Realism on Stage: Reflections on Language in Theodor Fontane’s Theatre Reviews

Clarissa Blomqvist


Theodor Fontane is known for devoting a large proportion of his novels to conversations between his characters. By giving his characters their own particular tone, Fontane uses language as a means of characterization and adds to the realism of the narration. Not only in Fontane’s novels, but also in his critical writing does language play a major role. In his theater reviews Fontane combines his criticism of dramatists, dramas, performances and actors with reflections on language which shed light on his aesthetic beliefs as a realist. Disapproving of artificial poetic language, Fontane favours simple language which optimally matches the situation. According to Fontane, the choice of language is vital for the effect of a play performed on stage. It is particularly the dramatist’s ability of finding the right tone which determines the success of creating a realistic representation of life in the dramatic art form, of putting realism on stage. (CB)

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