Paul Heyse

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Paul Heyse, photograph around 1885
Signature Paul Heyse FotoFranzHanfstaengl (cropped) .jpg

Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse , from 1910 von Heyse (born March 15, 1830 in Berlin , † April 2, 1914 in Munich ) was a German writer , playwright and translator . In addition to many poems, Heyse created around 180 short stories, eight novels and 68 dramas. Heyses biographer Erich Petzet praised the "comprehensiveness of his production". The edition of the works obtained by Petzet in 1924 comprises three series of five volumes each, each of which has around 700 pages (not all works are included). The influential Munich “poet prince” Heyse cultivated numerous friendships and was also famous as a host.

Theodor Fontane believed in 1890 that Heyse would “give his epoch its name” and that a “Heysean age” would follow Goethe's. In 1910 Heyse was the first German author of fiction to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature .


Parental home and school time

Photograph of the father Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse
The mother Julie Heyse, drawing by unknown

Heyse was born on March 15, 1830 in Berlin on Heiliggeiststrasse. The father Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse , associate professor for classical philology and general linguistics, was the tutor of Wilhelm von Humboldt 's youngest son from 1815 to 1817 and of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy from 1819 to 1827 . The mother, Julie Heyse b. Saaling came from the wealthy and art-loving family of the Prussian court jeweler Jakob Salomon , who called himself Saaling after converting from Judaism to Christianity. She was a cousin of Lea Salomon , the mother of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Cultivated society met in Paul Heyse's parents' house to talk about music and art. Heyse was a student at the renowned Friedrich Wilhelm High School until 1847 . His school-leaving certificate shows him as a model student. Even as a high school student he made his own poetic experiments and was involved in founding a poets' club.

Through his mother, Heyse gained access to the artistic salons in Berlin. In 1846 he met his future literary mentor, Emanuel Geibel , who was 15 years his senior and a poet who was popular at the time. Heyse showed Geibel his occasional and love poems. A lifelong friendship developed between the two writers, which also resulted in some joint works. Geibel introduced Heyse to the house of the art historian and writer Franz Kugler , who later became Heyse's father-in-law. There he got to know Jakob Burckhardt .

Academic years

After graduating from school, Paul Heyse began studying classical philology in Berlin in 1847. The beginning of spring 1848 , Heyse's first printed poem, expresses his enthusiasm for the March Revolution . After an enthusiastic excursion to the student guards, he soon withdrew from their circle, probably also out of consideration for his parents and Geibel. He came into contact with Adolph Menzel , Theodor Fontane and Theodor Storm . In 1849 Heyse joined her circle of poets, the tunnel over the Spree .

After two years of study in Berlin, in April 1849 he switched to studying art history and Romance studies at the University of Bonn . In 1850 he finally decided to become a poet and began his dissertation with Friedrich Diez , the founder of Romance philology in Germany. Because of a love affair with the wife of one of his professors, Heyse had to return to Berlin at Easter. In the same year his first work Der Jungbrunnen (fairy tales and poems) appeared anonymously, edited by his father. Heyse received a manuscript by the still unknown Theodor Storm from the publisher Alexander Duncker . His enthusiastic review of the summer stories and songs became the cornerstone of a lasting friendship with poets.

Heyse portrait by Adolph Menzel (1853)

In 1851 Heyse won an internal tunnel ballad competition with his ballad Das Tal von Espigno . Heyse's first novella Marion received an award in the tunnel in 1852 . In the same year the Spanish songbook , which was later set to music several times, was published with translations by Geibel and Heyse. It was the beginning of a lifelong career as a translator, in which Heyse did outstanding work , especially as a mediator of Italian literature ( Leopardi , Giusti ). In order to escape the stiff manners in the tunnel , some of the members met in December 1852 in the Rütli poet's association .

journey to Italy

In May 1852 Heyse was with a thesis on the chorus in the poetry of the troubadours doctorate Service. Thanks to a Prussian state grant, he was then able to go on a trip to Italy to examine old Provencal manuscripts. In 1852 he was banned from entering the library of the Vatican for taking notes on unprinted manuscripts.

Heyse had a happy academic year in Italy and made friends with numerous artists, including Arnold Böcklin and Joseph Victor von Scheffel . Under the influence of the Italian landscape, works emerged that made him widely known as a writer, including the tragedy Francesca von Rimini . Heyses most famous novella, L'Arrabbiata (1853), and his songs from Sorrento (1852/53) appeared as a contribution to the Argo , the Rütli yearbook .

Heyse in Munich

In 1852 Emanuel Geibel was appointed literary advisor to the Bavarian King Maximilian II . In 1854 he persuaded the king to call the young Paul Heyse, who at that time was still a talented but unknown beginner, to Munich with a high pension. To his surprise, the 24-year-old Heyse received an offer from Maximilian II to move to Munich for an annual pension of initially 1000 guilders and to write poetry there. Heyse was supposed to take part in the symposia organized by the king. In addition, he was granted the right to lectures at the university (professorship in Romance philology). After marrying Margaretha Kugler (1834–1862), Heyse arrived in Munich on May 25, 1854. At his first audience with the king, Heyse presented his verse tales to Hermen . As it turned out later, Heyse had to accompany his employer on trips and read at the queen's tea evenings. On the other hand, he did not exercise his right to lectures.

