Theodor Storm (1817 - 1888) was a North German writer, widely recognized as one of the most important authors of 19th-century German Literary realism. His semi-autobiographical novella, Immensee, is the work that made him famous and remains to this day one of his most widely read. Its rich and multi-layered symbolism along with its deep sentimentality make it an intriguing and touching tale.
On the surface, Immensee is a simple love story, of an old man, Reinhardt Werner, remembering Elisabeth, the lost sweetheart of his youth, who married his best friend, Erich. Reinhardt had neglected their relationship when he had gone away to university, and after two years when he failed to write to Elisabeth, she gave up waiting and accepted a marriage proposal from Erich, a wealthy young farmer with a fine house on the shores of the Immensee. There are hints that Reinhadt may have had other affairs as a student, but much in the story is implicit rather than explicit, leaving the listener to speculate and ponder on what was or might have been.
On visiting Erich and Elisabeth years later, Reinhardt discovers that their doomed love still beats in both breasts, but now it is a passion which can only cause them pain and suffering. One night he sees a white water lily out on the lake and tries to swim out to it. But when he gets there, the roots threaten to entangle him and he extricates himself with difficulty and swims away. But how can he extricate himself from his love for Elisabeth?