularly lovely 12-year-old Sophie Von Kuhn, who would become his fiancee. The novel's genius lies in its complete lack of interest in explaining/examining the WHY of Hardenberg's love. This is not a love story or a romance. It is an observation of the sort of ineffable human forces that produce not only love, but also its companion, art.In this small book what goes unsaid, unseen, and unheard is just as important as what we, as readers, do have immediate access to; it is an object lesson in the writer's art of strategic omission.Fitzgerald makes many other interesting (and in my opinion, successful) choices: the novel has its own ordering logic, but does not feel compelled to observe the laws of linear chronology; the chapters are mere slivers of storytelling, each with its precise, almost aphoristic title; the language is at times odd and elliptical, and so on, and so forth.Utterly captivating, and not quite sensical, much like the relationship at the novel's center.

  • Ian Laird
    2019-04-27 08:26

    This is a sad story about a doomed love and short lives. But it is a bit of a misfire if the central premise, the love story, does not work.Penelope Fitzgerald was a gifted writer who could make something out of very little and in unlikely circumstances. With the The Bookshop she made a memorable story out of a middle-aged woman starting a bookshop in a disused, damp (a telling detail) building in a small English rural town against formidable opposition. Here she attempts something more ambitious. She seeks to flesh out the noble ardour of a real life historical figure (Fritz von Hardenberg aka the philosopher poet Novalis) in late eighteenth century Germany.(view spoiler)[ As a young undergraduate, von Hardenberg meets and falls in love with Sophie, a sickly 12 year old girl who soon enough dies of consumption. Novalis himself lasted only a few more years. The story is told with great authenticity, from the domestic lives of the several families and the frustrations of key characters to the economics of the region and the high level of mortality, in that time.My edition has a portrait of a young girl in a reflective pose on the cover. It is one of my favourites. The painting, Portrait of Jeanne de Bauer, is by Fernand Khnopff. It captures a young girl’s innocence, perhaps her sadness and even resignation. In the story, Sophie barely enters her own limited society before she starts to withdraw from it, as she ails. Perhaps Fritz sees, in her, his blue flower, something frail but pure, unworldly but enchanting. In symbolic terms the search for the blue flower represents reaching for the unreachable. It becomes a problem if the unreachable is also the unknowable or perhaps at best, the intangible. Fritz’s search is unfulfilling for him in any real sense and sadly, for us. The story has added poignancy because Fritz fails completely to see that there is someone else who loves him, who is objectively, far more sensible a match, but it is not to be.The Blue Flower does nevertheless leave an after image on my cerebral retina, because the striking world Fitzgerald creates, with its beautifully written practical details of rural life, especially regarding the responsibilities of the family, and the limitations within which people live (and often, not for very long). Von Hardenberg is the son of a family whose father who owns and runs several estates. They are therefore of the land owning class, but by no means rolling in money. Even the continuing education of his son is part of this financial equation. His father deals with this and other tribulations with some equanimity. He is equable, realistic. There’s little help in the gratuitous advice which he receives from his brother, a man with opinions, but little responsibility. It is hard to be romantic when you have to be practical. Fritz’s mother has almost lost the power to move; it is Fritz and his younger brother, The Bernhard who can afford idealism and imagination. (hide spoiler)]Von Hardenberg epitomises a central dichotomy: a poet and philosopher who yet understands financial necessity as he assiduously applies himself to become a revenue collector from the salt mines. Penelope Fitzgerald’s biographer, Hermione Lee,Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life wrote a depressingly brilliant appreciation of The Blue Flower in the Independent of 1 November 2013, in which she speaks of the work as Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. She makes an eloquent case, but does not persuade me. Perhaps the fact that this book has generated such widely varied reactions from Goodreads reviewers, suggest that ‘masterpiece’ can be as elusive as the blue flower.

  • Lahierbaroja
    2019-04-28 02:27

    Cuando estoy perdida y no sé qué leer, cuando pienso que todos los libros son mediocres o cuando me encuentro en una crisis lectora tras varias historias que no brillan, recurro a Fitzgerald. Porque esta autora es un éxito seguro, por cómo despliega una historia aparentemente sencilla en un universo complejo, por la elegancia de su estilo y cómo mide las descripciones. Es una delicia leerla. Y más en una edición como esta.Para mí Fitzgerald es mi tabla de salvación cuando los mares de las lecturas no me son favorables.