Heyse was now able to count himself to the intellectual elite of the third largest German state and enjoyed a lively sociable life. At the royal talks, the symposia, the young poet sat on an equal footing with Geibel and Friedrich Bodenstedt , alongside the best scientists in Munich such as the chemist Justus von Liebig , the philologist Friedrich Thiersch , the historians Heinrich von Sybel and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl and the doctor Max von Pettenkofer . The participants in the symposia had frequent interactions with the king and were more informal than some ministers.

In the marriage with Margaretha geb. Four children were born to Kugler. The firstborn, Franz, was born on August 22, 1855.

Paul Heyse, ca.1860

Between 1855 and 1874 Heyse was a member of the Munich casual society . With the "Northern Lights" Geibel and Riehl, who were also called to Munich, in 1856 he founded the poets' association Die Krokodile . The composer Robert von Hornstein , in whose house Heyse temporarily lived and to whom he provided some libretti, was also a member of the association .

In Zurich Heyse met Gottfried Keller in 1857 , with whom he soon entered into an exchange of ideas, mainly in the form of an exchange of letters (1859–1888), from which a lasting friendship developed. Since December 1854, Heyse also had a long-term correspondence with Eduard Mörike .

From 1859 on, Heyse had to take care of some members of the Kugler family and therefore accepted the unpopular editorial post at the literary journal for the German art journal . He turned down a tempting offer from Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach , who wanted to persuade him to move to Thuringia. During this time, a friendship with the Swabian poet Hermann Kurz began .

Inspired by a picture by his friend Bonaventura Genelli , Heyse wrote the novella The Centaur for Argo in 1860 . In the same year, the collection of Italian folk songs Italian songbook appeared , which was later set to music by Hugo Wolf under the same title.

In 1861 Heyse met Grillparzer and Hebbel on a visit to Vienna . At Heyse's persuasion, the publisher Wilhelm Ludwig Hertz took Fontane's ballads into his publishing house.

In 1862 the play Ludwig the Bavarian was created . Heyse edited Ein Münchner Dichterbuch together with Emanuel Geibel. Andrea Delfin appeared in the Neue Novellen collection . On September 30, 1862, Heyse's wife Margaretha died of a lung disease in Merano.

In 1867 Heyse married Anna Schubart (born May 25, 1849 - July 26, 1930) from Munich. The novella Beatrice appeared. In 1868 Ludwig II. Geibel withdrew the pension because of the poem To King Wilhelm , which celebrated the Prussian king as future emperor. Heyse then renounced his own pension and frankly stated that he was of the same opinion as Geibel. From 1868 to 1870 he wrote The Girl of Treppi, The Embroiderer of Treviso (short stories), Moral short stories and The Goddess of Reason (tragedy).

Heyse became a member of the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art in 1871 . In the introduction to the German Novell Treasure ( 24 volumes until 1876, edited with Hermann Kurz), he developed his falcon theory and published Die Embroiderer von Treviso (novella).

In the early 1870s, Heyse acquired a small house built in 1835 in Maxvorstadt , near the Glyptothek and the Propylaea on Königsplatz, which he had the architect Gottfried von Neureuther expand into a neoclassical villa in 1872-74 . Heyse received numerous friends and guests here. The Heyse Villa developed into a focal point of literature in Munich. Heyse walked his dog through Schwabing every day . The writer Hans Carossa remembered how respectfully the walkers greeted Paul Heyse in the English Garden .

In 1887 Heyse suggested that Ludwig Anzengruber be admitted to the Bavarian Maximilian Order. When the proposal failed due to objection from clerical circles, Heyse resigned from the order and returned the honorable award.

In 1895 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society .

Since 1899, Heyse spent the winter months in his villa in Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda for a decade . During this time he wrote the drama Maria von Magdala , Neue Märchen and Das literäre München - 25 portrait sketches . The aging poet still presented much, but little new. Farewells and sentimental retrospectives can be found in his poems.

Adolph von Menzel (center), Paul Heyse (left) and his wife (right) in Heyses Munich apartment in 1902
Tomb for Paul and Anna Heyse in the Munich forest cemetery

In 1900 Heyse published his childhood memories and confessions . He became Munich's honorary chairman of the German Goethe Association and an honorary member of the German Schiller Foundation . Special issues ( youth ), albums and numerous publications appeared on his 70th birthday . Wilhelm Bölsche , Georg Brandes , Maximilian Harden and Alfred Kerr dedicated a birthday article to him, among many others.

The old “poet prince” continued to study the activities of the younger generation of writers. As a literary critic, he kept an eye for the qualitative and the new. He also gave competent judgments in a familiar circle.

The city of Munich made Heyse an honorary citizen in 1910 on the occasion of his 80th birthday . Prince Regent Luitpold granted him the personal title of nobility, which he never made use of. On December 10th, Heyse was the first German author of fiction to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Last Novellas and Italian Folk Tales were Heyse's last work in 1914. Heyse died as the last of the great narrators of the 19th century on April 2, 1914, a few months before the outbreak of the First World War . He was buried in an upper-class tomb in the old part of the Munich forest cemetery (grave no. 43-W-27a / b).

Personal impact

Heyse was a center of literary life in Germany. In Munich he was not only considered a literary role model and influential art pope, but also a popular host. He became involved as the poet's lawyer, who campaigned for the legal and social concerns of his class, and as a patron. In addition to his own work, he always worked on the manuscripts of others.

