Karl Gutzkow

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Karl Gutzkow, lithograph by Johann Georg Weinhold , 1844
Karl Gutzkow

Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow (born March 17, 1811 in Berlin , † December 16, 1878 in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen ) was a German writer , playwright and journalist , one of the leaders of the Young German movement and an important representative of early realism in Germany.



Karl Gutzkow grew up in poor conditions in Berlin. His father Karl August, a trained bricklayer, worked for Prince Wilhelm of Prussia as a stable master . From 1821 to 1829 he attended the Friedrichwerder grammar school . In the summer semester of 1829 Gutzkow enrolled at the University of Berlin to study theology, philology and philosophy. He heard lectures from, among others, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel , Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher , August Boeckh , Karl Lachmann and Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen . As a student, was Gutzkow member of a banned Burschenschaft union Kränzchens , the Societas bibatoria that already existed on the Friedrichswerder high school and broke up just before a police recruitment in the summer of 1831 itself. In 1830 Gutzkow received a prize from the Berlin University for a work ( De diis fatalibus ), which was ceremoniously presented to him in the auditorium of the University of Hegel on August 3rd. The French July Revolution directed his interest to the political and social questions and demands of his time. And while still a student, Gutzkow began publishing his own magazine, Forum der Journal-Literatur , in 1831 , which, however, had to be discontinued in September due to the low number of subscribers. In November 1831 Gutzkow left Berlin and traveled to Stuttgart to see his idol, the literary critic Wolfgang Menzel , on whose literary journal he worked until 1834. Since then he has also written regularly for Cottas Morgenblatt for educated classes and numerous other journals and newspapers. In 1832 he received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Jena "in absentia". In the summer of 1832 his letters from a fool to a fool appeared anonymously at Julius Campe in Hamburg. In October of the same year the book was banned in Prussia. Gutzkow moved to Heidelberg University for the winter semester of 1832/33 to study law. In the summer semester of 1833 he moved to Munich to continue his legal studies. His novel Maha Guru was published at the end of 1833 . Story of a God published by Cotta . It is a satire played in Tibet on the religious and social conditions in Germany, especially in Prussia. In the summer of 1833 Gutzkow had made friends with Heinrich Laube , with whom he went on a trip to Austria and Northern Italy. After this trip - and after the relationship with the publishers Julius Campe and Georg von Cotta had grown closer - Gutzkow decided to become a professional writer.


In 1835 Gutzkow was in Frankfurt am Main, where he wrote the literature on Eduard Duller's Phoenix. Spring newspaper published for Germany ; this supplement only contained articles written by Gutzkow. The correspondence with Georg Büchner dates from the same time . As a result, Gutzkow made sure that Büchner's drama Danton's Death in the Phoenix could appear. Gutzkow thus became the young Büchner's first sponsor.

In the summer of 1835 Gutzkow and Ludolf Wienbarg sent out subscription invitations to a large-scale literary weekly. This German Review was to appear in the same year at the Zacharias Loewenthal bookstore with an initial print run of four thousand copies. Succeeded Gutzkow and Wienbarg next Ludwig Borne and Heinrich Heine and Georg Büchner , which his Lenz wanted to appear there to win for the project.

In August 1835 Gutzkows novel Wally, the doubter, appeared in the publishing house his friend Zacharias Löwenthal had just founded in Mannheim. In September the novel was banned in Prussia and soon after in all other states of the German Confederation . The ban was due to a campaign against the authors of Junge Deutschland , which was especially promoted by Wolfgang Menzel, Gutzkow's former mentor, who accused the book of "Immorality". In November 1835, all of Gutzkow's, Wienbarg, Laubes and Mundt's writings, as well as all of the books published by Zacharias Löwenthal in Prussia, were banned. On December 10, the German Bundestag passed a resolution to prevent the distribution of Gutzkows, Heine, Laubes, Mundt and Wienbarg's writings. Not only should the authors be silenced, their names should disappear from the public eye altogether. As a result, the first issue of Deutsche Revue , which was already in print, could no longer appear.

