I’ve recently read Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. Written in the early 1800s, it is a classic fairy tale in which Undine, an elemental water spirit, marries a human in order to gain a soul. It may be derived from the tale of Melusina. (I prefer Melusina, who seems to have a strength and power about her. Also, I loved the incorporation of the Melusina myth into the novel Possession by A.S. Byatt.)

Overall, Undine is a delightful read. I read widely, but my current preferred form of escapism is old texts where I can immerse myself in an antiquated cadence. I like the deliciousness of it. Sentences can often be unweildy and complex, forcing me to focus in a way entirely different from my experience with modern books. Although I love modern books too. I am a gluttonous reader, I shall savor the flavors of them all.

Writing this post, it occurs to me that I have a definite attraction for female characters associated with water:  Ophelia, The Lady of the Lake, Melusina and Undine.  Water is a powerful symbol.

I do not normally share images here that are not  strictly Pre-Raphaelite, but I love these images of Undine. John William Waterhouse is often referred to as Pre-Raphaelite, although to be accurate we should say he is Pre-Raphaelite in style. Arthur Rackham is one of my favorite illustrators, and has given life to many familiar works such as Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, The Ring and more.

Undine by John William Waterhouse:

A few Arthur Rackham illustrations of Undine:

My absolute favorite. Undine lost in the Danube:

12 thoughts on “Undine”

  1. I saw the movie on Amazon.com as my curiosity was awakened by all these stories of sea creatures. I had to watch it two times as the local dialect was hard for me to understand. I thought it was a good movie with a strange twist at the end.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this. Have you read Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country? The main character’s name is Undine (named after Undine the water spirit.

    Beautiful post….lovely artwork.


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