Poets' Association The Crocodiles

In 1856 Heyse was instrumental in founding the poet's association Die Krokodile . He came up with the idea of exchanging ideas and promoting them with younger South German poets in a literary salon . In a short time a lively literary circle developed from the crocodiles . In the men's alliance, similar customs were cultivated as in a Masonic lodge. With wreaths of vine leaves in their hair, the poets joked in an encrypted club language that only the initiated could understand. Lectures and discussions were always treated as solemn moments.

The better-known members of the association included Geibel and Heyse, the cultural historian Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl , Felix Dahn , Wilhelm Hertz , Hermann Lingg , Franz von Kobell , Friedrich Bodenstedt , the composer Robert von Hornstein , the travel writer and art patron Adolf Friedrich von Schack . (Heyse, Riehl, Dahn, Hertz, Kobell and Bodenstedt were also members of another gentlemen's club, the Munich casual society .)

Of the older generation of Munich writers, the poet Emanuel Geibel initially enjoyed the greatest authority. When Geibel left in 1868, Paul Heyse became the leader of the association. The feeling of togetherness was lost under his leadership. The group fell apart between 1878 and 1882.

Heyse as host

Paul Heyse photographed
Franz Hanfstaengl in December 1878

In 1874, the renovation of the newly acquired residential building on Munich's Luisenstrasse was completed. The neoclassical Heyse Villa was opposite the Lenbach Villa . At the entrance one was greeted by a statue of a boy praying. Max Halbe reported: "It was a home of poets filled with pictures, busts, antiques, art objects and memories of a long life."

Thanks to his talent for friendship, Heyse was predestined to host larger societies. The writer Isolde Kurz , a “master of speech”, wrote that he was a “beautiful and lovable man” , of high culture and with “a wonderful diplomatic demeanor”. Fontane remembered: "[...] even the most vain found it a pleasure to hear him speak." The innumerable aphorisms that are collected in Heyse's oeuvre give an impression of his ingenuity.

In the Heyse house, almost everyone who had rank and name in the literary, artistic and scientific life of Munich met. With Michael Bernays , the first full professor in Germany for modern German literary history since 1874, Heyse met almost every day until 1897. The Munich press represented editors of high-circulation liberal papers, including Baron Fritz von Ostini , who worked as a literary critic for the regional newspaper Münchner Latest Nachrichten and in 1896 as editor of the magazine Jugend . That is why young authors who knew how to appreciate the influence of the “artist prince” and his circle often came to Heyse. Frank Wedekind , Isolde Kurz and Joachim Ringelnatz were among them . The poet always took a lot of time for his guests, gave advice and tried to help.

He had a lifelong close relationship with the art historian, music writer and novelist Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl . The early naturalist playwright Max Halbe and the writer Ernst von Wolzüge , the founder of the first literary cabaret in Berlin , also accepted his invitations . Heyse counted the Wagner conductor Hermann Levi among his friends, as well as the economist Max Haushofer and the lawyer Max Bernstein . His most loyal friends were painters. Heyse can be counted among the early supporters of Bonaventura Genelli , Franz Lenbach and Arnold Böcklin . He himself has dabbled successfully in this art and has drawn a lot on his travels.

“The comparison with Weimar and the house on Frauenplan was obvious,” said the playwright Max Halbe about Heyse's villa: “Here as there, it was a small court. For many years, well over a generation, people had made pilgrimages to Heyse in Munich as they had previously to Goethe in Weimar. "

Relationships with other authors

Heyse also offered help and friendship to numerous contemporary authors beyond Munich. He repeatedly encouraged the Swabian poet Hermann Kurz and finally, after his death, put together the complete edition in 1874/75. Heyse tried to get Theodor Fontane, who was then penniless, a job with the Bavarian King Maximilian II . Theodor Storm owed him the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art from 1883, the most important award during his lifetime. Heyse was an equal partner to these two elders until their death. Manuscripts were exchanged and critically examined. Many of the letters contain suggestions for new novellas as well as discussions on literary theory. In terms of size, he became Fontane's second most important correspondent and the most important for Storm and the poet Emanuel Geibel.

Heyse's contacts extended to all literary provinces in Germany. Jacob Burckhardt and Gottfried Keller corresponded with him in Switzerland . Heyse was also friends with Turgenev , and he was one of the first to introduce Dostoevsky to Germany.

Even many younger writers could not deny him respect for his diverse work: “Perhaps only Maupassant gave me as many exemplary technical and stylistic examples as Paul Heyse,” wrote Ludwig Ganghofer . "In front of many pages of his books, on which I found an excited process described, I was able to sit for half a day and ponder how he managed it: to describe the strongest movement with the calmest words."

Cultural engagement

Heyse did not hesitate when it came to enforcing the rights of authors and strengthening the self-confidence of the profession. From 1855, as a leading member of the Schiller Foundation, the most important professional association of German authors at the time , he was able to participate in the decision-making process for financial support for writers in need. In 1871 he initiated the cooperative of German playwrights and composers , which was primarily intended to end the authors' lack of rights. To defend against the Lex Heinze , a more stringent censorship law, the Goethe-Bund was founded in 1900 , Heyse became honorary chairman in Munich.

