Conrad Ferdinand Meyer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Signature Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (cropped) .jpg

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (* 11. October 1825 in Zurich ; † 28. November 1898 in Kilchberg near Zurich) was a Swiss poet of realism , of (especially historical) short stories , novels and poetry created. Along with Gottfried Keller and Jeremias Gotthelf, he is one of the most important German-speaking Swiss poets of the 19th century.


Conrad Ferdinand Meyer with his sister Betsy, around 1855

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer was born into a patrician family in Zurich as the son of government councilor Ferdinand Meyer (1799–1840). At the age of 15 he lost his father. He had an extremely difficult relationship with his mentally stressed mother Elisabeth / Betsy Meyer, née Ulrich (born June 10, 1802 in Zurich), who committed suicide on September 27, 1856 at Préfargier (Gem. Marin-Epagnier ). Throughout his life he was friends with Johann Conrad Nüscheler .

His sister was Elisabeth Cleophea (1831-1912), called Betsy.

For a few years of his youth he lived in Lausanne , where he learned French so well that he translated French literature and considered becoming a French writer or pursuing an academic career as a Romance philologist . During this time he became a member of the Swiss Zofinger Association . Before he was twenty he was admitted to a mental hospital for the first time for severe depression .

After his mother's death, an inheritance gave him secure circumstances. He went on a trip to Italy with his sister, who was very close to him, which impressed him very much. His first volume of poetry was published anonymously in 1864. In 1869 he moved with his sister to Küsnacht on Lake Zurich . The war between Germany and France in 1870/71 plunged Meyer, who lived in both cultures, into a deep conflict. After the German victory, he decided on German literature.

He first had literary success in 1872 when, at the age of 46, he published the cycle of poems Hutten's Last Days , which, like all subsequent book versions, was published by the Leipzig publisher Hermann Haessel (1819–1901). In 1876 the novel Jürg Jenatsch appeared (in the first editions in 1876 and 1878 still under the title Georg Jenatsch ), in 1877 the humorous short novella Der Schuß von der Kanzel . The inclusion of Der Heilige by the renowned publisher Julius Rodenberg as a preprint in the Deutsche Rundschau (journal version 1879/80; book version 1880) consolidated Meyer's reputation as an outstanding narrator. In 1882 the collection of poems appeared , which also shows him as an important poet. It was expanded or improved with every edition until his psychological breakdown in 1892.

In the following period historical short stories and novels appeared almost every year; Of particular importance are The Monk's Wedding (1884), The Judge (1885) and The Temptation of Pescara (1887).

His private life also changed in the 1870s: in 1875 he married Luise Ziegler (1837–1915), daughter of Zurich City President Paul Carl Eduard Ziegler . That decisively strengthened his social reputation. In 1877 he moved to Kilchberg near Zurich, where he lived until the end of his life.

Meyer's home in Kilchberg

In 1879 the daughter Camilla was born, who like her grandmother committed suicide in 1936. Meyer's wife was jealous of Meyer's sister Betsy, with whom he had lived for many years and who worked for him as a secretary and literary confidante. The relationship between CF Meyer and his sister was close and loving. Betsy Meyer withdrew largely from her brother's life for many years at the end of 1880 and worked charitable for other mentally ill people; Visits to his brother were rather the exception for Betsy Meyer in the 1880s, presumably so as not to disturb his marriage.

In 1888 Meyer again suffered severe ailments. His last work, Angela Borgia , he was only able to finish with great difficulty. In 1892 he was again admitted to a psychiatric hospital. He fell more and more into a state of twilight and was discharged in 1893 without any significant improvement. He spent his last years, cared for by his wife, in his house in Kilchberg, where he died on November 28, 1898 at the age of 73. He found his final resting place on December 1st in the Kilchberg cemetery. Louis Wethli created a funerary monument in the shape of an obelisk. His wife and daughter found their final resting place next to him. The memorial for his sister Betsy Meyer is in the garden of the CF Meyer house.

