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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 70/100: Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Undine - Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Even though I just finished this book yesterday, I feel the need to write my review quickly because it's a story that seems to slide out of my mind; when I would walk away from it and come back, it often took me a moment to reorient myself to this strange little story. Perhaps such slipperiness is appropriate for a story about a volatile water creature, but everything just felt so wishy-washy to me that I had trouble finding much to hold onto. Undine was a spoiled child or an angelic woman. Huldebrand loved Undine passionately, then loved Bertalda, then Undine, then ... and Bertalda was a selfish snob, then a humble daughter, a passionate friend or a deceitful hussy. All said, I was irritated enough with Huldebrand's inability to commit that I really thought he deserved whatever Undine's vengeful uncle could throw at him.

Despite it being an old story (published 1811), the prose was quite easy to read, and there were some moments of heartbreak and beauty. As partial inspiration for The Little Mermaid, it was interesting to see the comparisons -- a mermaid who loves a human and gains a soul, a human man with a wavering heart, etc. But this lacks the heart of Andersen's classic, which may be why it won't stay with me in the same way.