Gottfried August Bürger
Gottfried August Bürger (born December 31, 1747 in Molmerswende ; † June 8, 1794 in Göttingen ) was a German poet during the Enlightenment , who is attributed to the Sturm und Drang . His ballads and the adventures of Freiherr von Münchhausen are particularly well known .
Bürger was the son of a country pastor. His father was not particularly interested in his education, so it was thanks to the initiative of his maternal grandfather that the path to higher education was opened to him. From 1760 he went to the city school of Aschersleben , where he was expelled from the school because of a fight. However, Lore Kaim and Siegfried Streller cite a derisive epigram written by Bürger as the reason for the expulsion from school, against which Bürger's grandfather vigorously protested. The pedagogy in Halle accepted him as a pupil; there he made friends with the poet von Goeckingk . In 1764, under pressure from his grandfather, he began studying theology at the university there. It was not until 1768 that he was allowed to go to the University of Göttingen to study law there.
One of his friends in Göttingen was Heinrich Christian Boie , who in 1772 gave him the post of bailiff in Altenleichen with his seat in Gelliehausen . He worked in the office in Gelliehausen from 1772 to 1784 and lived in Gelliehausen from 1772 and in Wöllmarshausen from 1774 to 1784. Boie also brought him into contact with the Göttingen Hainbund , which Johann Heinrich Voss , Ludwig Christoph Heinrich Hölty and Count Stolberg founded in the same year. A particularly close study friendship connected him with the enlightenment and publicist Johann Erich Biester (1749-1816) , who worked in Berlin after 1777 . With him he carried out Shakespeare studies in Göttingen. Bürger dedicated his translation of Macbeth to Biester .
In 1775, Bürger was accepted into the Masonic lodge Zum golden Zirkel in Göttingen; from 1777 until his death he was speaker of the lodge.
When he took office, the conflict with the grandfather was settled. In the autumn of 1774 Bürger married Dorothea, the second daughter of the judicial officer Johann Carl Leonhart zu Niedeck, and one year later they moved to Wöllmarshausen , a village in his court district. His marriage was not happy: he fell in love with Auguste, his wife's younger sister, whom he sang in poetry as Molly . After the death of Bürger's father-in-law in 1777, she moved into the house of the married couple and citizens, who lived a ménage-à-trois , which he had to defend against the opposition of the bourgeoisie and from which in 1782 a son born by "Molly" arose.
In addition, there were various domestic worries, caused by low income, frequent illnesses and a lease at Appenrode that was taken over in 1780. On top of that, accused by his superiors of negligent management, Bürger was acquitted in the ordered investigation; but he decided to resign voluntarily.
After the death of his wife in 1784, he moved to Göttingen in order to build a new life for himself through private lectures on aesthetics, German style and similar topics. In June 1785 he finally married his beloved Molly. Her early death on January 9, 1786 plunged him again into a deep crisis and for a long time robbed him of his desire to work as a poet. The love affair even became the subject of a drama in the 19th century : Salomon Hermann Mosenthals Bürger and Molly, or a German poet's life: a play in 5 acts (Freiberg 1851).
The university awarded him a doctorate in philosophy on its 50th anniversary and appointed him extraordinary professor in November 1789. This honorary title was not associated with any salary.
The desire for an orderly household prompted Bürger to a third marriage. An unknown author who marked Y. had made him a joking marriage proposal in a long poem that had appeared in a Stuttgart magazine. Bürger learned from acquaintances that the stranger was Elise Hahn from Stuttgart. Elise wanted to make it clear that she hadn't really meant the poem; At this point, Bürger was already on his way to Stuttgart to propose marriage to Elise.
On September 29, 1790, Bürger in Göttingen married the writer Elise Hahn , who was 21 years his junior , and on August 1, 1791 a son, Agathon, was born, a sickly and apparently mentally handicapped child. It soon became clear that the marriage would fail. The cause, as Bürger describes it in a detailed letter to his mother-in-law in Stuttgart, was Elise's infidelity and profligacy. She always partied well into the night, which meant that her milk had run dry early on, and that caused the son to be disabled. He found compromising letters from Count Friedrich August von Hardenberg (1770–1837) and, according to his account, observed his wife through a small hole drilled through the door during sexual intercourse with a student. On March 31, 1792, Elise was divorced by the University Court guilty, as a result of which she also lost her dowry of 1177 thalers.
