Walter Widmer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karl Walter Widmer ( pseudonyms Urs Usenbenz and Aloysius Xavier Weintraub or AX Weintraub) (born April 3, 1903 in Basel , † June 18, 1965 in Riehen near Basel) was a Swiss high school teacher, literary critic and translator.


Widmer attended primary school and grammar school in Basel and graduated in 1922 with the Matura. He began studying art history at the University of Basel , but then turned to studying modern languages ​​with French as a major, Italian and German as minor subjects. In these subjects and in education he passed the secondary teacher examination in 1926. He then went to Paris for ten months to work on his dissertation. In 1929 he received his doctorate in Basel. In 1930 he started teaching and until 1962 worked as a French and German teacher at the Realgymnasium Basel . At the end of 1962, he took early retirement for health reasons.

Widmer was a part-time translator of French literature , which he said was the richest and most varied of literature in the world in terms of its density and diversity. He has translated almost all the great works of French literature and knew how to give each one a congenial German form. He succeeded in doing this, for example, even with such an original French text as François Rabelais ' Gargantua and Pantagruel . An example from the literature of the 20th century The green mare by Marcel Ayme .

Widmer has campaigned for German post-war literature since 1956. One of his first guests at the literary evenings he organized at the Realgymnasium Basel was Heinrich Böll , with whom he had a lifelong friendship ever since. Also Ilse Aichinger , Alfred Andersch , Hans Magnus Enzensberger , Gunter Grass , Wolfgang Hildesheimer , Walter Jens and Erich Kastner came to his initiative to Basel.

His son Urs Widmer (1938–2014) wrote a biographical novel about him that begins with the sentence: My father was a communist . The publisher selected a portrait of Walter Widmer by Heiri Strub from 1946 as the cover picture for the book, which appeared in 2004 . Strub illustrated many of Widmer's translations.


  • Professions for the unskilled . Teufen: Niggli 1963.
  • Mischief and mischief of translation. Objective-polemical considerations on a literary side track . Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 1959.
  • Popular comparisons in French based on the 'Rouge comme un coq' type. Basel: Zbinden & Hügin, 1929. Dissertation

Translations (selection)

- The Charterhouse of Parma . 1957. New edition. Zurich: Diogenes-Verl. 1992. ISBN 978-3-42302293-4
- About love . Munich: Winkler 1953.
- ballads .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Urs Widmer: The book of the father . Novel. Diogenes, Zurich 2004, p. 5