Wilhelm Raabe

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Portrait of the 57-year-old Wilhelm Raabe (from the gazebo 1888 )
Signature Wilhelm Raabe.JPG

Wilhelm Karl Raabe ( pseudonym : Jakob Corvinus ; born September 8, 1831 in Eschershausen ; † November 15, 1910 in Braunschweig ) was a German writer ( narrator ). He was a representative of poetic realism , known for his socially critical stories , short stories and novels . Raabe lived for several years in Wolfenbüttel (six of them as a writer), eight years in Stuttgart and almost 40 years in Braunschweig.


Wilhelm Raabe's birthplace in Eschershausen , now a museum

Wilhelm Raabe was born as the son of the judicial officer Gustav Karl Maximilian Raabe (1800–1845) and his wife Auguste Johanne Frederike Jeep (1807–1874) in the small town of Eschershausen in the Weser Uplands. He spent childhood and school in Holzminden and Stadtoldendorf . After the death of her father, the widow moved with Wilhelm and his two siblings to Wolfenbüttel , where their relatives belonged to the upper class .

After dropping out of school and an apprenticeship as a bookseller in Magdeburg , which was also broken off in 1853 , Raabe tried in vain in Wolfenbüttel to catch up on his Abitur . In Berlin he studied philology as a guest student at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, today's Humboldt-Universität , which, as a citizen's son, was possible even without a high school diploma. During this time he wrote his first novel Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse , which he published under the pseudonym "Jacob Corvinus" ( corvinus is Latin for "raven-like") and which, according to him, was his greatest literary success - and, according to tradition, also his greatest economic success Success.

On July 24, 1862 Wilhelm Raabe married Berta Emilie Wilhelmine Leiste, the daughter of the Higher Appeal Court procurator Christoph Ludwig Leiste from Wolfenbüttel (son of Christian Leiste ) and his wife Johanne Sophie Caroline Berta Heyden. The marriage resulted in four daughters: Margarethe (* September 17, 1863 in Stuttgart; † March 17, 1947 in Wolfenbüttel), Elisabeth (* 1868 in Stuttgart), Klara (* 1872 in Braunschweig) and Gertrud (* 1876 in Braunschweig) .

In the almost fifty years between November 15, 1854, the "spring date" when he began to write Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse (published at the end of September 1856, predated to 1857), and the novel Altershausen , which was broken off as a fragment in 1902, Raabe did not write fewer than 68 novels, short stories and short stories, plus a small number of poems. Since Raabe lived exclusively from his income as a freelance writer , he was forced to this high productivity. The spectrum of his work ranges from great, realistic novels and masterful short stories to everyday entertainment literature . No other of his books achieved the popularity of his first work, but they too found a large readership.

Raabe (bottom row on the left) at the “ clothing sellers ” on September 21, 1890
Photo from the year of death in 1910

On December 15, 1870, Raabe, mediated by Ludwig Hänselmann , became a member of the regulars' table of the honest clothing sellers in Braunschweig . In 1883 he became a member of another regulars' table called Feuchter Brush , which brought together various artists and art enthusiasts in the city.

In the 1890s, some of Raabe's works received more attention. During this upswing, he was also publicly honored several times, although he already considered himself a "deceased writer" ("former writer"). He conducted an extensive correspondence with the literary critic Sigmund Schott , who also discussed many of Raabe's works in the press. In the last eight years of his life he stopped his writing and went on several trips.

Raabe died on the day of his author's jubilee, 56 years after the "spring appointment day". The memorial speech at the funeral was given by the writer Wilhelm Brandes , a friend and confidante of Raabe and his biographer, who in 1911 founded the Society of Friends of Wilhelm Raabe together with several Brunswick dignitaries .

Wilhelm Raabe's own picture of life

Wilhelm Raabe declined the request for an autobiography , but in 1906 he wrote a small biographical sketch :

“I was born on September 8, 1831 in Eschershausen in the Duchy of Braunschweig . My father was the 'actuary' at the local court at the time, Gustav Karl Maximilian Raabe, and my mother Auguste Johanne Frederike Jeep, the daughter of the former city treasurer Jeep zu Holzminden . It was my mother who taught me to read from the Robinson Crusoe of our old compatriot from Deensen , Joachim Heinrich Campe . Whatever science I acquired afterwards at elementary and middle schools, grammar schools and at the university, everything is attached to the dear, delicate finger that pointed to me around the year 1836 the point above the i.

In 1845 my father died as a judicial officer in Stadtoldendorf and his widow and her three children moved to Wolfenbüttel, where I attended grammar school until 1849. How afterwards our Lord's office, the brave city of Magdeburg, saved me from becoming a mediocre lawyer, schoolmaster, doctor or even pastor, I consider a providence for which I cannot be grateful enough.