  • Natalie
    2019-05-15 03:24

    How dare I refuse to give this book that was named Book of the Year by nineteen British newspapers in 1995 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1997 anything less than a five?NYT reviewer Michael Hofmann wrote of The Blue Flower: It is an interrogation of life, love, purpose, experience and horizons, which has found its perfect vehicle in a few years from the pitifully short life of a German youth about to become a great poet -- one living in a period of intellectual and political upheaval, when even the prevailing medical orthodoxy ''held that to be alive was not a natural state.” -In,Nonsense Is Only Another Language: Penelope Fitzgerald uses fiction to examine an 18th-century German poet and his doomed love for a 12-year-old girl.Yet, For me The Blue Flower is at best a 3.75.Why? because I loved Fitzgerald’s earlier work, The Bookshop and because Kleist’s editor and publisher Ludwig Tieck (1773-18530), - a romantic writer who had outlived Novalis and virtually the rest of his entire generation describes the The Blue Flower’s female love interest, the real Christiane Wilhelmine Sophie von Kühn as a girl who"gave an impression . . . so gracious and spiritually lovely--we must call [it] superearthly or heavenly, while through this radiant and almost transparent countenance of hers we would be struck with the fear that it was too tender and delicately woven for this life, that it was death or immortality which looked at us so penetratingly from those shining eyes".That’s a lively and compelling enough entourage to encourage my readership of The Blue Flower, but the loving of it? That’d take more, something more like a sci-fi setting for William Shakespeare's The Tempest? That can actually work, be fun, and be fun to talk about in the bar afterward over drinks.The Blue Flower on the other hand is NO FUN. The author sets 'em up and knocks 'em down (just as life did) but really, how funny is that? If you’re not sure, today there are a couple copies available on goodreads swap, or maybe my little screenplay below will tell you how it goes? (If I get ambitious I'll work up an animation of this with stick figures acting out all the parts, but til then this is all I've got to offer:(view spoiler)[The Cast:Fritz aka Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801): He will later take the pen-name Novalis and become a German Romantic poet of lasting repute. Here he is another of Fitzgerald’s innocents who destroys all around him through his naivete and romanticism or perhaps he is just an unfortunate disease vector.Sophie, the love interest of Fritz (& later also his brother, Erasmus) described either as a somewhat stupid, unexceptional young girl who is not yet a lady or as superearthly/heavenly. Take your pick. It doesn’t matter.The Bernhard Fritz and Erasmus’s little brother, no longer a toddler.ChristophFritz and Erasmus’s littlest brother who doesn’t thrive.Gunther Sophie’s little brother who has the household’s cough but is described by Fritz as stronger“by far than our Christoph” his own little brother.George Sophie’s older little brother, no longer a toddler. The Doctor-Who had never had the chance to hear the opening of "The Blue Flower" but if he had done so he could have said immediately what he thought it meant.The MandelslohSophie’s Companion, a mature, attractive married woman.Sophie's Tutor A man who could teach her nothing.TB: Tabes mesenterica -Tuberculosis of the mesenteric and retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Sometimes manifests as Tuberculosis of lymph glands inside the abdomen. I read somewhere that it was thought to be an illness of children caused by drinking milk from cows infected with TB. (Now uncommon as milk is pasteurized ) Act One, Scene One: Germany late 1700s at Weißenfels in Saxony on the River SaaleFritz is chasing The Bernhard among some barges moored together.Fritz: "Bernhard!"Catching hold of the child’s wrist as he falls between two barges being forced together by the waters. The Bernhard: "I will never come back, Let me go, let me die!"Fritz: "Make an effort! Do you want to drown?"The Berhard: “Would it matter if I did?”Fritz: To audience while hauling his little brother into his arms, "How heavy a child is when it gives up responsibility". Act One, Scene Two at Sophie’s House:Fritz sees Sophie, falls in love. Sophie plays with her little brother, Gunther. George: To Fritz, "Your horse is an old nag."Gunther: coughs.Fritz: To Sophie, ignoring George, “He smiles and coughs at us all alike, I'm flattered when my turn comes.“Sophie: smiles at GuntherFritz: smiles at Sophie, “Sophie -be my guardian spirit”Act Two, Scene One at Sophie’s HouseSophie: to Fritz & her companion, the Mandelsloh, "I have a pain in my left side, and that is not my own doing.” Laughs.Fritz:smiles, departs room. The Mandelsloh to Sophie: “He could have heard you!, do you want him to know you are sick?”Sophie: “He took no notice . . . I laughed and so he did not notice it”.Act Two, Scene Two in Sophie’s room. Everyone is there from Fritz and Sophie’s families as Sophie’s old tutor reads from Cicero. People laugh, dogs jump about and Sophie coughs. A doctor enters with his black bag. Narrator: “The Doctor had never had the chance to hear the opening of The Blue Flower" but if he had done so he could have said immediately what he thought it meant”Tutor:turning away from the assembled characters, to audience, visibly giving up, perhaps even shrugging“ I can’t continue . . . after all, these people were born for joy !“Doctor : Examines Sophie ” She has TB. The most usual signs and symptoms are the appearance of a chronic, painless mass in the neck, which is persistent and usually grows with time. The mass is referred to as a "cold abscess", because there is no accompanying local color or warmth and the overlying skin acquires a violaceous (bluish-purple) color. Scrofula caused by tuberculosis is usually accompanied by other symptoms of the disease, such as fever, chills, malaise and weight loss. As the lesion progresses, the skin becomes adhered to the mass and may rupture, forming a sinus and an open wound."The Bernhard:over the clamor in the room, to audience, . “Everyone else heard what I did, and yet none of them paid him serious attention."The Curtain DropsFinale The narrator's voice says: “They will nearly all die of TB, except The Bernhard, the water will get him first of all after Sophie.The End.(hide spoiler)]Give me Shakespeare's tragi-comedy over Fitzgerald's romance any day, unless that is what this really is? 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  • Althea Ann
    2019-04-27 02:32

