Quitt, the title of a novel written in 1891 by Theodor Fontane (1819-1898), one of the leading German novelists of the later 19th century; the novel is of importance to the Mennonites in that the second half of it has its setting in a Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite Church) home and community in Oklahoma.
Lehnert Menz, a young West Prussian, shoots a game warden and leaves him for dead. Later he hears the warden call, but is morally unable to go to the rescue. When the authorities are about to apprehend him he flees to America and finally comes to the farm of Obadja Hornbostel, a Mennonite elder. Lehnert confesses his crime to Hornbostel and becomes a member of his congregation. Lehnert meets his death from a fall while out looking for the son of the family, who has supposedly come to some harm. While awaiting death he has the conviction that he has atoned for his crime and is now "quits."
Fontane’s charming and sympathetic portrait of Hornbostel is carefully drawn, based probably, as Zieglschmid has shown, on reports given by his friend Paul Lindau, who visited the American Mennonite settlements in 1883. The story, however, has some rather un-Mennonite pietistic and Calvinistic characteristics which invalidate certain aspects of Fontane’s interpretation of the Mennonite faith. (See the excellent discussions by Ernst Correll, "Theodor Fontane," Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 661, and Paul Schowalter, "Literatur," Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 665.)
Bender, Elizabeth H. "The Mennonites in German Literature," especially the chapter "Theodor Fontane’s Novel Quitt, 1891" (M.A. thesis, Minnesota. 1944).
Correll, Ernst. "Theodor Fontane’s Quitt." Mennonite Quarterly Review XVI (1942): 221 f. (reprint from Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 661).
Schowalter, Otto. "Die Mennoniten in der allgemeinen deutschen Literatur: Bibliographie." Beitrage zur Geschichte der Mennoniten Weierhof, 1938.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. "Truth and Fiction and Mennonites in the Second Part of Theodor Fontane’s Novel Quitt: the Indian Territory." Mennonite Quarterly Review XVI (1942): 223-46.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 239. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Bender, Elizabeth Horsch. "Quitt." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/quitt_a_novel_by_theodor_fontane.
APA style: Bender, Elizabeth Horsch. (1959). Quitt. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/quitt_a_novel_by_theodor_fontane.