Schiller's fierce criticism , which appeared anonymously in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on January 15 and 17, 1791 , further weakened his self-confidence. In order to earn money, he provided translations for foreign booksellers. In addition, there was a disease of consumption .
Only when the citizen lost his vote as a result, could no longer hold lectures and thus no longer received any college money, the university board of trustees granted him a one-time grant of 50 thalers instead of the requested salary.
Bürger died on June 8, 1794 and was buried in the Bartholomäusfriedhof . He left two daughters and two sons.
On January 22, 1774 Bürger married the bailiff's daughter Dorothea (Dorette) Marianne Leonart. Shortly afterwards he fell in love with Dorothea's sister Augusta ( Molly ) Maria Wilhelmine Eva Leonart. In 1778 Anna Leonart, the sister of Dorothea and Augusta, married the bailiff Johann Jacob Heinrich Elderhorst, who shortly before had become district bailiff in Bissendorf , now part of the community of Wedemark , Hanover region . Meanwhile, the love between Bürger and Molly had offended. Molly moved to her sister Anna in Bissendorf for about 15 months in 1779, and from 1783 she stayed with her for another year. Bürger visited her there both times. On July 30, 1784 Dorothea died of the consequences of the birth of a daughter, and after the prescribed mourning period had expired, Bürger married Dorothea's sister Molly on June 17, 1785 in the St. Michaelis Church in Bissendorf. In 1786 Molly also died as a result of childbirth. Her daughter Anne Auguste Henriette Ernestine was brought to Bissendorf, where she was educated and confirmed. Bürger rarely came to visit. Altogether, citizen's correspondence shows his presence in Bissendorf five times. The stays often lasted several weeks.
Bürger had six children from three women: Antoinette (1775–1777) from Dorette, Marianne Friederike (1778–1862) from Dorette, Emil (1782–1841) from Molly, Auguste Wilhelmine (1784) from Dorette, Auguste (1785–1847) by Molly, Agathon (1791–1813) by Elise Hahn.
He was also the uncle of the writer Adolf Müllner (1774–1829).
The organ in which Bürger published his numerous poems was the Göttingen Musenalmanach , founded in 1770 by Bürger's friend Heinrich Christian Boie and Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter . In 1778 Bürger took over the editing of the magazine and published the first collection of his poems. A second, expanded edition in two volumes appeared eleven years later.
In 1782 Bürger proposed a spelling compromise with which he wanted to remedy "the horror of our general writing devastation". However, his suggestions went unheard and were only published with his estate in 1824.
Today Bürger is mainly remembered for his campaigns and adventures of Baron von Münchhausen (1786/1789). These belong in the tradition of lying stories , which goes far back into classical antiquity and the narrative tradition of Judaism. The lies stories of the historical Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr von Münchhausen were written down by an anonymous author and published in 1781. In the form of an English translation made by Rudolf Erich Raspe , they were sent to Bürger, who translated them back into German and edited them freely. He took over Raspe's extensions and its division into land and sea adventures. Although numerous adaptations of the material followed, Bürger's version, which appeared three years later in an expanded edition, remains the best-known to this day. They have been translated into numerous languages and illustrated several times. a. by Wilhelm Simmler , Daniel Chodowiecki and Johann Christian Ruhl .
Bürger's numerous poems include ballads with a tragic-dramatic content, but also political, satirical, comic and didactic poems and love poems in the tradition of sensitivity and anacreontics . His most famous poetry remained for a long time the ballad Lenore , which was greeted with general enthusiasm. After it had been reworked several times in accordance with the criticism of the Göttinger Dichterbund, it appeared in the Musenalmanach for 1774.