On January 13, 1836, Gutzkow was sentenced to one month in prison by the Mannheim court for " contemptuousness " after he had been in custody for six weeks, which was not credited to him. Löwenthal, who was also charged, was acquitted. In the summer of that year he married Amalie Klönne. The marriage produced three sons. At the end of 1837 he met Bettina von Arnim in Berlin and attended a number of literary salons . From 1838 he published the Telegraph for Germany in Hamburg , on which Friedrich Engels , Friedrich Hebbel and Georg Herwegh, among others , collaborated. He appointed Georg Schirges as the successor to the editor of the "Telegraph" . In Hamburg he frequented the Salon of Rosa Maria Assing and directed readings of dramas from the classical repertoire with assigned roles. He was on friendly terms with the daughters of the house, Ottilie and Ludmilla Assing . In 1839 Gutzkow's first play Richard Savage was premiered in Frankfurt.


In 1842 Gutzkow first traveled to Paris, where he met George Sand, among others . At the end of the year he moved to Frankfurt. The censorship of his works ended in mid-1843, after which he was able to work legally and under his name again. In 1845 his impressions of Vienna appeared , the result of a trip to Vienna. The book led to a ban on his works for Austria. At the end of 1846 he became a dramaturge at the court theater in Dresden . Gutzkow moved with his family from Frankfurt to Dresden, where he lived and worked for almost fifteen years. However, as a result of the revolution and counter-revolution in the summer of 1849, he lost his post as dramaturge at the Dresden court theater.

In March 1848 Gutzkow was in Berlin at the beginning of the revolution . In response to events there, he published his pamphlet Address to the People . His wife died in April of that year. In 1849 he ran for the Second Prussian Chamber in Berlin . In the same year he married a cousin of his first wife, Bertha Meidinger, with whom he subsequently had three daughters.

From July 1850, the first two books of his great contemporary and social novel The Knights of the Spirit continued to appear in the supplement to the Leipziger Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung . At the end of 1851 the novel was completely in book form: nine volumes with a total of around 4,100 pages.


Around 1860: Carte de Visite no. “1170”, presumably by an unknown copyist .

In 1852 a public controversy began with Julian Schmidt and Gustav Freytag , which made clear personal antipathies and aesthetic differences between Gutzkow and the advocates of 'programmatic realism '; it went down in literary history as the "Grenzbotenstreit" (after the name of the journal Die Grenzboten, edited by Schmidt and Freytag ). The dispute began with a slashing of the new edition of Gutzkow's Wally, the doubter (new edition under the title Past Days ) by Julian Schmidt, who also directed sharp personal attacks against Gutzkow. In the course of the dispute, Julian Schmidt declared that Gutzkow deserved to be persecuted “until he was destroyed”. From this perspective everything that Gutzkow wrote was panned in the border messenger from then on . In 1855 Gutzkow presented his novel poetological position, which differed from Schmidt and Freytag, in a criticism of Freytag's businessman novel Soll und haben .

From September 1852 Gutzkow published the weekly magazine Unterhaltungen am domestic stove , which he oversaw until 1862 and which was then published by his most important colleague, Karl Frenzel . From 1858 Gutzkow's second great novel The Magician of Rome appeared , which was not completed until 1861 and, like The Knights of the Spirit, also comprised nine volumes. In 1861 he moved to Weimar, where he became Secretary General of the Schiller Foundation, which he had played a decisive role in establishing in 1855 and 1859, respectively. At the end of 1864 Gutzkow resigned from office. In January 1865, at the height of a severe psychological crisis, Gutzkow tried to take his own life. He was sent to the St. Gilgenberg Sanatorium in Donndorf near Bayreuth, where he stayed until his release in December 1865. He then moved to one of his “recommended places of residence in semi-rural quiet” in Kesselstadt . There he lived between 1866 and 1869 on Philippsruher Allee in the so-called "Gutzkowhäuschen" (which has since been demolished for the construction of a high-rise)

