Karl Otto Conrady

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Karl Otto Conrady (born February 21, 1926 in Hamm / Westphalia ; † July 1, 2020 in Cologne ) was a German literary historian , writer , editor and cultural politician .

life and work

Karl Otto Conrady spent childhood and youth in Hamm. In July 1944, after receiving the final certificate from the humanistic grammar school Hammonense in Hamm, he was obliged to do military service. In July 1945 Conrady, who was a party member of the NSDAP, was released as a 19-year-old from American prisoner-of-war captivity, into which he had become a private in the infantry of the Wehrmacht in April 1945. From August 1945 to May 1947 he worked as a clerk for a British military unit.

In 1947 Conrady was admitted to study at the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster , which he graduated with the state examination in 1952. In 1953 he received his doctorate with Benno von Wiese , and in 1957 he completed his habilitation with a thesis on the Latin tradition of poetry and German poetry of the 17th century . From 1958 to 1961 Conrady worked as a dietician at the University of Göttingen , in 1961 as a professor of modern German literature at the Saarland University in Saarbrücken and from 1962 to 1969 at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel . From 1969 to 1991, the year of his retirement , Karl Otto Conrady taught at the University of Cologne .

From 1967 to 1969, Conrady was a member of the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament as a member of the SPD and chairman of the cultural committee . He has not belonged to any party since 1977. However, he remained committed to cultural policy.

From 1976 to 1979 Karl Otto Conrady was chairman of the German Association of Germanists . He was a member of the PEN Center Germany , of which he was President from November 1996 to October 1998.

Karl Otto Conrady was best known as the editor of weighty anthologies of German-language poetry . The great Conrady . The book of German poems. From the beginning to the present day it is considered the collection of poetry par excellence in the German-speaking world. The book was first published in 1977 and was updated and expanded in 1991, 2000 and 2008. In addition, he was considered one of the leading experts on the life and work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , about whom he a. a. wrote an extensive biography.

Karl Otto Conrady lived in Rösrath while he was a Cologne university lecturer and has lived in Cologne since 2009 . He died on July 1, 2020 at the age of 94. He was buried in the family grave at the Ostenfriedhof in Hamm .

Single track

Literary studies

  • Latin tradition of poetry and German poetry of the 17th century. Bouvier Verlag, Bonn 1962.
  • Introduction to modern German literary studies. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1966.
  • With Eberhard Lämmert u. a .: German studies - a German science. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1967.
  • Literature and German studies as a challenge. Sketches and opinions. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1974.
  • Völkisch-national German studies in Cologne. An unfestive memory. Süddeutscher Hochschulverlag, Schernfeld 1990.

The Goethe books

  • Goethe. Life and work. 2 vols. Athenaeum Verlag, Königstein 1982/1984; New edition: Artemis & Winkler, Zurich, 1994, ISBN 3-538-06638-8 .
  • Goethe and the French Revolution. Island yearbook for 1989 . Release. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  • Goethe was here. Parodistic joke and seriousness. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994.
  • Goethe 250th conversation sheets not only for his anniversary. Landpresse, Weilerswist 1999.
  • Goethe. Life and work. New edition in one volume. Artemis & Winkler publishing house, Munich 1994; Artemis & Winkler publishing house in the Patmos publishing group, Düsseldorf 2006.

Poetry and essayistic prose

  • Heckling. Comments on current affairs. A selection for the 75th birthday. Landpresse, Weilerswist 2001.
  • Word drift. Poems. Landpresse, Weilerswist 2002.
  • Attempts to clarify. Essays on literature and current affairs. Allitera, Munich 2005.