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer in costume, around 1883
Karl Stauffer-Bern: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer 1887
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1825–1898) poet, short stories, novels, poetry.  State Archives Basel-Country, Liestal, Switzerland
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer


Special features of Meyer's narrative works are their stylistic brevity and compactness, which even contemporaries noticed, sometimes in an admiring way, but sometimes also from a critical point of view: Meyer's publisher Hermann Haessel, for example, tried to B. often to move him to a more epic style (especially at the wedding of the monk ), but in vain - Meyer stuck to his dense narrative style throughout his life. From today's perspective, one can understand this lack of superfluous paintwork as a quality of these texts.

Meyer's works are also often characterized by a subtle sense of humor. In a kind of framework story, prominent people sometimes appear as secondary characters, such as the Swedish king Gustav Adolf (in Gustav Adolfs Page ), Louis XIV (in The Sorrows of a Boy ) or Dante Alighieri (in The Monk's Wedding ). The poet assumes that the reader is informed about the meaning of these "secondary characters". But sometimes there are surprises in this regard. If there is a framework plot (e.g. in The Saint and The Wedding of the Monk ), the framework and internal plot are always artfully interwoven.





Poetry (selection)

Editions of works (in selection)

Original editions by Verlag Hermann Haessel, Leipzig
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: Poems. 88th edition. Leipzig 1917.
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: Complete works with an introduction by Hans Schmer. Wuerzburg 1947.
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: Complete Works. Historical-critical edition. Edited by Hans Zeller and Alfred Zäch. 15 volumes. Benteli, Bern 1958–1996.
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: Complete works in two volumes. Complete text according to the last edition. With an afterword by Erwin Laaths. Winkler, Munich 1968.
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: The Complete Works - read in full on 5 MP3 CDs by Klauspeter Bungert . Bungert, Trier 2008, ISBN 978-3-00-024887-0 .
  • CF Meyer's correspondence. Historical-critical edition. Edited by Hans Zeller (from Vol. 4 by Wolfgang Lukas and Hans Zeller).
    • Vol. 1: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer - Gottfried Keller. Letters 1871 to 1889. Benteli, Bern 1998.
    • Vol. 2: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer - François and Eliza Wille. Letters 1869 to 1895. Benteli, Bern 1999.
    • Vol. 3: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer - Friedrich von Wyß and Georg von Wyß. Letters 1855 to 1897. Benteli, Bern 2004.
    • Vol. 4.1: Publishing correspondence. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Betsy Meyer - Hermann Haessel with corresponding correspondence and publishing documents. Letters 1855 to April 1874. Wallstein, Göttingen 2014.
    • Vol. 4.2: Publishing correspondence. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Betsy Meyer - Hermann Haessel with corresponding correspondence and publishing documents. Letters July 1874 to 1879. Wallstein, Göttingen 2014.
    • Vol. 4.3: Publishing correspondence. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Betsy Meyer - Hermann Haessel with corresponding correspondence and publishing documents. Letters 1880 to 1882. Wallstein, Göttingen 2015.
    • Vol. 4.4: Publishing correspondence. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Betsy Meyer - Hermann Haessel with corresponding correspondence and publishing documents. Letters 1883 to 1885. Wallstein, Göttingen 2017.