In 1867, Heyse took part in the call for a national donation for Ferdinand Freiligrath and in 1887 supported a call for a Heine monument to be erected in Düsseldorf. On many occasions he used his authority, his talent, but also his money. The “poet prince” was not too bad to write a prologue on the best of the warming rooms in Munich or to warn of effective animal protection with the poem The Dog Grave by Oxia .

In his works he criticized bigotry, especially the bigotry of the clergy. Over time he became more and more a self-confident critic of German cultural policy. One example is his behavior in the commission of the Prussian Schiller Prize for the best dramatic work of the last three years, which Heyse himself was awarded in 1884. When Ludwig Fulda's talisman was rejected by Wilhelm II in 1893 , apparently because of the author's Jewish descent, Heyse renounced the honorary position on the selection committee from 1896.

Political attitude

Heyse was a middle-class man, a liberal-minded Bismarckian. Like many of his fellow writers, he had high hopes for the founding of the empire . He saw in this the fulfillment of the goals of the revolution of 1848 . In a withheld note from Heyse's biographer Erich Petzet, it says: “After Bismarck's release, Heyse was unforgiving and refuses to apologize, even to his best friends. [...] Heyse instinctively sees Wilhelm II as the spoiler of Germany. ”When Bismarck visited Munich in 1892, Heyse also cheered the guest of honor in the poem. He enjoyed his participation in the convivial evening with the Prince in the Lenbach Villa .

Despite his enthusiasm for Bismarck, Heyse largely avoided the national and was not susceptible to chauvinism . In part, he rejected Bismarck's policy. During the time of the Socialist Law , it is said to have covered extensive illegal broadcasts by the Social Democrats. He did this out of a general sympathy for the oppressed and disadvantaged.

Literary work and reception


Heyse first attracted attention with his poems, for example during his first appearances in the Berlin “Sunday Association” tunnel over the Spree . With the ballad Das Tal des Espingo he prevailed in 1851 in a competition in the “tunnel” against Fontane's day by Hemmingstedt and Bernhard von Lepel's Danish brothers . In the eyes of the expert poet colleagues, Heyse's poems could compete with Fontane's much-appreciated ballads.

Heyse became one of the most widely set poets of his time. 32 music versions are known of the poem Im Walde alone .


The total of 177 novellas are to be regarded as the most important part of the overall work, although Heyse considered them to be a by-product of his work. Andrea Delfin or The Embroiderer of Treviso are among the best in this genre alongside the novellas Storms and Keller . The quality of the novels, however, is very inconsistent, which Heyse himself admitted in his autobiography Jugendermermerungen und Confessions (Berlin 1900). After a thorough planning of the daily workload, the stories were written down in one go; In the print only careless mistakes were corrected and some words were replaced by more suitable ones. Heyse avoided superficial and lengthy descriptions. Many of the younger authors, from Thomas Mann to Isolde Kurz , were among his readers.

In his stories, Heyse mostly represented an apolitical concept, an artistic idealism. Art should gild, ennoble, present the temporal "in the light of the eternal". A novel title from 1864 names the basic motif of many stories - The journey to happiness . The characters in Heyses' novellas and novels are often “beautiful souls”: exemplary, noble and artistically sensitive youths or selflessly acting “deed women”. The sensitive, intellectually high-ranking idealist proves to be unsuitable for Heyse to take up the fight with the lower and the mean, he reacts with silence and renunciation. The readers identified with these withdrawn characters living in a “beautiful” world of art. Like the author, they passionately rejected the immoral and bigoted society. According to Meyer's Konversationslexikon (4th edition, 1880s), a remarkable development of the poet lies in the fact that "the later novels no longer evade even more harsh conflicts and a gloomy background." The novella Andrea Delfin deals with the theme of the just avenger who creates new injustice.

Another aspect is Heyse's preference for sprinkling "nudities". Heyse remained an erotic author all his life. His reputation as a scandal writer increased the advertising impact and the demand for the so-called family papers in which stories by Heyse appeared (for example, Die Gartenlaube or Über Land und Meer ).

Heyse recognized an innovative achievement of his generation in the development of the novella: “In the area of ​​the novella, unlike others, we had not inherited a rich legacy from our fathers from the classical era that we would have had to 'acquire in order to own it' . […] Since then, however, we have tried to make higher demands on the novella than that it satisfies an idle need for entertainment and pleases us with a series of colorful adventures. "

Heyse also developed his own novel theory. It went down in literary history as the “falcon theory”, as Heyse explained it using the example of Boccaccio's falcon novella , in which a young man in love but impoverished served his loved one his only possession, a falcon, as food. Heyse derived two categories from this: the “falcon” is the special thing that must be found in every novella, the “silhouette” is the concentration on this basic motif. This theory, which Heyse first presented in the introduction to the German Novell Treasure in 1871 , was not really new and not only applicable to novels. Even for Heyse himself as an author and editor of the novella treasure, it was not a rigid guideline. Werner Bergengruen explicitly referred to the falcon theory in the well-read novella Die Drei Falken (1937) and also in his lecture Novelle und Gegenwart (1962).