At Easter 1854, after a year of serious preparation, I went to Berlin to bring myself a little more order in the world of things and affairs 'at universities', as far as such a young person can overlook them. In November of the same year I began to write the 'Chronicle of Sperlingsgasse' there in the Spreegasse and completed it the following spring. At the end of September 1856, the book saw the light of day when it was printed and, besides the 'hunger pastor' in the earthly household, still helps me to live most of all. Because I have found 'readers' for the writings of my first creative period, which extends up to the last-mentioned book, for the rest only 'lovers', but with them, I believe, of course the most distinguished audience that the German people currently has to offer . "

Artistic creation


Wilhelm Raabe (portrait of Wilhelm Immenkamp, ​​1909)

Raabe observed the irreparable cracks between old and new, between security and technical industrialization , which grew and deepened at the expense of nature and the culture of the mind. One of the first environmental novels is his work Pfister's mill , in which he attributes the decline of an idyllic restaurant to the water pollution from a nearby sugar beet factory. Ultimately, the bar had to give way to a new factory. So Raabe saw the dark side of progress, of existence in general, and assumed the attitude of a pessimist . For this situation he recommended: Look up to the stars. Be careful of the alley. ( The people from the forest ) . Raabe's humor is also rooted in this basic trait. Raabe was not a person of idyll , although he was often read or interpreted in this way, but rather remained a staunch critic of his time.

Raabe deals with parts of German history in his complete works , especially the wars. He succeeds in making his works lively and exciting by introducing real characters and their fates. He maintains an observing distance through artifice of narrative perspective and style .

Many considerations and digressions - including the abundance of quotations from antiquity to contemporary vernacular, which was still inconspicuous at the time - make reading Raabe's works difficult today. To a cursory reading it sometimes seems as if his texts had an inadequate structure and occasionally were missing important connections, but these were precisely what he worked out with great care and delicacy. The evaluations of Raabe's poems have shifted since his lifetime. He himself judged very harshly about some of his early works, some of which he called "youth quark". While the so-called "Stuttgart Trilogy" ( Der Hungerpastor , Abu Telfan , Der Schüdderump ) used to be the main work, today preference is given to other stories and novels (including Stopfkuchen , Horacker , Das Odfeld , Hastenbeck , Die Akten des Vogelsangs ).

Wilhelm Raabe: peasant cottages in a heather landscape

Draftsman and painter

Wilhelm Raabe had another, less well-known talent, that of painting. He left behind more than 550 watercolors and drawings, most of which are now in the possession of the city of Braunschweig and are kept by the city archive there; Some sheets and sketches remain in the private ownership of the descendants. The landscape painting Bauernkaten in a heathland is an oil painting in the dimensions 37 × 23 cm.

Awards and honors

Postage stamp of the German Federal Post Office (1981)
Sign for the Raabe hiking trail near Eschershausen

Awards during his lifetime

  • 1886 honorary gift and later lifelong honorary salary from the Schiller Foundation
  • 1899 Order of Merit of the Principality of Bavaria
  • 1901 honorary doctorate from the Universities of Göttingen and Tübingen
  • 1901 honorary citizen of the city of Braunschweig and the city of Eschershausen
  • 1901 Order of Merit of the Princely Houses of Baden, Braunschweig, Prussia, Saxe-Weimar, Württemberg
  • 1902 Naming of Raabestrasse in what would later become the Prenzlauer Berg administrative district of Greater Berlin
  • 1910 honorary doctorate from the University of Berlin

Posthumous honors

For Wilhelm Raabe as namesake for schools see Wilhelm Raabe School and Gymnasium Raabeschule .

Raabe houses

Wilhelm Raabe's birthplace is now a museum, the Raabe House in Eschershausen .

The Raabe house in Braunschweig is the building in which Raabe lived with his family from 1901 until his death in 1910. There is an exhibition and a Raabe research center here.

The Raabe House in Braunschweig


Total expenditure

  • Complete Works. Series 1, Volumes 1-6; Series 2, volume 1-6, series 3, volume 1-6, Klemm, Berlin-Grunewald [1913-1916].
  • Complete Works. Braunschweig edition. Edited by Karl Hoppe / On behalf of the Braunschweigische Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft after the death of Karl Hoppe obtained by Jost Schillemeit , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1966–1994 - 26 volumes digitized .

Individual works

The "Raabe-Diele" restaurant in Berlin's Sperlingsgasse (1955)
Wilhelm Raabe

More texts

  • "In alls patient." Letters from Wilhelm Raabe. Edited by Wilhelm Fehse . Grote Verlag, Berlin, 1940.
  • "Bell sound: 50 timeless poems. Edited by Martin Werhand . Martin Werhand Verlag, Melsbach, 2017.


