The Blue Flowerby Penelope Fitzgerald
In eighteenth-century Germany, the impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis seeks his father's permission to wed his true philosophy -- a plain, simple child named Sophie. The attachment shocks his family and friends. This brilliant young man, betrothed to a twelve-year-old dullard! How can it be? A literary sensation… See more details below
In eighteenth-century Germany, the impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis seeks his father's permission to wed his true philosophy -- a plain, simple child named Sophie. The attachment shocks his family and friends. This brilliant young man, betrothed to a twelve-year-old dullard! How can it be? A literary sensation and a bestseller in England and the United States, The Blue Flower was one of eleven books- and the only paperback- chosen as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review. The 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner in Fiction.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.56(d)
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Meet the Author
PENELOPE FITZGERALD wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"
- Date of Birth:
- December 17, 1916
- Date of Death:
- May 3, 2000
- Place of Birth:
- Lincoln, England
- Place of Death:
- London, England
- Somerville College, Oxford University, 1939
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is possibly my favorite book of all time. I fell in love with the words, the pictures it allowed my mind to imagine, the characters, their joys and misfortunes. It is simply beautiful, so romantic and inspiring. Whenever I glimpse at it, it reminds me that no matter what happens, life is nothing without love.
Discover the poet Novalis and the historical setting of the 1700's in Fitzgerald's THE BLUE FLOWER. Her writing, as always, is truly unique and fascinating.
I enjoyed this for what it was supposed to be, a glimpse into the life of a poet and his unexplainable love for a young girl he considers his muse, his Philosophy. However, I did not find myself rooted to the story in anyway, it seemed plodding and pointless at times, especially for such a short novel. And I didn't really find in reading a reason for the acclaim it's received.
Cutting straight to the chase after reading the very polarized views of other reviewers: Although Penelope Fitzgerald's slender novel contains much to admire, it is most certainly not composed to be a popular entertainment, and its successes will appeal more to admirers of "literary fiction"--and, hence, to "critics"--than perhaps to the general reader. Fitzgerald presumes the reader knows something, and cares, about the late 18th Century context; she hopes we might be stimulated by imagining contemporaries of Fichte and Kant discussing their ideas; she presumes that, to us, "romanticism" is more than a word or a line from Shelly and that, by recovering, or compiling, everyday details from a time and world long lost, she can help us understand the romantic sensibility and, ultimately, Hardenberg's--and our--ambiguous longing for "the Blue Flower." I particularly enjoyed Fitzgerald's vignette approach--55 short chapters, each of which is a set piece, generally with a wry punchline--which allows Fitzgerald to view Friedrich von Hardenberg's improbable romance at odd angles. I for one marvel at this choice of subject, a decision by a professional author as seemingly improbable and hopelessly romantic as the subject itself. And yet, despite the author's absolute mastery of her material, her strong cast of winning characters, and the wonderful--although irretrievably high-brow--sense of humor suffusing the entire narrative, I never felt myself emotionally drawn in. One reads on because each page is delightful, and, for many readers (obviously, me included) this is sufficient. But on the basis of slender narrative evidence, we are expected to understand, rather than led toward empathy with, Hardenberg and his inconceivable attachment. Perhaps Fitzgerald's plan was, in writing the simplest of love stories, to avoid cluttering the universe with additional examples of cheap sentimentalism, leaving us with a "mystery of love." In different hands, the novel clearly might have become just that--dismissively sentimental. Instead, she goes the other way: Fitzgerald is a cool observer keenly attuned, in a very modern sense, to the ironies her story poses, but she never truly enages our hearts.
Really who cares about german poets except in germany?