    I picked up this book because it had a pretty cover. I noticed it had a blurb on the front from A.S. Byatt, whom I rather like, and it also noted that the author, Fitzgerald, was a winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. So I looked at the back cover, and saw that it was a historical novel about the early life of the German Romantic poet Novalis - which was quite a coincidence, since I'd just that month been reading about Novalis and looking at some of his poetry online. So I grabbed it!However, at first I couldn't get into the book, and as I read through it, it began to actively annoy me.Fitzgerald obviously did a lot of research for the book, reading Novalis' letters, writings, documents from the time period... (late 18th-century).Unfortunately, rather than working these period details subtly into the narrative, she just bluntly inserts random facts into the text, even when they don't really serve a purpose in the story. It's distracting, and struck me as poor writing technique.Her personal, 20th-century opinion on everything also shines through - and it's not a positive opinion. In my opinion, the 'job' of historical fiction is to take the reader into the time and place described, and to make the reader see things from the characters' point of view. Instead, we find out that Penelope Fitzgerald thinks that people in 18th-century Germany ate disgusting cuisine, were unhygenic, penurious - and for some reason she seems to think they were always freezing cold, even though Germany has a mild climate and particularly nice summers. I'm sorry, but if the characters would think that a pig's nostril was a delicacy, I want to FEEL that it's a delicacy while I'm reading the book. I don't care if the author personally thinks it's gross. By the end of the book, I wondered why she even chose to write about these people, since her opinion of not only their culture and lifestyle - but of them personally - was so low.Fritz (Novalis) is portrayed as faintly ridiculous and a cad, and his love interest, the young Sophie, as air-headed and ugly. Both of their families come across as caricatures - one of the ridiculously strict and religious variety, and one of the jolly yet greedy and grasping type... I can certainly appreciate books where the characters are all unlikable - but I didn't get the impression that these people really were, historically, that bad - just that Fitzgerald personally regards them with a kind of snide contempt. There's no one in the novel that the reader gets to even really, feel that you know, due to the distancing style of the writing. Fitzgerald uses an odd style of referring to people using an article: "The Bernhard," "The Mandelsloh." Even if this was a custom at the time (I don't know if it was - it's not a modern German usage), such a construction should be saved for dialogue, not when the author is talking about her characters.I couldn't believe the multiple pages of rave reviews printed inside the front of the book - I really didn't think it was impressive in any way.