It was particularly important to him that his poetry should remain “popular”: “All poetry should be popular, because that is the seal of its perfection.” In doing so, Bürger turned against the artificial and learned poetry of the Poetae docti . Poetry should be received collectively, that is, read aloud in a circle of listeners. In this way, it should also contribute to the formation of common sense. Your characteristics should be:
“Clarity, definition, rounding, order and harmony of thoughts and images; according to truth, nature and simplicity of sensations; according to the most peculiar and most apt, not precisely from the dead written language, but from the middle of the living oral language; for the most punctual grammatical correctness, for a light, informal, melodious rhyme and verse. "
To this day, the citizens' reception is influenced by German classical music. It was not until 1998 that Peter von Matt characterized Bürger's meaning differently:
“Bürger made the German poem an event for all five senses. Like the German theater of Lenz's social insight, the German verse lives on to this day from Bürger's melodic sensualism - whether the poets themselves know it or not. His ballads blew the literary rococo into the museum with a single push. [...] And Schiller made his debut in his anthology for the year 1782 as an undisguised citizen epigone. He was later so embarrassed that he publicly executed his predecessor. […] The thesis that only a person of moral integrity can be a good poet can be traced back to this text - a crooked assertion that haunts literary Germany time and again. We also owe him the 'historic breakthrough to a new lyrical body happiness'. "
The Real Encyclopedia by Brockhaus , published in 1843, characterizes Bürger even before the beginning of the Schiller sacralization:
"B. was characterized by a genuinely German honesty, straightforwardness and openness and, as some of his confessions and self-reports testify, by an almost too far-taken modesty and self-knowledge; His kindness of heart and benevolence were unlimited, but also led him to an indestructible trust in others, which essentially harmed him and, combined with a certain penchant for sensuality and with a poetic but reckless carelessness and ignorance of living conditions, all those domestic rifts in him which gradually rubbed him up. These properties are also expressed in his poems, which, however, can by no means be seen to have any clouding and bitterness of the mind which one should suspect under such circumstances; As a poet he stood above his living conditions, and to the end his poems retained a certain touch of health and freshness. The position which he assumed as a poet is to be called an enviable one, since he was and has remained a popular poet in the purest sense of the word like no other of his time. The very possession of poetic abilities, which Schiller reproaches him for in his one-sided reviews, as well as the lack of ideal conception, which is also criticized, enabled B. to become a popular poet without becoming an enemy of the educated; Even the rudeness in some of B.'s poems, which may be reprehensible from a higher aesthetic point of view, was more conducive to B. in his applications for public favor than a hindrance. Schlegel found a more correct yardstick for his judgment than Schiller in his criticism, which is given in his characteristics and criticisms , but Schlegel also does not keep himself free from crooked views, and if he had a right to it from a point of view only acquired later to point out that B. in his reproductions engl. Ballads would have dragged everything down into coarser and coarser and stretched the material uselessly in breadth, it should be noted that in B.'s time the public preferred the more suggestive simplicity of the engl, or schot. Ballad still had no understanding, and that the poet, precisely through his broader, all-motivating and purposeful execution, found the right path to prepare the public as well as the critics for a later understanding of popular poetry. The general applause with which B.'s ballads, like the Lenore , his much admired, indeed in a certain sense great masterpiece Lenardo and Blandine , the pastor's daughter von Taubenheim , the wild hunter and so many others, partly copied, partly original fictional ballads were excluded, proves that B. had set the right levers in order to naturalize ballad poetry, for which he first found the right treatment among the art poets in Germany and which is at the same time his invention, in Germany. On the other hand, B. has shown in some minor romance-like pieces that he had quite well understood the spirit of genuine romance. In the song proper, where he approaches Volkstone and is not content with mere rhetoric and rhythmic brilliance , as in his Song of Songs or Venus' night celebration , B. is unique and perfect in his way. His love poems, although in them he does not fathom love in its tender depths and spiritual elements, are often captivating through the full sound of their words, through their sensual and passionate ardor, or address as playful flirtation in a friendly way. Also to be noted is the strong sense of man, the hatred of everything bad, mean, and despotic in some of his poems, as he was also one of the first Germans who heartily attacked exclusive erudition, scholarly pride and scientific pedantry. B. is to be regarded as one of the language creators of the previous century; not only that he was almost anxious about the correctness and soundness of the verse; For example, in his account of the changes in the night celebration of Venus , he wrote 40 tightly printed pages on the first four lines, he has also brought some foreign forms, such as the sonnet, to honor in Germany; He was also one of the first to deliver tolerable and flowing hexameters in his translation samples from the Iliad and in his translation of the fourth book of Aeneide ; He also attempted a translation of the Iliad into five-footed rhymeless iambs and a prosaic translation of Shakespeare's Macbeth . An efficient polemical zeal , especially directed against the quisquile scholarship of the time , as he called it, characterizes several of his prose essays, although prose was not his real field. "