Meyer as a literary figure

Film adaptations


  • Klauspeter Bungert: The rock face as a mirror of a development. The poet CF Meyer as the subject of a psychological literature study. Berlin 1994, ISBN 978-3-00-004447-2
  • Klauspeter Bungert: Not in vogue at the moment - but still up to date. A contribution to the 100th anniversary of the death of the Swiss poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (November 28, 1998) Trier 1998, full text below
  • Tamara S. Evans: Forms of irony in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's novellas. Bern u. a .: Francke 1980. ISBN 3-7720-1476-3
  • Erich Everth : Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. Poetry and personality. Dresden: Sibyllen-Verlag 1924.
  • Karl Fehr : Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. 2nd edition Stuttgart: Metzler 1980. (= Metzler Collection; M 102; Dept. D, History of Literature) ISBN 3-476-12102-X
  • Karl Fehr: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. The rise and fall of his poetic productivity in the field of tension between hereditary factors and the environment. Bern u. a .: Francke 1983. ISBN 3-7720-1551-4
  • Ulrich Henry Gerlach: Conrad-Ferdinand-Meyer-Bibliography. Tübingen: Niemeyer 1994. ISBN 3-484-10699-9
  • Albert Geßler:  Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 52, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1906, pp. 340-370.
  • Thomas Grossenbacher: Studies on the relationship between literature and morality in selected works of Swiss bourgeois realism. Bern u. a .: Haupt 1984. (= language and poetry; NF; 35) ISBN 3-258-03350-1
  • Clarissa Höschel: CF Meyer's first story CLARA in the context of the novellist complete works. Frankfurt / Main: Peter Lang 2010. ISBN 978-3-631-59202-1
  • Walter Huber: Levels of poetic self-portrayal in CF Meyer's “Amulet” and “Jenatsch” . Bern 1979
  • David A. Jackson: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. With testimonials and photo documents. Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt 1991. (= Rowohlt's monographs; 238) ISBN 3-499-50238-0
  • Andrea Jäger: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer for an introduction. Hamburg: Junius 1998. (= Introduction; 179) ISBN 3-88506-979-2
  • Andrea Jäger: The historical stories by Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. On the poetic dissolution of historical meaning in the 19th century. Tübingen u. a .: Francke 1998. ISBN 3-7720-2737-7
  • Friedrich Kittler : The dream and the speech. An analysis of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's communication situation. Francke, Bern 1977.
  • Christof Laumont: Every thought as a visible form. Forms and functions of allegory in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's short story. Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag 1997. ISBN 3-89244-248-7
  • John Osborne: Of The Use Of History. Studies on the work of Conrad Ferdinand Meyers . Paderborn: Igel-Verl. Knowledge 1994. (= Series literature and media studies; 32; Kassel studies on German-language literary history; 5) ISBN 3-927104-90-6
  • Monika Ritzer (Ed.): Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. The reality of time and the truth of art . Tübingen u. a .: Francke 2001. ISBN 3-7720-2768-7
  • Peter Sprengel: From Luther to Bismarck. Kulturkampf and national identity with Theodor Fontane, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and Gerhart Hauptmann. Bielefeld: Aisthesis-Verl. 1999. ISBN 3-89528-236-7
  • Otto Schultheß [Ed.]: Letters from Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Betsy Meyer and J. Hardmeyer-Jenny. Bern 1927
  • Hans Wysling (Ed.): Conrad Ferdinand Meyer 1825–1898. Commemorative ribbon for the 100th year of death . Zurich: Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung 1998. ISBN 3-85823-724-8
  • Rosmarie Zeller: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer in context: Contributions to the Kilchberger Kolloquium Heidelberg: Winter Verlag 2000. ISBN 978-3-82531-019-6
  • Hans Zeller:  Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 17, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-428-00198-2 , pp. 299-303 ( digitized version ).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johann Conrad Nüscheler
  2. ^ The friendship between Meyer and Nüscheler
  3. Life of Betsy Meyer (1831–1912)
  4. Hans Zeller, Wolfgang Lukas (eds.): Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Friedrich von Wyss and Georg von Wyss (= CF Meyer's correspondence. Historical-critical edition. Volume 3). Benteli Verlag , Bern 2004, ISBN 3-7165-1187-0 , p. 401.
  5. 1898 newspaper article about Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
  6. ^ Rosa Rugosa Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
  7. This refers to the Cappella Sistina, the Sistine Chapel decorated with famous frescoes by Michelangelo .
  8. [1]
  9. [2]

Web links

Wikisource: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Conrad Ferdinand Meyer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files