Kurt Ruh

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Kurt Ruh (born May 5, 1914 in Neuhausen am Rheinfall ; † December 8, 2002 in Würzburg ) was a Swiss Germanic Medievalist . Until his retirement he was a professor at the University of Würzburg . His two-volume history of courtly epic and his four-volume history of occidental mysticism are standard works. Another important work of his scientific work is the author's lexicon - The German Literature of the Middle Ages , for which he was the main editor.


Kurt Ruh was born on May 5, 1914 in Neuhausen am Rheinfall. After attending the humanistic branch of the Schaffhausen Cantonal School, he studied German and Italian philology and philosophy at the universities of Zurich , Berlin and Rome . In 1939 he completed his studies, first with a doctorate and then with a diploma for higher education. Appraiser his dissertation on the late medieval Passion treatise of Henry of St. Gallen was Rudolf Hotzenköcherle .

This was followed by Swiss military service, initially as part of general full-time mobilization, then alongside work. From 1942 to 1960 he was a teacher at the grammar school department of the Protestant boarding school in Schiers , Graubünden. After the war, a scholarship gave Ruh the opportunity to prepare for a habilitation. He continued to research spiritual prose based on its tradition. In 1954 he completed his habilitation at the University of Basel on the subject of “Bonaventura deutsch. A contribution to the German Franciscan mysticism and scholasticism » . In 1958/59, Hugo Kuhn brought him to the University of Munich to take on a professorship, and soon afterwards he joined the newly founded Commission for German Medieval Literature of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . In 1960 he was appointed to the Würzburg Chair for German Philology, Older Department, succeeding Franz Rolf Schröder , where the Research Center for Medieval Prose Literature was founded under him in 1963 , from which in 1973 the Würzburg Research Group for German Prose des Medieval originated. From this research group, with the participation of the Institute for the History of Medicine headed by Gundolf Keil , the Collaborative Research Center 226 ( knowledge-organizing and knowledge-imparting literature of the Middle Ages ) of the universities of Würzburg and Eichstätt emerged. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences appointed Kurt Ruh a full member in 1979.

Despite several appointments (Innsbruck, Kiel, Bern) he remained loyal to the University of Würzburg. Here he worked successfully as an academic teacher for twenty years and as a productive and stimulating researcher and research organizer well beyond his retirement.

In 1981 he was awarded the Brothers Grimm Prize from the Philipps University of Marburg .

Major works (selection)

  • Bonaventure German. A contribution to the German Franciscan mysticism and scholasticism. Bern 1956 (= Bibliotheca germanica. Volume 7) (also: Philosophical habilitation thesis, University of Basel, 1953).
  • Courtly epic of the German Middle Ages. 2 volumes, Berlin 1967–1980 (until today the authoritative history of the genre of the German / French courtly novel).
  • Meister Eckhart [1260-1327]. Theologian, preacher, mystic. CH Beck, Munich 1985. 2nd edition 1989.
  • History of occidental mysticism . 4 volumes, CH Beck, Munich 1990–1999.
    • Volume I: The Foundation by the Church Fathers and the Monastic Theology of the 12th Century. 1990.
    • Volume II: Women's Mysticism and Franciscan Mysticism of the Early Period. 1993.
    • Volume III: The mysticism of the German order of preachers and their foundation by the university scholasticism. 1996.
    • Volume IV: The Dutch mysticism of the 14th to 16th centuries. 1999.

Editions (selection)

  • Old German and Old Dutch mysticism. Darmstadt, WBG 1964 (= ways of research , 23).
  • with Werner Schröder: Contributions to secular and spiritual poetry of the 13th to 15th centuries . Würzburg Colloquium 1970. Berlin, Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1973.
  • with Günther Schweickle: The joy of the minstrels. In: Journal for German Antiquity and German Literature, Volume 109, Issue 2, 1980.
  • with Hans-Jürgen Stahl: Traditional prose research: Contributions of the Würzburg research group to the method and evaluation. Tübingen 1985 (= texts and text history , 19).
  • Western mysticism in the Middle Ages. Engelberg Monastery Symposium 1984. Stuttgart, JB Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1986.
  • The German literature of the Middle Ages. Author Lexicon. 2nd edition, 14 volumes, 1993 ff. Study edition 11 volumes (without index volumes), 2010.

Festschriften for Kurt Ruh

  • Studies on literature and language of the Middle Ages. Kurt Ruh on his 60th birthday. Edited by P. Kesting, Munich 1975.
  • MEDIUM AEVUM GERMAN. Contributions to German literature of the high and late Middle Ages. Festschrift for Kurt Ruh on his 65th birthday. Edited by Dietrich Huschenbett, Klaus Matzel, Georg Steer and Norbert Wagner. Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 1979.
  • Traditional editions and studies on German literature of the Middle Ages. Kurt Ruh on his 75th birthday. Edited by Konrad Kunze , Johannes Gottfried Mayer and Bernhard Schnell . Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, 1989. ISBN 3-484-36031-3 .


  • In memory of Kurt Ruh (1914–2002) . De Gruyter, Berlin 2004.
  • Burghart Wachinger:  Ruh, Kurt. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , p. 240 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Burghart Wachinger: Kurt Ruh, obituary ( memento of December 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 938 kB). In: Yearbook of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , 2003.
  • Dini Hogenelst & Wybren Scheepsma: Kurt Ruh (1914–2002), Meester van de Middelnederlandse mystiek . In: The vaderen boek. Beoefenaren van de study of the Middelnederlandse letterkunde. Studies voor Frits van Oostrom the occasion of the vijftigste verjaardag . Ed. Wim van Anrooij, Dini Hogenelst & Geert Warnar. Amsterdam University Press, 2003, ISBN 9053566414 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johannes G. Mayer : Tauler sermons as specialist prose? Comments on specialized prose research. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 14, 1996, pp. 73-79; here: p. 75.