Undine by Friedrich De La Motte Fouqué

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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Undine is an early German romance fairy-tale novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué – and an extremely popular book since its publication in 1811, more than 200 years ago. Just 30 short years after its first publication, it was said that you could find a copy of Undine in any library. George MacDonald, author of At the Back of the North Wind and Phantastes called Undine the most beautiful of all fairy stories.

In the story, the water-spirit Undine marries a knight, Huldebrand, so that she might gain a soul. As one might expect, when one steps into the realm of faerie, they step into the perilous realm. Huldebrand finds himself in over his head and begins to have second thoughts about the marriage, which lead to his end.

Undine has parallels to that legendary tale and Disney movie, The Little Mermaid. Both have men that fall for water-spirits but have forces set against their union. They both have their roots in the French folk-tale of Melusine. In that tale, a mermaid/water-spirit marries a knight on the condition that he won’t ever see her on Saturdays – the day she takes on her mermaid shape.

If you want hard copies of the book, you can grab the paperback here. If you want to learn more about Undines as a topic, this is a good place to start. If you want a film, you can watch 2010s Ondine with Colin Farrell.