  • Francisco H. González
    2019-05-23 03:21

    Antes de pasar a la posteridad como Novalis, el romántico Friederich von Hardenberg, se enamoró de una joven de doce años. No sabemos si Hardenberg se enamoró de la niña, del concepto del amor, de su juventud, de su inocencia, de su aura virginal o de todo ello. La narración no es erótica, ni hay ningún asomo de voluptuosidad. Lo que Hardenberg siente por Sophie es algo más platónico. La chica, como le hacen ver los allegados de él no tiene nada extraordinario, sino más bien una belleza distraída y la naturaleza de una niña de doce años. La autora, Penelope Fitzgerald (Lincoln, 1916) mediante capítulos muy breves nos presenta a Herdenberg, a su familia y sus innumerables hermanos, sus padres, sus amistades, el círculo de Jena, del que forma parte, y por ahí pululan Goethe, Fitche, lecturas de Robison Crusoe del Wilhelm Meister. De fondo, las consecuencias de la revolución francesa, el auge de Napoleón, los estertores del siglo XVIII. El ritmo de la narración es endiablado, sumamente ameno, la autora apenas se impone y su breve narración resulta límpida, subyugante y trágica. Personajes como Bernhard surgen y perduran con apenas dos trazos. Aquellos que conozcan algo de la vida de Novalis sabrán la mala suerte que corrió Sophie y buena parte de los hermanos de Novalis. Tras la muerte de su amada (Sophie muere al poco de cumplir los 15 años) Novalis sabe que tendrá una vida interesante (y desgraciadamente muy corta, pues murió a los 29 años), a pesar de lo cual, preferiría estar muerto, dice. La figura de Hardenberg antes de ser un poeta reconocido, fama que le vino tras morir Sophie, combinará su labor como poeta, con la de ingeniero empleado como director de minas de sal, algo que a él le resultará de lo más natural. ¿Podría alguien que no fuese un artista, un poeta, comprender la relación entre las rocas y las constelaciones? se pregunta. Mondadori. 230 páginas. 1998. Traducción de Fernando Borrajo.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-04-26 05:35

    In its first chapters this novel sprays a fine tangy mist over your face, like coming across the sea after many months inland. Hoopla! We're in for some fun. But - after a while this novel becomes the so-amusing toy whose batteries keep it chirping and beeping long after it should have glided behind the chest of drawers of oblivion. Our smile has faded. And finally this novel is like your elderly female relative who has a superstitious horror of naming anything directly, and will use every last possible circumlocution, and whose conversation, I'm sorry to report, revolves dispiritingly around and about and in and through the dozen people she's ever known in her long life, and the five places she's ever been.Poor PenelopeWe still hear her late at nightWhirring helplessly.

  • Beni Morse
    2019-05-17 05:40

    Stunning. Every single sentence is purposeful and unimprovable. It evokes the world of 18th-century Germany with such vividness and authority and ease, while feeling nothing like a historical novel. I can't think of a book that achieves a more beautiful balance between gravity and lightness, poetry and philosohy. The Blue Flower is eseentially about the nature of love and why we sometimes (often?) choose such odd candidates as the objects of our deepest affection.

