Aslauga’s Knight by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1777-1843) was a German writer. His works mostly belong to the genres of romance and fantasy. Undine (1811) remains Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s most enduring work.

Fouqué’s writing influenced many. Louisa May Alcott and Robert Louis Stevenson were among those influenced by him. In her novels Little Women and Jo’s Boys, Undine is mentioned. In Jo’s Boys, there’s even an entire chapter called Aslauga’s Knight.

Aslauga’s Knight is an archetypal Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué story. Froda, a model knight, reads the century old legend of Lady Aslauga and falls in love with her. Soon he receives a visit from a spectre that is revealed to be the legendary Aslauga and he is bound forever with her.

The story has all the elements of a fairy tale. The brave knights, the fair princess, the wicked witch but at the same time this reads more like a horror story. Froda is in love with a dead woman, Aslauga. The vision of a ghostly Aslauga appears at every opportune moment. Sometimes it is loving but most of the time it seems a bit malevolent. The spectre both aids and hinders Froda. As long as is toiling for honour it helps him but as soon as he has any thoughts of a personal nature it thwarts his plans.

The ending is also, in keeping with the mood of the rest of the story, slightly dark.

The story is very short. It took me less than an hour to finish it. But somehow it didn’t seem short and I don’t mean that in a negative way. The story, despite its shortness, had so many different elements packed into it. Proclamations of love and friendship, songs, warfare, dark magic, ghosts and witches, all the ingredients of romance and fantasy, are abundant among its 50 or so pages.

The characters of young Edwald and the fair Hildegardis are unimpressive. Edwald comes across as a bit of a wimp.

The friendship between Froda and Edwald irritated me at times. It is overly romanticised. The flowery exchanges between them got on my nerves.

I enjoyed reading Aslauga’s Knight and would  recommend it to classic lit lovers, even though it is not really like what I had expected it to be. It is darker than I had anticipated. At times the over-righteousness of the characters annoyed me. But overall Aslauga’s Knight is a good, short read.

(This review is offered as a part of Friday’s Forgotten Books meme. Check out what other reviews are up at pattinase.)

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5 comments

  1. Very interesting! As I was reading Jo’s Boys I came upon the chapter “Aslauga’s Knight.” In order to get more information for a better understanding of the chapter, I looked up this book. Reading this review caught my attention and I’m now interested in reading Aslauga’s Knight soon.(:

  2. I’ve always wanted to read UNDINE. I keep running across antique copies of the book but they’re so shoddy I’ve never purchased one. And now I’ll want to find this story as well. Sounds like a fascinating blend of the eerie and the romantic.

    Dodo Press has a habit of publishing short stories and novellas as “books.” I suspect that this story can be found in an anthology of Fouque’s work maybe even with Undine. I’ll have to be more diligent in my searches.

    1. “Sounds like a fascinating blend of the eerie and the romantic.”

      That describes it pretty well. I want to read Undine too. Don’t know if I’ll manage it this year though. I already have so many books lined up. Sigh!

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