In 1867/1868 Gutzkow's novel Hohenschwangau , which was completed in Kesselstadt, was published , and in 1869 his play Der Westphalian Peace was premiered. At the end of this year he moved to Berlin. In 1873 Gutzkow again had to struggle with serious psychological problems; there were repeated attacks of paranoia . He escaped from Berlin at the end of 1873 with his daughter Selma and traveled to Italy, where he spent the winter of 1873/74. In 1874 he settled with his family in Wieblingen , where he lived in the castle of Baron von La Roche-Starkenfels. In 1875 he moved to neighboring Heidelberg. In 1877 his last novel, Die neue Serapionsbrüder, appeared . That year he moved to Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen . In December 1878 Gutzkow died asleep in a smoldering fire . He was buried on December 19 in the Frankfurt main cemetery .


A Gutzkow monument (portrait bust of Emmerich Andresen ) was erected in Dresden in 1887 , which was melted down for armament purposes during World War II . In several German and Austrian cities, streets and squares have been named after Gutzkow (including Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt am Main, Fürth, Hamburg, Hanau, Munich, Neu-Isenburg, Nuremberg, Vienna). The student club located in a student residence in Dresden's Gutzkowstraße was named after him or the street and was one of the student clubs of the former "Friedrich List" University of Transport .


  • [Anon .:] Letters from a fool to a fool . Hamburg: Hoffmann u. Campe 1832 (novel)
  • Maha Guru . 2 vols. Stuttgart u. Tübingen 1833 (novel)
  • Novellas . 2 vols. Hamburg: Hoffmann u. Campe 1834
  • Public characters . 1st chapter. Hamburg: Hoffmann u. Campe 1835 digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Wally the doubter . Mannheim: Löwenthal 1835 (novel) digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Nero . Stuttgart u. Tübingen: 1835 (drama)
  • Soirees . 2 vols. Frankfurt / M .: Sauerländer 1835 (collection of short stories, including the Sadducee of Amsterdam )
  • Contributions to the history of recent literature . 2 vols. Stuttgart: Balz 1836
  • The contemporaries . 2 vols. Stuttgart: Verl. Der Classiker 1837. 2nd unchanged edition, Pforzheim: Dennig Finck 1842: 1st vol. Digitized and full text in the German text archive ; 2nd volume digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Seraphine . Hamburg: Hoffmann u. Campe 1837 (novel)
  • Gods, heroes, Don Quixote . Hamburg: Hoffmann u. Campe 1838
  • Richard Savage . 1839 (drama)
  • Blasedow and his sons . 3 vols. Stuttgart: Verl. Der Classiker 1838 (novel)
  • Börne's life . Hamburg: Hoffmann and Campe 1840 digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Patkul . Political tragedy in 5 acts. In: The border messengers. Vol. 2, 1842, 1st semester, pp. 97–106. Leipzig: Herbig 1842 digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Letters from Paris . 2 vols. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1842
  • Dramatic works . 9 vols. Leipzig: Weber; Lorck; Brockhaus 1842/57
  • Braid and sword. Comedy in five acts , 1844 ( digitized version of the 1887 edition with English commentary in the Internet Archive )
  • The archetype of the Tartüffe . 1844 (drama)
  • The wave bride . 1844 (novella)
  • The self-baptism . 1845 (novella)
  • Uriel Acosta . 1846 (drama)
  • Imagina balance wheel . Journal version 1847, first book edition 1849 (novella)
  • Ottfried . As a stage manuscript in 1848, first, clearly changed book version 1854 (drama)
  • Collected Works . 13 vol. Frankfurt / M .: Literary Institution 1845/1852
  • The knights of the spirit . 9 vols. Leipzig: Brockhaus 1850/1851 (novel)
  • From the boyhood . Frankfurt / M .: Literary Institution 1852 (autobiographical writing)
  • The nihilists . Journal version 1853, first book version 1856 (novella)
  • The deaconess . 1855 (novella)
  • A girl from the people . 1855 (novella)
  • The little world of fools . 1856 (collection of short stories and other texts, including the nihilists )
  • Laurel and myrtle. Historical character image in three acts , 1857 ( digitized from Google Books )
  • The magician of Rome . 9 vols. Leipzig: Brockhaus 1858/61 (novel)
  • Hohenschwangau . 5 vols. Leipzig: Brockhaus 1867/68 (novel)
  • From the tree of knowledge. Sayings . Stuttgart: Cotta 1868
  • The Peace of Westphalia . 1869 (drama)
  • The prisoner of Metz . 1870 (drama)
  • Pestalozzi's sons . 3 vols. Berlin: Janke 1870 (novel)
  • The warwolf . Historical narrative , Vienna 1871 ( digitized from Google Books)
  • Dramatic works . 20 vols. Jena: Costenoble 1871–1872
  • Fritz Ellrodt . 1872 (novel)
  • Collected Works . 12 vols. Jena: Costenoble 1873–1876
  • Looking back on my life . Berlin: Hofmann 1875 (autobiographical writing)
  • The new Serapion Brothers . 3 vols. Breslau: Schottlaender 1877 (novel): 1st vol. Digitized and full text in the German text archive ; 2nd volume digitized and full text in the German text archive ; 3rd volume digitized and full text in the German text archive

