Baron Eduard and his second wife Charlotte enjoy a quiet, humdrum existence in their opulent castle, but when he invites his friend the Captain and she invites her niece Ottilie to stay with them, their lives are turned inside out as both hosts begin to feel attracted to their guests. Using one of the chemical theories of the time as a metaphor throughout the novel, Goethe juxtaposes social interactions with scientific principles and illustrates the typically Romantic concern of the individual coming to terms with society.
Described by Thomas Mann as “the boldest and deepest novel of adultery produced by the moral culture of the West”, Goethe’s Elective Affinities is an early model for the modern novel.
"Contemporary readers will recognise the emotional pressures and the problems that Goethe explores through his characters and the Romantic landscape." - The Guardian
Read an excerpt from Elective Affinities
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