Heyse gained international fame especially through his first novel Kinder der Welt (1873), which identified him as a modern-thinking poet. He drew the figure of Franzelius, a socialist, as someone who gives up a civil career for his ideals. The utopia of a society made up of free thinkers affected the attitude towards life of the young generation who had entered the new empire. The writer Richard Voss went to Villa Heyse in his enthusiasm to thank the poet personally. In 1900 Voss reminded that hardly anyone could imagine how much the book - a “great spiritual act” - had had an effect on young people when it appeared.

Heyse later gave up the "heroic illusions" and developed a depressive view of the "sick [...] and aesthetically confused" time. In his novel Merlin , published in 1892, Heyse cursed the "pitchfork art" of modernity for pages. He had the main character Georg Falkner say: “But no matter how hotly the ideal to drive out homesickness for the beautiful and the great with the pitchfork of naturalism , it keeps coming back.” Heyse said he had created one of his best works here . By literary literary contemporaries, the book was seen primarily as an embarrassing trend novel against the naturalists.


The youth drama Francesca von Rimini was lively discussed in Berlin's literary circles because of some allegedly revealing passages.

With the tragedy Die Sabinerinnen in 1859 Heyse won a literary prize given by the Bavarian king for the first time. With the play Ludwig the Bavarian (1862) Heyse fulfilled a long-cherished wish of Maximilian II to create a Bavarian historical drama . However, the piece failed when it was performed.

1864 followed the drama in four acts Hans Lange , which in Rügenwalde in Pomerania is located and the legend from the farmer Hans Lange as its theme, which is the youth of the Pomeranian Duke Bogislaw X climbs. The subject had previously been taken up by the Pomeranian poet Wilhelm Meinhold (* 1797; † 1851).

In 1865 he wrote the tragedy Hadrian (the work received a stage award in Athens in the Greek translation), the tragedy Maria Maroni and the drama Colberg , Heyses' most popular play. After hundreds of Colberg performances all over Germany, the author received the honorary citizen certificate of the city of Kolberg on March 31, 1890 . The drama appeared in 180 editions by 1914. It was compulsory reading at Prussian grammar schools and was part of the regular repertoire of school celebrations on the Emperor's birthday or on Sedan Day .

The performance of the religious drama Maria von Magdala (1899) was banned by the Prussian censors in 1901 . Thereupon began a great solidarity movement in favor of the poet. In Munich, where the powerful ultramontane center party controlled theater life restrictively, a performance was even allowed in order to distinguish itself from Berlin. The censorship process in Prussia dragged on until 1903.


Heyse's memories of youth and confessions (1900) are an exciting autobiography. The poet, himself a celebrity who frequented established circles, provided precise descriptions of famous men of his time, including literary portraits of friends Adolph Menzel and Emanuel Geibel , Theodor Fontane and Hermann Kurz , Ernst Wichert and Ludwig Laistner . Like Goethe in Poetry and Truth , Heyse did not limit himself to private episodes, but rather presented a balance sheet of the 19th century, conscious of his public role. The story of his life is at the same time an informative document about the conditions in Berlin and Munich.

Heyse as the rediscoverer of Italy

Heyse can be seen as the rediscoverer of Italy in 19th century German literature. He called Italy and Germany his two fatherlands. It was through Heyse's mediation that the then newer Italian literature became known in Germany. As a tireless translator from Italian and as the editor of the foreign novella treasure trove (1872/1903), Heyse has contributed a great deal to the cultural exchange. In the years from 1889 to 1905, his anthology of Italian poets appeared in five volumes from the middle of the 18th century. It contains translations of poems by Manzoni , Leopardi and D'Annunzio . With the Italian folk tales he retold, he also secured a place for this literature in Germany. A collection of popular Italian poems translated into German by Heyse was set to music by Hugo Wolf under the name Italian Songbook .

With his novellas, too, Heyse understood how to bring the Germans closer to the country and its people, language and history. He conveyed his knowledge of the country in an entertaining way in the form of the story. Last but not least, his Italian girl characters were popular, such as Laurella from L'Arrabbiata (1853) or the title character of the novella Nerina (1875).

Favorite author of the Germans

Heyse had been a favorite German author since the 1860s. For the German bourgeoisie, he was the guarantee of perfectly shaped poetry that followed the classic ideals of the “great” Goethe and at the same time preserved them for the present. He was also a popular author for the working class, whom Franz Mehring expressly warned in an essay against the poet who was caught in his class barriers. His first novel Kinder der Welt made him very popular. Heyses's picture hung in art shops during his lifetime.

Heyse was noted in the literary journals of Germany during his most productive and successful creative phase, but there were noticeably few reviews of individual works. Heyse was still revered by his readers. On Heyse's big birthdays, tons of congratulations and appreciations were formulated. Werner Martin documented 112 articles on Heyse's 70th birthday (1900) and 99 articles on his 80th birthday (1910), including 17 articles on the occasion of the Nobel Prize award.

By 1900 Heyse had passed the height of his fame. The younger generation rejected him as a representative of the older generation of poets. During a visit, the young Joachim Ringelnatz had problems when the poet asked "What do you know, for example?" At least to perform his once popular song from Sorrento . When Hans Carossa began reading the novel Children of the World around 1897 , he could hardly get over the first third. In Simplicissimus , the best satirical magazine before the First World War, Heyse only appears as a caricature.

