German Journal Sprache Literatur Kultur


This article investigates affinities in George Eliot’s “Felix Holt: the Radical” and Theodor Fontane’s “Frau Jenny Treibel.” Both texts present suggestive narratological and thematic affinities in how the 19th-century female identity is articulated within the socio-political framework of society novels. This analysis interrogates the boundaries of a ‘sentimental education’ to uncover deeper layers distinguishing Bildung from Herzensbildung, thereby placing greater emphasis on women’s romantic education in the public performance of identity.

“[T]here is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life... ”

-George Eliot, Felix Holt: The Radical

“Männer männlich, Weiber weiblich.”

-Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest