Utopia in the age of Realism: Theodor Fontane's Quitt

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The principal argument of this essay is that Theodor Fontane’s Quitt (1890) can be read as a critical engagement with utopianism. Quitt has previously been analysed as a utopian novel in a narrow sense, specifically because of the Mennonite community in America in which the second half of the novel is set. This analysis is unsatisfactory, however, because it ignores other, associated facets of utopian ways of thinking which permeate the novel, from imagining a happier elsewhere, to political ideologies, to ideals of human conduct. This essay proposes an interpretation of the novel in which ideals of various kinds function within the perception of reality, but can also be morally dangerous when they lead human beings away from a positive engagement with the reality in which they find themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalILCEA: Revue de l'Institut des langues et cultures d'Europe, Amérique, Afrique, Asie et Australie (Universite de Grenoble)
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018


  • Quitt
  • Fontane
  • Utopia
  • Realism
  • Perception


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