Articles (selection)

  • How, why and to what end did I become a literary historian. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1972.
  • Experienced German studies. In: Discussion German , 19th edition, Diesterweg Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  • As a high school student in Pimpfenkluft. In: J. Wittkowski (Ed.): School stories from the Ruhr area. Publishing house Henselowsky Boschmann, Bottrop 2007.
  • A boy who turned eighteen in 1944. In: Alfred Neven DuMont: Born 1926/1927. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2007.
  • German Studies in Discussion: About some principles of dealing with your past. In: Die Zeit 5/65, January 29, 1965, Hamburg 1965


The Great Conrady / The Great German Poetry Book

  • The great German poetry book. Athenäum Verlag, Königstein 1977.
  • The great German poetry book. From 1500 to the present. Reissued and updated. Artemis & Winkler publishing house, Munich 1991.
  • The new Conrady. The great German book of poems from the beginning to the present . Artemis & Winkler publishing house, Düsseldorf and Zurich 2000.
  • Lots of poetry. Listen to Conrady. (Cassette with 21 CDs + two MP3 CDs). Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf 2008. Also as a booklet: Lauter Lyrik. Little Conrady. A collection of German poems. Ibid. 2008.
  • The great Conrady . The book of German poems. From the beginning to the present. Extended new edition. Artemis & Winkler publishing house in the Patmos publishing group, Düsseldorf 2008.

Other collections of poetry

  • At the highest altitudes. A poetry review . Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2005.
  • Poems of German Romanticism . Athenäum Verlag, Königstein 1979; New edition: Verlag Artemis & Winkler, Munich 1994.
  • From one country and from another. Poems about the German turnaround in 1989/1990 . With the essay German turning point. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1993.
  • The book of poems. German poetry from the beginning to the present. A collection for the school . Cornelsen Verlag, Berlin 1987.
  • Yearbook for Poetry 1 . Athenäum Verlag, Königstein 1979.
  • Yearbook for Poetry 2 . With Beate Pinkerneil. Athenäum Verlag, Königstein 1980.

Classical anthology

  • German literature at the time of the classical period , Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 1977.


  • Literature and reality. 26 volumes. Bouvier Verlag, Bonn 1967–1991.
  • Texts of German literature 1500–1800. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1968–1972.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Süddeutsche Zeitung of July 10, 2020: Obituary. Clarity in verbiage, by Willi Winkler , accessed on July 14, 2020
  2. In the anthology published by Alfred Neven DuMont in 2007, volume 1926/27. Conrady describes memories of the years under the swastika , how he staged “morning celebrations” in 1944 as a “ young tribe leader ” in uniform. a. the hundred-page brochure Goethe to us published by Baldur von Schirach . Great German used eternal thoughts . The volume was an attempt by the Reich Youth Leadership to capture and convey Goethe. Conrady writes: “There was quite a bit of (supposedly or really) suitable to be found.” And quotes Goethe from Zahme Xenien ( Who is an unusable man? / Who cannot command and also cannot obey. ) And the elective affinities : Men should be young wear uniforms because they have to get used to acting together, losing themselves among their own kind, obeying in bulk and working as a whole. Even any kind carried by a uniform military sense as well as a tighter, strackeres behavior , and all the boys are anyway nee soldiers; one only see their fighting and fighting games, their storming and climbing. (decreed by “the assistant”, II 7). Conrady sums up: "We were able to literature fans in the Pimpfenkluft even goethenah occur us in the marching youth columns and at the scouting games, at least not as stupid troublemakers." To reread in: Karl Otto conrady, A boy was eighteen in 1944 , S. 209 and 210 in Alfred Neven DuMont (Ed.): Born 1926/27. Memories of the years under the swastika. Anthology, DuMont Buchverlag, ISBN 978-3-8321-8059-1 , pp. 209-210.
  3. Tilman Jens : Father's Forgetting . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , March 4, 2008
  4. See chapter Biography of the site by Karl Otto Conrady (not accessible)
  5. In addition to his work at the university, he has been one of those university professors since the 1960s who endeavored to clarify the past of German German studies, which led to the important Munich Germanistenag of 1966. Quoted from: Author information on Karl Otto Conrady on the Patmos Verlag website
  6. This is what Arno Widmann calls the book Mother of All Poetry Anthologies . See also the note on Perlentaucher.de , seen on February 11, 2011
  7. ^ Obituaries of Karl Otto Conrady | We are sad. Accessed on July 18, 2020 (German).
  8. Text online on zeit.de, seen February 11, 2011, note: "Archive texts were automatically digitized and may contain errors."
  9. ^ Annual award 2009 on the website of the German Record Critics, as seen on February 12, 2011