Criticism of Heyse

Heyse was an opponent of naturalism at an early stage . As early as 1882 he dedicated a ridiculous poem to the naturalists in the New Munich Poet , in which he made them contemptuous as "Crapüle" (rabble). A change of mood against Heyse began in 1885 when the naturalistic authors of the magazine Die Gesellschaft Heyse moved into the center of literary debates. For the year 1885, the Heyse bibliography lists ten articles on the poet for the first time, seven of them in the newly founded society , the most important early naturalist journal until 1889. The Munich-based writer Michael Georg Conrad called for an end to the "surrogate manufacture" of the so-called family papers. Although Conrad himself was born in 1846, the generational struggle - the replacement of Heyses - was one of the general themes of society . In the opinion of the naturalists, the influential “artist prince” Heyse had to be fought, because “his significance and uniqueness could only develop in a certain Munich milieu of narrowly limited sense of beauty and dull sedation,” said Conrad. The Heyse-hostility was also attended by the Berlin employees of the company , Conrad Alberti and Karl Bleibtreu taken over.

Munich naturalism was less a new literary direction than a struggle led by intellectuals against the nouveau riche Gründerzeit mentality, cultural stagnation and aestheticism, against false piety and the mendacity of public morality. A halfway closed program or a literary work in which the required renewal would become visible did not emerge from the circle around Michael Georg Conrad. Stylistically and formally, the texts hardly offered anything new compared to the so violently feuded traditional narrative styles. What was new was the aggressive tone with which the group - soon also against the Berlin naturalists around Gerhart Hauptmann - attracted attention.

It is noticeable that Heyse received a certain amount of justice at the beginning. Bleibtreu dealt with him in 1886 in his program publication Revolution der Litteratur as a significant, erotic epic. After Conrad and his colleagues soon recognized the value of an "enemy Heyse" for their own profile, Heyse was only seen by the Munich naturalists as an epigone without creativity of his own, his language was "poor in spirit", the characters "flat and unattractive" psychological technique "raw and frivolous". Alberti criticized him as “forger of the worst kind”. Heyse's choice of material and his motivations were criticized. He is allegedly pityless and disinterested, his language appears feminine and decrepit. Konrad Alberti explicitly saw in Heyse 1889 not just the individual, but a "symbol". His criticism resulted in the much-quoted sentence, which he later withdrew: "Reading Heyse means being a person without taste - Admiring Heyse means being a rascal." The violent and sometimes witty abuse of the Heyse opponents work in literary historical representations of the present.

It was not just an aesthetic debate about better literature. The person of the “artist prince” - his partly Jewish origin, his “manliness”, his character traits, his alleged “honorary urgency” - was attacked. There was always a good portion of envy in the justified critical objections. Thus Bleibtreu says with reference to Heyse: “Do you know what is important that a Goethe [...] is developing nowadays? On the bag of the same or on his nerd talent, on nothing else. ”The feud between Heyse and Conrad lasted a long time. Conrad used his novel Majestät (1912) to make a number of swipes against Heyse.

Posthumous reception

In Augsburg, Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, Vienna and Landshut a street was named after Heyse.

In the decades after the First World War, which were filled with feelings of revenge, nationalist-minded readers encountered the cosmopolitan Heyse, who was also of Jewish descent by mother. When Heyses Schauspiel Colberg was largely used by Veit Harlan in 1943/44 as a template for the script for the Nazi persistence film Kolberg , this could not be mentioned publicly.

Works (selection)

  • 1855: novellas . Hertz, Berlin ( digitized and full text in the German text archive ) contains: Die Blinden (1852), Marion (1852), L'Arrabbiata (1853), Am Tiberufer
  • 1855: Novella The Girl from Treppi
  • 1857: Novella beginning and end
  • 1857: The lonely novella
  • 1859: Tragedy The Sabine Women
  • 1860: Novella Der Centaur (reworked in 1870 under the title The Last Centaur )
  • 1860: Italian songbook , a collection of Italian folk songs
  • 1862: Ludwig the Bavarian play . Digitized from the Internet Archive
  • 1862: Novelle Andrea Delfin , published in the Neue Novellen collection ( Andrea Delfin was transferred to the Insel-Bücherei in 1927 under no. 86/2 )
  • 1862: A Munich book of poets (as editor, together with Emanuel Geibel)
  • 1864: Collected short stories in verse (expanded 1870)
  • 1864: Merano novellas
  • 1864: Drama Hans Lange ( online )
  • 1864: Novella The Journey to Happiness
  • 1865: Hadrian's tragedy
  • 1865: Maria Maroni tragedy
  • 1865: Novella The Widow of Pisa
  • 1865: Drama Colberg
  • 1866: poem women emancipation , a "fasting sermon"
  • 1866: Novella Risen
  • 1867: novella Beatrice
  • 1869: Novella The Embroiderer of Treviso
  • 1870: Tragedy The Goddess of Reason . Digitized from the Internet archive
  • 1873: Roman Kinder der Welt (preprinted in 1872 in the Berliner Spenersche Zeitung ), Heyses first novel. Digitized by Hathitrust
  • 1875: Melusine novella Das Seeweib
  • 1875: Novella Judith Stern
  • 1875: novel Im Paradiese
  • 1877: Novella The Lady Marquesa
  • 1877: Novella Beppe the Star Seer
  • 1877: Novella Two Prisoners
  • 1878: Nerina novella
  • 1878: Novella Jorinde
  • 1879: Novella The Witch of the Corso
  • 1879: Novella Romulus grandson
  • 1880: Poems Verses from Italy Digitized from the Internet Archive
  • 1881: Novella The Donkey
  • 1882: Troubadour novellas
  • 1883: Novella Unforgettable Words
  • 1885: Novella Heavenly and Earthly Love
  • 1885: Novella On Death and Life
  • 1887: Novella Villa Falconieri
  • 1892: Roman Merlin
  • 1894: Novella Melusine
  • 1895: novel Above all peaks . Digitized from the Internet Archive
  • 1898: Melusine novella The Mermaid
  • 1899: Drama Mary of Magdala
  • 1900: Youth memories and confessions (autobiography). Digitized from the Internet Archive
  • 1900 Novella: The Guardian Angel (published in the gazebo)