Aftermath and reception
It is not easy to trace the real significance of the citizen: the discrepancy between his effect on the public in the 18th and 19th centuries and its reverberation in literary histories is great. The reason for this is the classic style, which was used until almost the end of the 20th century. This referred to Schiller's Bürger-Review from 1791. This had attacked Bürger's person and condemned it according to his own idealistic conception of art, which Bürger neither knew nor would have accepted. It is noteworthy that this review did not find a single public defender until Schiller's death, but it met with repeated opposition. Consent was only given verbally or in letters, e. B. by Goethe and Christoph Martin Wieland. Jens Baggesen also agreed and even wanted to “worship this giant spirit of our blessed Decennium, this glorious morning sun of history, this genuinely philosophical poet, this inexpressibly enchanting Schiller.” The most succinct reply can already be found in Minerva of 1793: “This review is that The liveliest example of contradictions and inconsistent demands, where the high-tension theory lapses when it demands godly power from human works, ideal from individual truth. "Gerhard Plumpe quotes Schiller's review in 1998:" No talent, however great, can give an individual work of art what the creator the same is broken, and defects that arise from this source cannot even be removed by the file. ”and then states:“ This philosophical presuppositions of Schiller's criticism, which is both typical of the time and exaggerated, is profoundly removed from the reality of literature and the interests of its readers been. ”Show effect The review has mainly been since Georg Gottfried Gervinus, who can be seen as the architect of the classical period. He claimed that Schiller was not the true folk poet, but rather Bürger. However, this assertion is only correct if one can do without a broad audience as such. In fact, Bürger had a popularity beyond the mid-19th century that neither Schiller nor Goethe ever achieved. The latter confirmed this himself in 1827: “What lives on my own songs? One and the other is sung once by a pretty girl at the piano, but in the actual people everything is quiet. "Regarding Schiller's poems, Julian Schmidt stated in 1855:" If they therefore no longer live on in the people, with the exception of a few lighter products, of a purely dogmatic form, that is in order, since the people only find their nourishment in poems of unconditional truth. Basically they had never penetrated the people, they were only calculated for the finest education. ”Further comments on Bürger's outstanding popularity can be found in Hermann Marggraff, Theodor Muegge or Franz Hermann Kahle. August Friedrich Christian Vilmar calls Bürger one of the most popular poets that our entire literary history can show, but also links the poet's work and life as being as ignoble as it is ugly.
The question remains unanswered: How could citizens reach their audiences, not only the educated but also the less educated class, who could hardly read fluently and even less acquire a book? A citizen who translated from five languages, eagerly absorbed suggestions from other cultures and was by no means a nationalist, had a maxim: “We are Germans! Germans who are not supposed to make Greek, not Roman, not everyday poems in German language, but rather in German language, German poems, digestible and nourishing for the whole people. ”That distinguishes him from the classics, which found their role models in antiquity, and made his own Poems understandable for everyone. The language he used was based on the language of the people and that of the Lutheran Bible. His poems about the song pamphlets and the settings of his songs found their way to the audience. He reached the educated with new editions of his poems, often pirated prints. Hoffmann von Fallersleben generally describes the path from the poems from the muses' almanac to the song pamphlets accessible to everyone, Die Annalen der Hamburgischen Litteratur describe in detail how at a typical fair, in addition to horror stories, Bürger's poems were read and sold by bailiff singers. In addition to Lenore, the pastor's daughter von Taubenhain was particularly popular . Sometimes the ballads were brought closer to the audience through a preceding or following story.
Walter Scott valued Bürger's ballads very much. The retouching translations of Lenore ( William and Helen ) and Der Wilde Jäger ( The Chase ) were Scott's first published works (1796). Between 1796 and 1892 there were a record thirty different English translations of the Lenore .
In 1799, at the instigation of Dr. Althof, citizen's doctor, created a memorial for citizens by the two Hessian court sculptors Ludwig Daniel Heyd and Johann Wolfgang Heyd, brothers from Kassel, to which Friedrich Schiller also donated 1 thaler 12 groschen. It was demolished in 1956 in the course of modernization measures and destroyed out of disregard.
