Karl Robert Mandelkow

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Karl Robert Mandelkow (born December 7, 1926 in Hamburg ; † August 6, 2008 ibid) was a German studies scholar and professor of modern German literature at the University of Hamburg . He is one of the most important Goethe researchers of the 20th century.


The son of a police lieutenant attended elementary and secondary school in Hamburg-Eppendorf before he was drafted as an air force helper during the Allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943 . Towards the end of the war he served as a flag junior in the Air Force and was taken prisoner by the Americans in Italy in 1945, but was able to return to Hamburg at the end of the year and continue his interrupted schooling. From 1949 Mandelkow studied philosophy, theology and literary studies in Hamburg and financed his studies as a guitarist in Hamburg jazz clubs before he received a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation in 1955 at the instigation of his academic teacher Hans Pyritz (1905-1958) .

1956 put Mandelkow the first state examination for teaching in secondary schools, and in 1958 with a thesis on Hermann Broch's trilogy " The Sleepwalkers " to Dr. phil. PhD. He then worked as an assistant to Adolf Beck (1906–1981) until 1961 and began working on the edition of Goethe's letters for the Hamburg edition . In 1961 he went to the University of Amsterdam as a lecturer and in 1965 was appointed professor at the University of Leiden . Four years later he returned to Hamburg as a visiting professor, before being appointed to the chair of literary studies there in 1970 as Beck's successor. In 1977 he also took over the management of the Hamburg office of the Goethe dictionary ; In 1992 he retired.



  • 1962: Hermann Broch's novel trilogy Die Schlafwandler; Design and reflection in the modern German novel . Heidelberg, C. Winter.
  • 1968: Goethe's letters. Hamburg edition in four volumes (with Bodo Morawe ). 2nd edition, Christian Wegner Verlag, Hamburg.
  • 1976: Orpheus and Machine; Eight works on literary history . (= Poetry and Science, Volume IX) Heidelberg, Lothar Stiehm.
  • 1980, 1989: Goethe in Germany; Reception story of a classic . Volume I: 1773-1918 . Volume II: 1919-1982 . Munich, Beck.
  • 1982 (Ed.): European Romanticism I (= New Handbook of Literary Studies, Volume 14), Wiesbaden.
  • 1988 (Hrsg.): Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Letters and letters to Goethe, 6 volumes (with Bodo Morawe). Munich, Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-33048-3 .
  • 2001: Collected essays and lectures on classical and romantic reception in Germany , Frankfurt am Main a. a., Lang, ISBN 3-631-36933-6 .


  • Andreas Stuhlmann: Mandelkow, Karl Robert . In: Franklin Kopitzsch, Dirk Brietzke (Hrsg.): Hamburgische Biographie . tape 5 . Wallstein, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0640-0 , p. 247-249 .
  • Jörg Schönert, Harro Segeberg (Hrsg.): Polyperspektiven in the literary modern. Studies on the theory, history and impact of literature. Colloquium on the 60th birthday of Karl Robert Mandelkow . Hamburg 1988 (= Hamburg Contributions to German Studies, Volume 1).
  • Klaus Modick : Treasure digger in the lava field. Karl-Robert Mandelkows history of the impact of Goethe. In: Mercury 50 January 2nd, 1991.

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