Study Guide

Immensee

by Theodor Storm

Immensee Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Immensee

Immensee (Imm-uhn-ZEE). Site of the estate from which Reinhard Werner’s former schoolfriend Erich sends Elisabeth the canary that replaces the linnet he gave her before going away to university. Erich was given the estate by his father. When Reinhard first visits the Immensee as Erich’s guest, some years after Elisabeth’s marriage to Erich, the estate is blue and calm, surrounded by green sunlit woods. The red roof of Erich’s house rises out of foliage speckled with white blossom. It is accompanied by vineyards, hop gardens, and a vegetable garden—a perfect image of domestic self-sufficiency, as further exemplified by a stork (a symbol of good luck in German folklore) that flies up from the chimney before settling in the garden. The bees swarming there are a metaphorical reflection of Erich’s own industry; he has added a distillery to the farm buildings erected by his father to supplement the dwelling built in his grandfather’s time, emphasizing the progress as well as the continuity of family life.

Switzerland has a region called Immensee, but Theodor Storm uses the name in this novel because of its symbolic significance. The word means “lake of bees” in German.

Lake

Lake. Body of water on the estate. A path along the lakeshore, where the troubled Reinhard walks, leads through a birchwood to a small promontory where there is a bench that Elisabeth’s mother has named the “sunset seat.” While returning along the path one day in the rain, Reinhard thinks he sees Elisabeth among the trees, but she vanishes before he can catch up with her. The...

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Immensee Bibliography (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Alt, Arthur Tilo. Theodor Storm. New York: Twayne, 1973. The most helpful source for the English-speaking student of Storm. Discusses Storm’s life and character and analyzes all his major works, including Immensee. An annotated bibliography.

Bernd, Clifford A. Theodor Storm’s Craft of Fiction. 2d rev. ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966. A reading of two of Storm’s novellas. Outlines a methodology that casts light on Immensee, although it contains no extended discussion of the book. Bibliography covers everything written on Storm until 1965.

Jackson, David A. Theodor Storm: The Life and Works of a Democratic Humanitarian. New York: Berg/St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Emphasizes social and political perspectives in integrating Storm’s life and work. Provides a new context for such works as Immensee.

McHaffie, M. A., and J. M. Ritchie. “Bee’s Lake: Or, The Curse of Silence. A Study of Theodor Storm’s Immensee.” German Life and Letters 16, no. 1 (October, 1962): 36-45. A close reading of Immensee. Compares the novella with Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger (1903).

Mare, Margaret Laura. Theodor Storm and His World. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Aids to Learning Limited, 1970. Overview of Storm’s work. Places his work in the context of his time.