His fame was much greater in the decades after 1800 than it is today. Even if Lenore, his most famous ballad, is not missing in any anthology, his contribution to popular culture that still exists today is the valid shaping of the figure of the baron of lies Münchhausen .
With his Lenore , Bürger posed a theme to visual artists . Of the 144 painters identified so far who were inspired by Bürger's work, 123 are known by name. 80 artists tried their hand at the Lenore . The sculptor Rudolf Pohle created a marble statue of Lenore in 1888 : Desperation . The fate of this work is exemplary of the attitude of official Germany to its most popular poet. Pohle donated the statue to the city of Charlottenburg for installation on the Schlossstrasse promenade. However, it was removed from there in 1920: it disturbs the view of the castle.
In painting, the most important works were not created until 50 or more years after the appearance of Lenore . Two themes dominated: the death ride and the arrival of the army. The death ride was ideal for dramatic work, but said little about understanding Bürger's work. The arrival of the army or the desperation of the Lenore shows how the understanding of art had developed. In the sense of the classic, the highest thing was beauty, as Schiller had already called for in his citizen review. However, the truth often suffered as a result. Indeed, Lenore's citizen is deeply desperate (When the army was over, / she tore her raven hair, / and threw herself to the ground, / with angry gesture.). Only Charles Rochusen comes close to 1870. The pictures by Carl Friedrich Lessing, Carl Oesterley or Ary Scheffer, on the other hand, may be viewed as beautiful - they are not true. Lessing's picture could have been a congenial creation to Bürger's poem. Friedrich von Uechtritz reported in 1839 that Lessing's design actually followed the model - but then changed after criticism by Johann Gottfried Schadow, who had returned from Italy, and thus turned the real work into a beautiful one. Lessing's design was lost in Görlitz during World War II.
Bürger's poems had a significant influence on music. More than 180 composers set his work to music. Bürger's songs caused enthusiasm “after the song had degenerated for 200 years and remained alien to the people”, as Karl Ernst Schneider stated in 1865 and also justified: “None of the poets of that time is so truly poetic, none so musically useful and therefore also in the Song works of that time as strongly represented as he; the most popular songs of those days, some of which are still cherished by the people and the youth - are regularly by citizens. ”Of the composers, only Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, Carl Christian Agthe, Christian Gottlob Neefe and Hans Pfitzner are mentioned. Some settings can be found in the ONLINE library of the Bürger-Archiv in 1972 and 2008. Almost a bit strange: Beethoven used in his IX. Symphony as the theme of the Ode to Joy (by Bürgers critic Schiller) a melody that he had devised years before to Bürger's love .
The composers were confronted with completely new tasks by the Lenore . Bürger himself composed this ballad “for composition”, although, as was customary at the time, he imagined it to be strophic. Friedrich Wilhelm Weis, the composer of the Göttinger Hain, was the first composer. Since the audience wanted to sing the song, there were several more such works. However, musicians quickly realized that it was artistically very questionable to sing all 32 stanzas to one melody. This created a new musical genre: the composed song. Johann André was the first to solve this problem. His Lenore was so popular that it was sung as a street hit in Berlin, as Carl Friedrich Zelter wrote sullenly to Goethe. Rudolf Zumsteeg was particularly successful in this genre. Nevertheless, a composition as a song remained questionable - Lenore's declamation was enough. Therefore other musical genres were developed: oratorio, symphonic poetry, opera, declamation with piano accompaniment, etc. a. Beethoven chose the form of a piano sonata: Op. 101 in A major. A total of at least 39 composers set the Lenore to music.
Bürger's importance for the German language can hardly be overestimated. In 1859, Heinrich Kurz pointed out that only Goethe could reach him in terms of euphoria. He himself had dealt extensively with the German language in his lecture and demanded an independent academic subject that was on an equal footing with the other subjects: language studies as a study of wisdom itself . Julius Sahr presented a historical classification in 1894. It was not until 1912 that Charles Reining analyzed Bürger's importance as a language creator. The still incomplete list of new words contains 1018 words, such as harem guard, cross-country, saddle-proof, innocent thief, common property, peace alliance, crowd or deeply saddened.
