The Blue Flower

by Penelope Fitzgerald | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0006550193 Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 7/5/2004
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9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, July 05, 2004
Penelope Fitzgerald's last novel her 'masterpiece' apparently? Bought cheaply with The Times. (wrong cover)

(30/05) I might need a second opinion on this. There is no doubt that PF is seriously on top of her game, pick any page and find an intelligent passage, a clever quote or a philosophical bon mot. This is a rich and hypnotic mixture of historical semi-biographical detail, family saga & love story; but I found it all a bit too controlled, maybe moving away from subjects (and times) that she knows first hand, mean that the research is more obvious resulting in a corresponding lack of ‘reality’ (C18th Saxony/Thuringia) All this said, you will see from the collection of quotes below, this is lovely prose, and Fitzgerald continues to impress me with the quality and range of her writing.

The underlying story of an ill-matched couple, the poetic and brilliant Friedrich ‘Fritz’ von Hardenberg later to write under the pen name Novalis, and his much younger, plain and simple intended, his “heart’s heart” Sophie is played to a sad but predictable ending. The selfish and sardonic younger brother Bernhard, or The Bernhard as he is called, reminded me a little or Owen Meany, and the whole thing had a feel of ‘Candide’ about it – with Fritz exposed as having a weakness for vanity and gesture, and lacking in moral strength, whereas the innocent Sophie grows into a quietly sympathetic figure. The siblings Sidonie & Erasmus (Fritz) and George & ‘The Mandelsloh’ (Sophie), passive mothers, flawed fathers and a huge cast of family and acquaintances act out this play in 55 chapters around the leads.

Last, but not least, the ‘Blue Flower’ as a metaphor crops up several times, as part of a dream opening of a story by Fritz – unpublished – and I must admit I didn’t fully understand it :(

Some lovely extracts, IMHO:

Fritz meets Sophie for the face time, she is looking away out of a window, wanting snow, “Let time stand still until she turns around”.

“Language refers only to itself, is not the key to anything higher. Language speaks, because speaking is its pleasure and it can do nothing else”

Fritz is caught in a snowstorm and forced to spend time at the home of Sophie, “…who can do anything against Fate? I have decided that I am a Determinist. Fate might not be so kind another time”

“Come, we’re Saxons. We can make a good dinner, even if our hearts are breaking”

“…time given to wishing for what can’t be is not only spent, but wasted…”

Sophie’s tutor detaching himself from her illness and emotions, “My feelings do not matter in the slightest degree. If they did, I should not have become a teacher”


Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I'm keeping this back for the unconvention, possibly

Journal Entry 3 by Semioticghost from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, June 09, 2007
Warmly recommended by BOokGroupMan, so I decided to pick it up despite the crushing size of my to-be-read pile.

Journal Entry 4 by Semioticghost from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, July 12, 2007
Fitzgerald is renowned as a biographer and critic, but her fictional foray into what might have been the early life of poet and philosopher Novalis didn’t really impress me. It's beautifully written and could could have been a stunning novella, but unfortunately, she tried to stretch it into a novel and the narrative could not carry it.
This is my second opinion, BGM - sorry for being so scathing. I suspect I might just not have been in the right place for this. She's overly heavy handed with her metaphors, too. I think she tried to be A.S. Byatt with this, and could not quite hold it together. I don't know whether that makes any sense?


Journal Entry 5 by Scatz from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, August 11, 2007
Picked up at Ipswich meeting.

Journal Entry 6 by Scatz from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, April 22, 2010
At last this book has escaped from the TBR pile.
The book is beautifully written with little nuggets of inventive prose but it really did not engage me.
Thanks BGM.

Journal Entry 7 by MrsDanvers at Ely, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Thursday, June 10, 2010
This little flower has come into my hands and I've already started reading it. I'm rather enjoying Fritz's student days and the curious home life of his family.

Journal Entry 8 by MrsDanvers at Ely, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Friday, May 10, 2013
Like other reviewers I found the writing beautiful, but I didn't feel hugely moved by the story. Perhaps someone more appreciative can be found.