  • Julia
    2019-05-16 10:20

    Ich habe Die blaue Blume aus der Reihe der Süddeutsche Bibliothek bei meinem Bruder aus dem Bücherregal gezogen und war mir nicht sicher ob meiner Erwartungshaltungen gegenüber dem schmalen Bändchen. Penelope Fitzgerald schreibt ähnlich wie Antonia S.Byatt einen Stil, der an eine Tuschezeichnung erinnert, fein, zierlich, detailgenau - doch nicht wie in The Children's Book, das ein wenig blutleer bleibt, ist die Blaue Blume voll von den Gerüchen, Farben und Atmosphären der Epoche Novalis', Fichtes und Goethes. Egal, ob es sich um die Hauptpersonen der kurzen Geschichte des Büchleins handelt oder um eine der zahlreich auftretenden Nebenfiguren an einem der vielen Schauplätze - Fitzgerald schafft es, dem Golem Leben einzuhauchen mit wenigen Sätzen, unaufdringlich, fast unmerkbar bekommen diese nicht nur Kontur, sondern auch Körper und eine Stimme, und der Leser merkt erst beim Nachwort, wie sehr ihm alle ans Herz gewachsen sind. Ein Meisterwerk der Schlichtheit und der Akkuratesse!

  • إيمان
    2019-05-11 05:30

    تنتمي هذه الرواية الى جنس البيوغرافيا اذ أنها "تؤرخ" لحياة الشاعر الألماني نوفاليس أحد رواد الرومانسيةيحسب للكاتبة الانجليزية بينلوبي فيتجيرالد نقلها الدقيق لألمانيا القرن الثامن عشر من خلال الاهتمام بتفاصيل الحياة الاجتماعية حينا و الحرص على ابراز خصوصية البلدات الألمانية أحيانا أخرىلكن ذلك لا يخفي وهنا في سرد الأحداث التي كثيرا ما اتسمت بالبطئ الشديد ما جعل الرواية ثقيلة الوطأة على النفس في عدة مواضعزد على ذلك الترجمة التي أكد المترجم على الصعوبات التي واجهها في نقل هذا العمل للعربية، خاصة اذا ما ذكرنا ان النسخة الأصلية احتوت على عدة عبارات بالألمانية مظمنة في النص الانجليزي، تأكيدا من الكاتبة على الاطار الذي تدور فيه أحداث الرواية.طبعا المجهود المبذول واضح و لكنه جاء على حساب جمالية النص و لا أراه قدم للقارئ المقصد وراء عدة استعارات تمت26/ 07 /2016

  • Adam Dalva
    2019-04-26 04:28

    Lovely, odd piece of historical fiction packed with memorable characters whose seemingly minor actions congeal into a sweeping representation of the late eighteenth century. While Novalis's romance with a young girl is certainly the emotional core of the novel, I'll remember his siblings and the wonderful Karoline for just as long. Fitzgerald, whose late blooming career is fascinating in and of itself, has a very light touch and a clear affection for the source material, which is presented seamlessly. You wouldn't think from the description that this a breezy read, but it flies on by.

  • Vicky
    2019-05-11 05:38

    This novel was puzzlingly overpraised, and I'm not sure why. It is empty, cold, mean-spirited and does not allow us to sympathize with, or even understand, the characters. It purports to tell the story of the German Romantic poet Novalis's infatuation with a 12-year-old girl, but it doesn't help us to understand this strange situation. What *is* the narrative aiming toward? Sometimes it seems to simply want to mock and diminish its characters or to display a minute knowledge of the period.

  • Hadrian
    2019-05-11 09:38

    German salt miner writes about poetry and falls in love with a girl half his age, and dies just old enough to be past the 27 Club.

  • Irene
    2019-05-14 04:46

    I loved the droll humor and the use of language in this historical novel, but I was confused by the characters and uncertainly what the author was trying to get at.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-16 05:18

    True story. 18th Century poet falls for plain gal. Tis about inexplicable love. Such as directed at this novel. ;)Romanticism turned to tedium. *gahs*

  • مروان البلوشي
    2019-05-06 03:29

    تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠٨رواية عن حب متأخر وتحرر مبكر..ليست باهرة..جيدة