It is also largely thanks to Bürger that the philosophy of Immanuel Kant increasingly found its way into teaching at German universities. The teachings of Kant were frowned upon for a long time. Bürger's Kant lectures at the University of Göttingen, which enjoyed great popularity among students, must therefore be rated very highly.
Citizen as a literary figure
Bürger was incorporated into some literary works in the 19th century. Otto Müller processed it in his novel Bürger, a German poet's life . In 1850 Salomon Hermann Mosenthal dedicated a drama to Bürger with the title Bürger und Molly. A German poet's life . 1939 played citizen The likes of Moritz Jahn a central role.
Münchhausen as a film
An almost timeless adaptation of the Münchhausen material experienced its cinematic adaptation in Münchhausen in 1943 : The (not mentioned) screenwriter Erich Kästner and a number of other accompanying circumstances ensured the film - and thus the citizens (as a poet) himself - a lasting impact that continues to this day .
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- Poems , with copper engravings by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki , Göttingen 1778 ( digitized and full text in the German Text Archive ); 2nd edition 1789
- Wonderful journeys by water and on land, campaigns and funny adventures of the Baron von Münchhausen : how he himself telling the same about the bottle in the circle of his friends , 1786 ( digitized and full text in the German text archive ) (extended edition 1789)
- Baron von Münchhausen's only true experiences on water and on land, on horseback and on foot, in war and peace, in the air and in several countries / This year completely rewritten by himself. And provided with very strange drawings taken from nature by the painter August von Wille . Düsseldorf 1856 Digital copy of the copy from the University and State Library of Düsseldorf
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- Georg Gottfried Gervinus. Klopstock's school. (The Göttingen). In: History of German Poetry. Fifth volume. 1853, p. 33
- Julian Schmidt. History of German Literature in the Nineteenth Century. First volume. London / Leipzig / Paris 1855, p. 50
- Herman Marggraff. Goethe's ´Faust´ in France. In: Blätter für literary entertainment, January 6, 1859, p. 42
- Theodor Muegge. Nordic picture book, Frankfurt a. M. 1857, p. 83
- Franz Hermann Kahle. Claudius and Lever. Berlin 1864, p. 64
- August Friedrich Christian Vilmar. Gottfried August Bürger. In: History of German National Literature. 1848, p. 288
- August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. Our popular songs. Second edition. Leipzig. 1859, S. V
- Anonymous. Annals of the Hamburg literature. In: Hamburg and Altona. Hamburg. 1805, p. 166
- Song pamphlet to Citizen's Lenore.
- Song pamphlet for Bürger's pastor's daughter from Taubenhain.
- Evelyn Jolles-Neugebauer. A bestseller on the English literary market: Citizen's (revenant) ballad Lenore (1774). In: Bridging the cultural divide: our commen ballad heritage. 2000, p. 196
- Lenore by Charles Rochusen
- Lenore by Carl Friedrich Lessing
- Lenore by Carl Oesterley
- Lenore by Ary Scheffer
- Friedrich von Uechtritz. The painter Lessing. In: Glimpses into Düsseldorf's art and artist life. First volume. 1839. p. 346 (PDF; 1.7 MB)
- Karl Ernst Schneider: The musical song. 1863, p. 15
- GA Citizen Archive
- August Wilhelm Ambros: JR Zumsteeg, the ballad composer. In: Allgemeine Zeitung, Augsburg, October 14, 1872 (PDF; 649 kB)
- Lyric poetry. Gottfried August Bürger (PDF; 1.2 MB)
- About instructions for the German language and writing style at universities (PDF; 7.8 MB)
- Gottfried August Bürger as a teacher of the German language. (PDF; 857 kB)
- GA Citizens as Enrichers of the German Language (PDF; 2.4 MB)
- Bürger: Werke in one volume, Volksverlag Weimar 1956, introduction by Lore Kaim and Siegfried Streller p. 30 ff.
|SURNAME||Citizen, Gottfried August|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German poet|
|DATE OF BIRTH||December 31, 1747|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Molmerswende in the Harz Mountains|
|DATE OF DEATH||June 8, 1794|
|Place of death||Goettingen|