Theodor Fontane: In the Footsteps of a German Literary Classic | Finding Fontane in Brandenburg

We begin at the end. Here lies
Theodore Fontane and his dear wife Emily. Germany is marking the 200th anniversary
of the great poet, travel writer and novelists birth and I’m celebrating by
going on a journey in Fontane’s footsteps through Brandenburg. Join me and my trusty ebike in search of Fontane. Is the old master of letters still
relevant in the 21st century? Fontane 2.0! First stopis the little town of Ribbeck, Fontane’s most famous poem is about Sir Ribbeck of Ribbeck in Havelland, who gives pears to the local children. On his deathbed he worries that his miserly son won’t, so he has a pear tree planted in his grave. I’m meeting the descendants of the real
life’ Sir Ribbeck at the famous pear tree itself. ….the tree! This is the tree? That’s the tree. It’s a follower of the tree The fourth generation, yes? Yes. there are no pairs on the tree because it’s summer. You have to wait a little bit longer
until… Hey, wait a minute, but what’s this? Look! Oh! You see that? Yes, that looks like a pear Oh look at that amazing. Neuruppin is the town where the great
writer was born. I’m meeting the man who knows everything about what Fontana
liked to eat and drink Max Golda is the proprietor of the “Altes Casino” Restaurant He’s put Fontane on the map and on the menu. I searched for three months
all the books and letters – what he wrote and such for the food what he really ate. Okay so what’s this? Beef broth… Yes. He wrote in a letter to his wife that he has a cold and so he said that he should eat beef broth. Okay very good let’s try. Yeah. enjoy it! Thank you! Oh! Delicious? Very good, yeah. Fontane was not a vegan! No, not really. Not really a vegan… Fontane was born on the first floor of this house in Neuruppin. His father ran this pharmacy. Now it’s in new hands Is it a big responsibility to
run the famous Fontane pharmacy? The profession is a big responsibility in
itself and you have the responsibility to preserve the history, the original
features and window-dressing. Fontane’s father lost the pharmacy due to his gambling addiction Yes that’s right that’s why the family only lived here for a short while. But I don’t gamble it won’t happen to me – hopefully…. On the 20th of May 1868 it is written, that he now eats the “Ruppiner Trout” Okay. Fontane is looking at me rather critically. I think he will say
“Okay it looks delicious, I will have something, too.” The Main Fontane 200 Exhibition is taking place at the Stadtmuseum Neuruppin. There’s a whole room dedicated to Fontane’s most famous novel “Effie Briest.” I am here to meet the mayor of Neuruppin and have a close encounter with a very special Fontane relic. This is really an authentic relic from Fontane’s life We can be 100% sure that Fontane’s fingerprints are on it. You can hear the ticking a little bit. Oh, yes! Oooh..I feel a bit……strange. His mother wrote about it and it’s a small cake and it’s baked with some nuts and black bread. And the pear is a bit of a chaser for the cake, yeah? Yeah. It makes it a little bit fruity and salty. You see . . . the red
fills it, makes it all violet, so it’s perfect. Our final destination is the
Kornspeicher in Alt-Ruppin. Much of the soundtrack to our journey has been provided by a local music group “Club der toten Dichter”, who rehearse here. I’m here to meet two members of the club of dead poet’s, whose latest CD has turned the
poetry of Fontane into wonderful music. Fontana actually … poet, one
could ask what took you so long to get to him. It just wasn’t his turn yet
and then he came to mind again and there was the anniversary and someone
approached me. The trick is to keep going at it and eventually the poet will say
I’m letting you in I think he’s very relevant especially due to his clear and
simple was maybe not the right word in English but clear language and I think
he could inspire us to slow down a little bit and take care of not only
what we hear but also what we read my journey is almost at an end along the
way the people I met were keen to underline how modern Fontana is and how
he still has plenty to say to people in the 21st century if you go into the
woods today and you take his travel guide and read how he described it you
will see not much has really changed sense of humor
he was very ironic in his lifetime he was very interested in strong women my
journey has come full circle now and brought me closer to the great man Fontana was perhaps a proto feminist his
writing feels just as fresh and relevant now as it did then but the biggest
lesson I’ve learnt is to take time to appreciate nature and the largely
unchanged landscapes Fontana loved

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