New editions

  • Gutzkow's works and letters. Annotated digital complete edition . Editionsprojekt Karl Gutzkow ". Oktober Verlag , Münster 2001ff .:
  • From the boyhood. Text critical u. annotated edition. Edited by Peter Hasubek. Olms, Hildesheim 2013 ISBN 978-3-487-14896-0
  • Letters and sketches from Berlin 1832–1834 . Ed., Comment. u. with e. Follow-up by Wolfgang Rasch. Aisthesis, Bielefeld 2008 ISBN 978-3-89528-672-8
  • About Goethe. At the turning point of two centuries . WFB Verlag, Bad Schwartau 2007 (series: Literarian Tradition) ISBN 978-3-86672-014-5
  • The knights of the spirit. Novel in nine books. Ed. Thomas Neumann. Edition in 3 volumes and commentary. Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt 1998 ( Haidnian antiquities ) ISBN 3-86150-278-X
  • Fonts . Edition in 2 volumes u. e. Commentary tape. Ed. Adrian Hummel. Two thousand and one, Frankfurt 1998. Series: Haidnian antiquities. ISBN 3-86150-279-8
  • Berlin - panorama of a royal seat . Ed., Afterword Wolfgang Rasch. Morgenbuchverlag, Berlin 1995. (Märkischer Dichtergarten) ISBN 3-371-00380-9
  • Liberal energy. A collection of his critical writings. Ed. Peter Demetz . Ullstein, Frankfurt 1974 ISBN 3-548-03033-5
  • Under the black bear. Experienced 1811–1848 . Edited by Fritz Böttger . Verlag der Nation , Berlin 1971


