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Lewald, Fanny

LEWALD, FANNY

LEWALD, FANNY (1811–1889), German writer and publicist. Born in Koenigsberg as Fanny Markus, her Jewish merchant father changed the family name to Lewald once the family converted to Protestantism in 1828. In 1843 Fanny Lewald moved to Berlin, where she kept company with Varnhagen von Ense, Henriette Herz, Luise Muehlbach, Heinrich Laube, and especially with Therese von Bacheracht. Her first novels appeared anonymously already in 1842, such as Clementine, Jenny (1843), and Eine Lebensfrage (2 vols., 1845). Clementine broaches the issue of married women; Jenny taxes the Christian reader on the question of Jewish emancipation. Eine Lebensfrage is a plea for divorce and free choice of a spouse. Lewald was one of the first German female authors to be a successful professional writer. Her novels and her essays treated issues of the day and more than anything female emancipation, as in Einige Gedanken ueber Maedchenerziehung und Andeutungen ueber die Lage der weiblichen Dienstboten (1843), Osterbriefe fuer die Frauen (1863), and Fuer und wider die Frauen (1870). The narration Sarah (1851) deals with female as well as Jewish emancipation and remained the only story with a decidedly non-assimilated portrayal of Jewishness. Lewald exchanged ideas with Eugene Niboyet, the publisher of the French journal Les voix des femmes, which supported equality in marriage and the right to divorce, education, and work for women. However, Lewald's own writing is nonetheless marked by a discrepancy between this progressive stance and her approval of weak, subservient female characters in her novels, such as Jenny or Clementine. Since she earned her living by writing Lewald had to bow to the tastes of middle-class readers, as in Die Kammerjungfer (3 vols., 1856) and Die Familie Darner (3 vols., 1888). Lewald became famous for her travel writing, for example Italienisches Bilderbuch (2 vols., 1847), in which she combined personal experience with historical and cultural background material. Lewald's political views can be seen in Die anschaulichen Erinnerungen aus dem Jahr 1848 (2 vols., 1850), which expresses democratic ideas. At the same time Lewald was disillusioned by the revolution in Germany, regretting the strident debates resulting from the polarization of right and left in the Prussian Assembly, which she communicated to Heinrich Heine in the summer of 1848. Her Lebensgeschichte (6 vols., 1861–63), written in the tradition of a classical autobiography, Zwoelf Bilder aus dem Leben (1888), and Tagebuch Gefuehltes und Gedachtes (6 vols., 1838–88) cover historical and political issues of the time.

bibliography:

K. Stoever, Leben und Wirken der Fanny Lewald: Grenzen und Moeglichkeiten einer Schriftstellerin im gesellschaftlichen Kontext des 19. Jahrhunderts (2004); V. van Ornam, Fanny Lewald and Nineteenth Century Constructions of Femininity (2002); G. Marci-Boehncke, Fanny Lewald: Juedin, Preussin, Schriftstellerin: Studien zu autobiographischem Werk und Kontext (1998); G. Schneider, Fanny Lewald (1996); idem, Vom Zeitroman zum "stylisierten" Roman: die Erzaehlerin Fanny Lewald (1993).

[Ann-Krisitn Koch (2nd ed.)]

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