  • Paul Heyse: Collected Works (Complete Edition). Edited by Markus Bernauer and Norbert Miller . Hildesheim: Olms 1984 ff.
  • Paul Heyse: Novellas , selection and epilogue by Rainer Hillenbrand. Contents: L'Arrabbiata / Andrea Delfin / The Embroiderer of Treviso / The Last Centaur / Sorrow / Heavenly and Earthly Love / FVRIA / The House of “To Unbeliever Thomas” or Des Spirit's Revenge / The Mermaid, Manesse Verlag, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3 -7175-1918-2 .
  • Paul Heyse: The Centaur. Italian short stories. Edited by Mirko Gemmel. Afterword by Norbert Miller . Berlin: Ripperger & Kremers 2014, ISBN 978-3-943999-19-8 .
  • Paul Heyse: song source, dream and magic. Selected poems. Ed., Commented and with an afterword by Walter Hettche. Munich: Allitera 2013.


  • Fritz Martini:  Heyse, Paul. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , pp. 100-102 ( digitized version ).
  • Roland Berbig and Walter Hettche (eds.): Paul Heyse. A writer between Germany and Italy . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2001 (Literature - Language - Region 4), ISBN 3-631-37378-3 .
  • Sigrid von Moisy u. Karl Heinz Keller (Ed.): Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois age (exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek , 23 January to 11 April 1981), CH Beck , Munich 1981.
  • Walter Hettche: Theodor Storm and Paul Heyse. Literary and biographical aspects of a poet friendship. In: Storm sheets from Heiligenstadt. 1995, pp. 39-57.
  • Urszula Bonter: Paul Heyse. Court poet and public writer . In: The highest honor that can be bestowed on a writer. German-speaking Nobel Prize Winners for Literature , ed. by Krzysztof Ruchniewicz and Marek Zybura. Neisse, Dresden 2007, pp. 61-88, ISBN 978-3-940310-01-9 .
  • Wolfgang Beutin: Purifying the real to beauty. In: Award-Winning. Twelve authors from Paul Heyse to Herta Müller. Selected works, examined critically. Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-63297-0 , pp. 31-53.


  • Werner Martin (Ed.): Paul Heyse - a bibliography of his works . With an introduction by Norbert Miller. Olms, Hildesheim 1978 (Bibliographies on German Literature 3), ISBN 3-487-06573-8 (187 pages).

To the novellas

  • Rainer Hillenbrand: Heyses Novellen: a literary guide . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1998, 991 pages, ISBN 3-631-31360-8 . (Hillenbrand names what, in his opinion, are the 17 best novels by Heyses.)
  • Rolf Füllmann: The Gründerzeit neo-renaissance novella: Paul Heyse fictionalized Burckhardt. In: Ders .: The novella of the neo-renaissance between 'Gründerzeit' and 'Untergang' (1870–1945): Reflections in the rear-view mirror. Tectum, Marburg 2016, pp. 181–256. (including on Heyses novella 'Die Embroiderer von Treviso')
  • Ders .: The symbolic wounds. Paul Heyse's novellas and female desire. In: Veszprémi Egyetem: Studia Germanica Universitatis Vesprimiensis, ISSN  1417-4340
    • Part 1: Female figures between the fantastic and the exotic. In: Vol. 2 (1998), Issue 2, pp. 145-166.
    • Part 2: Self-confident femininity in literary and essayistic texts . In: Vol. 3 (1999), Issue 1, pp. 37-57.
  • Torsten Hoffmann: Swimming in blood. Love and violence in Paul Heyse's underrated novella 'L'Arrabbiata'. In: literature for readers 32 (2009), pp. 135–148.
  • Nicole Nelhiebel: Epic in Realism. Studies on the verse novellas by Paul Heyse . Igel-Verlag Wissenschaft, Oldenburg 2000 (literature and media studies 73), Uni Bremen Diss. 1999, ISBN 3-89621-104-8 .

On other parts and aspects of the work

  • Sebastian Bernhardt: The individual, the norms and love in the narrative complete works of Paul Heyses , Ergon Verlag, Würzburg 2013. 250 pages, ISBN 978-3-89913-973-0 .
  • Urszula Bonter: The novel by Paul Heyse. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2008. 262 pages.
  • Gabriele Kroes-Tillmann: Paul Heyse Italianissimo. About his seals and re-seals. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1993, ISBN 3-88479-787-5 .
  • Jürgen Joachimsthaler : Wild flowers on ruins. National literary (dis) integration with Paul Heyse . In: Maria Katarzyna Lasatowicz , Jürgen Joachimsthaler (ed.): National identity from a Germanistic perspective. Opole 1998, pp. 217-254.

