Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Fouqué, Friedrich, Baron de la Motte

(1777-1843) German soldier and writer, best-known for his Fantasy Undine (1811; trans George Soane as Undine: A Romance 1818 UK), which has become one of the classics of German literature. It tells of a husband and wife whose daughter is lost, believed drowned. They take in a Changeling – in fact, an Elemental – whom they call Undine. She falls in love with a knight, Huldbrand, and thereby acquires a Soul. Huldbrand subsequently loves another and Undine is banished, but she returns on his wedding night to exact her Vengeance. FF adapted his story as the libretto for the Opera Undine (1816) by E T A Hoffmann. (see also Undine.)

Undine drew upon the Melusine legend (see Lamia) so beloved by the German Romantics (see Romanticism), of whom FF was a leading light. His works in general engendered national pride during the Napoleonic Wars, and for a period he was Germany's most popular writer. He was the first to adapt the legend of Siegfried in his play Sigurd (1808), to which he later added Sigurd's Rache (1810) and Aslaugas Ritter (1810; trans as "Aslauga's Knights" in German Romance ed Thomas Carlyle anth 1827 UK), the three forming the trilogy Der Held des Nordens ["The Hero of the North"], which hugely influenced Richard Wagner.

Der Zauberring (1813; trans as The Magic Ring 1825 UK), about a knight who acquires a magical Ring and uses it in his many Quests against evil forces, is the archetypal novel of Heroic Fantasy. Sintram (1815; trans as Sintram and His Companions 1820 UK) – inspired by the engraving "The Knight, Death and the Devil" (1513) by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) – is an Allegory on human life. FF wrote a number of shorter stories, most of which also drew on legend, although his best-known, "Das Galgenmännlein" (1814; trans as "The Bottle Imp" in Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations anth 1823 UK), is a further example of the Three-Wishes motif; Robert Louis Stevenson later wrote his own version.

FF assembled his collected works as Ausgabe letzter Hand ["Collected Works"] (coll 1841 12 vols). The English-language equivalent was the 6-vol Fouqué's Works (1845 UK) ed James Burn, whose second volume, Romantic Fiction, includes most of FF's shorter fantasies. FF's main works are more readily available as Undine, and Sintram and His Companions (coll 1845 US; vt Sintram and His Companions, and Undine 1896 UK) and Sintram and His Companions; Aslauga's Knight (coll 1887 UK). [MA]

Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Baron de la Motte Fouqué


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.