  • Catie
    2019-04-30 06:24

    Read in June 2016 as a buddy read on IG. I found it quite difficult to get into the book at first. It took me about 50 pages before I could clearly grasp the characters, the subject matter and where the novel was going. Honestly, if it hadn't been for a book group read, I probably would have DNF'd after the first few chapters.I found the prose a little clumsy and monotonous and none of the characters quite likeable. For a highly praised book, I did have a bit of a problem seeing why??Quite a few of my fellow readers mentioned their love of the subtle humor in the book. Again, I may be obtuse, but I didn't see it as humorous until it was pointed out. Many of the parts deemed as humorous I felt couldn't necessarily be pulled out of the narrative as examples. In my opinion the humor was more of an undertone throughout the novel.Upon reflection and after finishing the novel, the redeeming quality of this book is Fitzgerald's writing style - there's something about it that does hook. I am up to reading more of her novels before I give my final verdict of yay or nay. Once I gave the book a chance, her understated writing style is riddled with wit, acute perception and a mastery of language that is quite beautiful. I also enjoyed how Fitzgerald rewarded creative effort, and the discovery of one's own self in the novel. I think my main issue was approaching this book as a standard novel with a typical layout. By doing so, I wasn't able to grasp the narrative style as quickly as I would have liked, and made the reading a bit taxing. In Fitzgerald's own words in regards to the brevity of her novels, "I do leave a lot out and trust the reader really to be able to understand it. [My books are] about twice the length...when they're first finished, but I cut all of it out. It's just an insult to [readers] to explain everything."Now I get it...

  • Chana
    2019-05-11 05:28

    This book is perfect but I am not sure why. It is absolutely captivating from the first words on, it never bogs down, it is neither too many words nor too little, it is a complete world. As soon as I finished it I fell asleep and dreamed that I was terribly ill as I was still so immersed in the book. All day I have not been ready to pick up another book and finally this evening have selected a housecleaning book as I still want to savor this novel and I can do that while I clean.

  • RH Walters
    2019-05-19 03:26

    Begins with the house's biyearly laundry tumbling out the windows and ends in cold water. Quirky, sad and atmospheric.

  • Angie
    2019-04-29 03:27

    I loved this book a great deal. It is incredibly simply written but so cleverly put together that there are real moments where you cannot help but be in awe of Fitzgerald. Her touch with words, is simple but oh so subtle that one cannot help but feel emotions ranging from sadness, intense humour and curiosity.Each chapter is short, almost vignette like in 3 or 4 pages, and although there is a narrative running throughout, each short story has a point to it which may or may not be relevant to the story threading through it but each one is utterly charming, cleverly written with a dry wit and humour and depicting a remarkable family life set in the 1790's in Germany. The youth of the romantic German poet later known as Novalis is painted with such simplicity that it proves completely that literary effect does not always equal long and detailed description in order to touch you or cause profound impact.The family depiction of Fritz and his parents and brothers and sisters was funny, entertaining and very endearing and in the few well chosen words so brilliantly written, came alive in this lovely book which I would keep and read again in the future.

  • Luckngrace
    2019-05-25 08:22

    This Booker Prize winner is a fascinating study of life in late 17th-century Germany. One hilarious anecdote concerned washing clothes. Most of the upper-class families did the washing every 3 months. One man on the household owned 69 shirts. Our protagonist, Fridrich's family did the wash only once a year. There were 14 children in the family and numerous servants. This was before washers and dryers were invented. It blows my mind--and that isn't even what the book is about.The book is a biographical snapshot of perhaps the most important 3 years in the life and love of the poet known as Novalis. He grew up in so large a family that children weren't always watched and diseases of the time spread unchecked. He wasn't suited for much other than poetry, but was forced to manage a salt mine because it was acceptable employment for impoverished royalty. But the REAL story revolves around the 12 year old girl he fell in love with. If you read The Blue Flower, you'll gasp at the ending...This should be required reading for high schools everywhere.

  • Eva Kristin
    2019-04-30 04:31

    Well. I admit I didn’t get this one. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s short. What a pointless read. None of the characters left an impression on me, except for a vague respect for the capable and patient Sidonie and Frederike, and a vague dislike for the self-centered Bernhard. It seems everyone in this book meets with a tragic ending, but frankly, I don’t really care. I guess Fitzgerald just isn’t for me.

  • Selvi
    2019-05-16 09:38

    My favorite novel, I think. Somehow it floods the senses with the time and place (or her rendering of it). It reminds me of hyldeblomstsaft, the concentrated elderflower syrup that they use to make a drink in Denmark that will conjur up summer in mid-January. I love it (and her)for that quality. All of her writing is like that, but this one is the best.