To the correspondence

  • Fridolin Stähli (Ed.): "You have everything that I lack ..." Gottfried Keller in correspondence with Paul Heyse. Th. Gut & Co., Stäfa (Zurich) 1990, ISBN 3-85717-062-X .
  • Jacob Bernays : “You, from whom I live!” Letters to Paul Heyse . Edited by Wiliam M. Calder III and Timo Günther. Wallstein, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0743-8 (with two letters from Heyse to Bernays).
  • Walter Hettche: Paul Heyse's correspondence. Editing options, illustrated using the example of correspondence with Berthold Auerbach. In: Euphorion 89 (1995), pp. 271-321.
  • Walter Hettche: literary politics . The “Munich Literary Society” as reflected in the correspondence between Paul Heyse and Ludwig Ganghofer. In: Zeitschrift für Bayerische Landesgeschichte 55 (1992), no. 3, pp. 575-609.
  • The correspondence between Karl Frenzel and Paul Heyse . Edited by Walter Hettche. In: Berliner Hefte on the history of literary life.  6 (2004), ISSN  0949-5371 , pp. 105-123.
  • The correspondence between Emanuel Geibel and Paul Heyse . Edited by Erich Petzet. Lehmann, Munich 1922, 356 pages. Forgotten Books 2017, ISBN 978-0-259-91953-7 .

To the diaries

  • Roland Berbig and Walter Hettche: The diaries of Paul Heyses and Julius Rodenberg. Options for their development and documentation. In: Jochen Golz (Hrsg.): Edition of autobiographical writings and testimonies to biography. International conference of the Working Group for German Edition at the Weimar Classic Foundation, 2. – 5. March 1994, author- and problem-related presentations. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1995 (supplements to editio, volume 7), pp. 105-118.

Web links

Commons : Paul Heyse  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Paul Heyse  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Heyse was and is often referred to as the “poet prince”. Cf. Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 .
  2. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , pp. 18 ff.
  3. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 22 f.
  4. ^ Walter Rehm: Paul Heyse and Jakob Burckhard In: Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Vol. 61, 1961, pp. 131-143
  5. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 37 f.
  6. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 44 f.
  7. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bavarian State Library, 23 January to 11 April 1981. Beck, Munich, 1981 (exhibition catalog of the Bavarian State Library 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 ff, p 46th
  8. Informal Society: One Hundred and Fifty Years Informal Society Munich 1837–1987 , University Printing and Publishing House Dr. C. Wolf and Son KG, Munich 1987, 159 pages
  9. Correspondence from Gottfried Keller , see under Paul Heyse
  10. ^ Anna Heyse entry in the Kalliope network
  11. The goddess of reason: tragedy in 5 acts ; Berlin 1869 Verlag Wilhelm Hertz Internet Archive
  12. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 194 f.
  13. Member History: Paul JL Heyse. American Philosophical Society, accessed September 29, 2018 .
  14. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , pp. 79 ff.
  15. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , pp. 32, 133.
  16. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , pp. 188 ff.
  17. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 171 ff.
  18. Paul Heyse, Hermann Kurz (Ed.): German Novell Treasure . tape 1 . Rudolph Oldenbourg, Munich, Introduction, p. V – XXIV, especially pp. XIX – XX ( digitized and full text in the German Text Archive - n.d. (1871)).
  19. spectacle Hans Lange at Google Books
  20. ^ Wilhelm Meinhold: Bogislaw der Große (X.), Duke of Pomerania, and the farmer Hans Lange , Romance in three departments, year of action 1474. In: O. LB Wolff: Enzyklopädie der Deutschen Nationalliteratur , 5th volume, Leipzig 1840, p . 218 ff.
  21. Hans-Wolf Jäger : A forensic tragedy: Paul Heyse . In: Jörg-Dieter Kogel (ed.): Writers in court. Persecuted literature for four centuries. Twenty essays . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-518-39028-7 , pp. 117-129.
  22. ^ Andreas Pöllinger: The censorship process around Paul Heyses drama "Maria von Magdala" (1901-1903). An example of theater censorship in Wilhelminian Prussia. Regensburg Contributions to German Linguistics and Literature Studies, Volume 44, Frankfurt / Main a. a. 1989, ISBN 978-3-631-42053-9 .
  23. ^ Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , p. 126 ff.
  24. ^ Gabriele Kroes-Tillmann, Paul Heyse Italianissimo. About his seals and re-seals , Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1993, passim.
  25. Cf. Norbert Miller, "In the shadow of Goethe. On Paul Heyse's position in 19th century literature", introduction to Sigrid von Moisy: Paul Heyse. Munich prince poet in the bourgeois era . Exhibition in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, January 23 to April 11, 1981. Beck, Munich 1981 (exhibition catalogs of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 23), ISBN 3-406-08077-4 , pp. 11–16.
  26. ^ The blind in the Gutenberg-DE project
  27. ^ Marion in the Gutenberg-DE project
  28. ^ L'Arrabbiata in the Gutenberg-DE project
  29. ^ On the banks of the Tiber in the Gutenberg-DE project
  30. Cf. “The 17 best novels by Paul Heyse” . In: Der Umblatter , March 15, 2011.