Journal Entry 9 by MrsDanvers at CoffeeLink, Neptune Marina in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Friday, May 10, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (5/11/2013 UTC) at CoffeeLink, Neptune Marina in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Hi and if you are new to all this, welcome to Bookcrossing.
It would really be appreciated if you would make a comment about the book, where you found it and what you thought of it.
The book is now yours to read, keep, or pass it on. We'd like to know where it travels to, and if you don't want to join you can do this anonymously.
If you would like to know what happens to the book after you have passed it on please join. It doesn't cost anything, it's private and it's interesting to travel by proxy around the world.
If you do join, I hope you'll put my name down - mrsdanvers - as your referring member.

Journal Entry 10 by 666Izzy at Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, May 11, 2013
I thought I'd give this a go, as the last time Semioticghost loved a book I hated it, so maybe I'll love the one she hates :-)

Journal Entry 11 by 666Izzy at Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I enjoyed this book, with its quirky mix of philosophy and biography. It was a good, fun read that I thoroughly recommend.

Journal Entry 12 by 666Izzy at Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Monday, June 24, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (6/24/2013 UTC) at Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Posted to jule5.

Journal Entry 13 by jules5 at Darlington, County Durham United Kingdom on Saturday, June 29, 2013
Thank you:) 666Izzyfor the thoughtful RABCK... one from my wishlist and next on my tbr. Thanks again

Journal Entry 14 by jules5 at Darlington, County Durham United Kingdom on Saturday, August 03, 2013
When I'd read the comments from the other readers, and A.S.Byatt was mentioned, my heart sank. I couldn't bear another 'talked at' book by a Byatt wannabe. Happily, this was a treat. On first reading, it was a bit peculiar, almost as if it were translated badly by a Stella Gibbons character. I persevered and it completely grabbed me. Fritz' family was so warm and funny and odd and the Bernhard was such a wonderful creature, I wished for more of him. The 'nothing much happened' of Sophie's diary just made me laugh..she is such a 12 year old, what on earth was Fritz on..and then Erasmus too! I must admit it dragged on a bit at the end as it lost it's sparkle as how to bring the story around. The afterword was like a silent credit at the end of a film, 'what's happened to each of the characters'. It's usually a large proportion of them dying before their time and the rest living out terribly nice, but boring existences. Thank you so much for an happy week's reading:)

Journal Entry 15 by jules5 at Swansea, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, August 12, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (8/13/2013 UTC) at Swansea, Wales United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Wish granted (* Enjoy... :)

Journal Entry 16 by Originalmulli at Llandyfriog, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Thanks so much to jules5 for sending me this book from my Wishlist! I'd forgotten all about it, so it was a lovely surprise to be contacted. I put it on my wishlist because it was mentioned in this very inspiring book: http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9710451/

I found this a really strange read...it's very rare for me to feel that I just "don't get" a book but I think I have to say that about this one. I could not love anything about it, however hard I tried. As a few others have mentioned, the language read to me like a very bad translation - sometimes a poor choice of words, other times just plain old bad grammar!! I persevered but was never rewarded - the story and characters did nothing for me. It hasn't entirely put me off Penelope Fitzgerald, I'll try to get a few more of hers and see if this is just an anomaly!

Thanks again for sharing it, I'll hopefully be moving it on soon.

Journal Entry 17 by Originalmulli at Llandyfriog, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, September 05, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (9/5/2013 UTC) at Llandyfriog, Wales United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

That was quick!! Off to Finland to grant a wishlist wish. :)

Journal Entry 18 by sannuli at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland on Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thank you for the book!! :)

Journal Entry 19 by sannuli at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland on Monday, December 29, 2014
I think I missed the point of this book. Before I realised book has to be read with thought and time, it felt terribly boring. When I read with thought and time I liked it a lot but in the end what does it actually say. I feel confused after finishing it as I really can't grasp much to say. It's a book. That's it. Very neutral feelings.

Journal Entry 20 by sannuli at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Released 4 yrs ago (4/18/2015 UTC) at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

To Soozreader, happy reading :)

Journal Entry 21 by wingSoozreaderwing at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland on Saturday, April 18, 2015
Thank you for the book sannuli!:)

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