  • Rudolf von Gottschall: A word on Karl Gutzkow's grave , in: Die Gartenlaube. Illustrated family sheet. Born in 1879. Ernst Keil, Leipzig 1879, pp. 15–16.
  • Heinrich Hubert Houben: Karl Gutzkows life and work . Leipzig: Hesse [1908].
  • Eduard Metis: Karl Gutzkow as a playwright. (With use of unpublished pieces.) Stuttgart: Metzler 1915. (Wroclaw Contributions to the History of Literature. NF issue 48.)
  • Ludwig Maenner: Karl Gutzkow and the democratic idea. Munich u. Berlin: Oldenbourg 1921. (Historical Library. Vol. 46.)
  • Peter Hasubek: Karl Gutzkows novels "The Knights of the Spirit" and "The Magician of Rome". Studies on the typology of the German contemporary novel in the 19th century. Hamburg 1964.
  • Wilmont Haacke:  Gutzkow, Karl Ferdinand. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 354-357 ( digitized version ).
  • Eitel Wolf Dobert: Karl Gutzkow and his time. Bern, Munich: Francke 1968.
  • Rainer Funke: Persistence and upheaval. Karl Gutzkow on the way to literary modernity . Frankfurt a. M., Bern, New York, Nancy: Lang 1984. (Tübingen Studies on German Literature. Vol. 8.)
  • Erwin Wabnegger: literary scandal . Studies on the reaction of the public system to Karl Gutzkows novel "Wally, die Zweiflerin" (1835–1848) . Würzburg: Königshausen + Neumann 1987. (Poetry and Philology. Vol. 1.)
  • Gert Vonhoff: From the bourgeois individual to the social question. Novels by Karl Gutzkow . Frankfurt a. M., Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Vienna: Lang 1994. (Historical-critical work on German literature. Vol. 15.)
  • Erich Fritscher: Karl Gutzkow and the classicist historical drama of the 19th century. Studies on the tragedy of Philipp and Perez . Tübingen: Narr 1996. (Mannheimer contributions to linguistics and literary studies. Vol. 30.)
  • Roger Jones / Martina Lauster (eds.): Karl Gutzkow. Liberalism - Europeanism - modernity . Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verl. 2000. (Vormärz Studies. VI). ISBN 3-89528-242-1
  • Gustav Frank / Detlev Kopp (eds.): Read Gutzkow! Contributions to the international conference of the Vormärz Research Forum from September 18th to 20th in Berlin . Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verl. 2001. (Vormärz Studies. VIII.) ISBN 3-89528-325-8
  • Ute Promies: Karl Gutzkow - novelist and critical pedagogue . Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verl. 2003. ISBN 3-89528-388-6
  • Gisela Richter: Karl Gutzkow 1811–1878. Narrative studies . Bern [etc.]: Lang 2007. (Narratio. Vol. 18.) ISBN 978-3-03911-219-7
  • Wolfgang Rasch (ed.): Karl Gutzkow. Memories, reports and judgments of his contemporaries. A documentation. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter 2011. ISBN 978-3-11-020252-6
  • Wolfgang Lukas u. Ute Schneider (ed.): Karl Gutzkow (1811–1878). Journalism, literature and book market between the pre-March period and the early days. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2013. (Book studies. Vol. 84.) ISBN 978-3-447-06980-9 (Papers at a conference at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in March 2011 on the occasion of Karl Gutzkow's 200th birthday.)
  • Walter Hömberg: Between politics, poetry and journalism. Karl Gutzkow as a journalist. In: Arnulf Kutsch et al. (Ed.): Communication across borders. Studies by German-speaking communication scientists in honor of Prof. Dr. Joan Hemels. Berlin: LIT 2014, pp. 161–187. ISBN 978-3-643-12563-7
  • Wolfgang Rasch (ed.): Bibliography Karl Gutzkow (1829–1880) . Vol. 1: Primary literature . Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verl. 1998. (Bibliographies on the history of German literature, Vol. 5 [1. Teilbd.]); Vol. 2: Secondary literature , ibid. (Vol. 5 [2nd part]) ISBN 3-89528-180-8

Individual evidence

  1. See Wolfgang Rasch (ed.): Karl Gutzkow. Memories, reports and judgments of his contemporaries. A documentation. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2011, pp. 21ff., 536.
  2. Baseler Zeitung , No. 11 of Jan. 19, 1836, pages 43-44
  3. ^ H. Geibel: Kesselstädter houses and their inhabitants. City time. Magazine for Hanau, Issue 7 - 950 years of first mention of Kesselstadt, Hanau: Cocon, 2009, p. 294ff .; http://www.zeno.org/Literatur/M/Gutzkow,+Karl/Biographie (accessed on October 21, 2016)
  4. Wolfgang Rasch (ed.): Karl Gutzkow. Memories, reports and judgments of his contemporaries. A documentation. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter 2011. ISBN 978-3-11-020252-6 , pp. 392f.
  5. Web presence

Web links

Wikisource: Karl Gutzkow  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Karl Gutzkow  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files