Sorted alphabetically according to the surname of the authors and (subordinate criterion) year of publication:

  • Günter Cremer: The Odfeld as will and idea. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society. 1998.
  • Günter Cremer: God or Satan. Negated message of salvation and nihilism in Raabe's story "Else von der Tanne". In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society. 2000.
  • Ralf Georg CzaplaRaabe, Wilhelm Karl. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4 , pp. 55-58 ( digitized version ).
  • Giesbert Damaschke : Wilhelm Raabe. "Krähenfelder Stories". Lang, Bern a. a. 1990. (= Narratio; 3) ISBN 3-261-04204-4 .
  • Horst Denkler : News about Wilhelm Raabe. 10 approaches to a misunderstood writer. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1988. (= investigations into the history of German literature; 46) ISBN 3-484-32046-X .
  • Horst Denkler: Wilhelm Raabe. Legend - life - literature. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1989, ISBN 3-484-10644-1 .
  • Ulf Eisele: The poet and his detective. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1979, ISBN 3-484-10328-0 .
  • Søren R. Fauth: Wilhelm Raabe's “The Odfeld” and Schopenhauer's Metaphysics. Another chapter on the transtextuality of Raabe's narrative. Text & Context 1998.
  • Søren R. Fauth: Schopenhauer's philosophy as the dominant hypotext in Raabe's story “ Höxter and Corvey ”. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society. 2001.
  • Søren R. Fauth: Transcendent Fatalism. Wilhelm Raabe's story “To the wild man” in the horizon of Schopenhauer and Goethe. In: German quarterly for literature and intellectual history 2004.
  • Søren R. Fauth: The metaphysical realist. To the Schopenhauer reception in Wilhelm Raabe's late work. Wallstein, Göttingen 2007. ISBN 978-3-8353-0214-3 .
  • Søren R. Fauth, Rolf Parr and Eberhard Rohse (eds.): “The best bites of the cake.” Wilhelm Raabe's narrative. Contexts, subtexts, connections. Wallstein, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-8353-0544-1 .
  • Wilhelm Fehse : Wilhelm Raabe. His life and his works. Vieweg-Verlag, Braunschweig, 1937.
  • Wilhelm Fehse: In alls patiently - letters by Wilhelm Raabe , G. Grote'sche Verlagbuchhandlung , Berlin 1940. Printed by Poeschel & Trepte, Leipzig.
  • Karl Fricker: Wilhelm Raabe's years in Stuttgart as reflected in his poetry. Stuttgart 1939.
  • Werner Fuld : Wilhelm Raabe. A biography. (Unabridged edition.) Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2006, 382 pages, ISBN 3-423-34324-9 .
  • Paul Gerber: Wilhelm Raabe. An appreciation of his poetry. Leipzig 1897 online  - Internet Archive
  • Wolfgang Giegerich: The prodigal son. On the origin of poetry by Wilhelm Raabe. Verlag Die Blaue Eule, Essen 1987. (= Wilhelm Raabe Studies; 3) ISBN 3-89206-178-5 .
  • Rüdiger Görner : Wilhelm Raabe - master stories. ISBN 3-7175-1924-7 .
  • Dirk Göttsche: Time reflection and time criticism in the work of Wilhelm Raabe. Königshausen u. Neumann, Würzburg 2000, ISBN 3-8260-1859-1 .
  • Siegfried Hajek: Man and the world in the work of Wilhelm Raabe. Warendorf / Westf .: Fast 1950.
  • Ingeborg Hampl: "Grenzfalls": Family and social structures in Wilhelm Raabe's narrative work. Passau: Wiss.-Verl. Rothe 1995. (= Passau writings on language and literature; 8) ISBN 3-927575-47-X .
  • Gabriele Henkel (Ed.): Wilhelm Raabe. The graphic work. Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-487-14332-3 .
  • Friedhelm Henrich: Wilhelm Raabe and German unity. The diary documents for the years 1860–1863. Munich: Fink 1998. ISBN 3-7705-3284-8 .
  • Kurt Hoffmeister : With ink, pen and paper. Everyday life as a poet in Braunschweig. Wilhelm Raabe's time in Braunschweig from 1870 to 1910 according to diary entries and letters. Wolfenbüttel: Heckner 1999. ISBN 3-449-00909-5 .
  • Kurt Hoffmeister: Wilhelm Raabe - writer in Wolfenbüttel. Braunschweig 2000. ISBN 3-449-91000-0 .
  • Karl Hoppe: Wilhelm Raabe as a draftsman. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1960.
  • Otto Huth : Raabe and Tieck. Essen: Verl. Die Blaue Eule 1985. (= Wilhelm Raabe studies; 1) ISBN 3-924368-30-9 .
  • Nathali Jückstock-Kießling: I-tell. Notes on Wilhelm Raabe's realism. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht 2004. (= Palaestra; 318) ISBN 3-525-20592-9 : Digitized 340 pp.
  • Arpad Klein: Attempt to interpret Wilhelm Raabe's work. Braunschweig: Pp-Verl. 1983. (= Raabe research; 3) ISBN 3-88712-014-0 .
  • Hans Kolbe: Wilhelm Raabe. From development to disillusionment novel. Berlin: Akademie-Verl. 1981.
  • Ulrike Koller: Wilhelm Raabe's publisher relations. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht 1994. ISBN 3-525-20570-8 .
  • Thomas Krueger: Wilhelm Raabe in the Weserbergland. A literary and photographic search for traces. Verlag Jörg Mitzkat, Holzminden 2011 (= series of images and texts from southern Lower Saxony of the Landschaftsverband Südniedersachsen eV). ISBN 978-3-940751-44-7 .
  • Leo A. Lensing / Hans-Werner Peter (eds.): Wilhelm Raabe. Studies of his life and work. On the occasion of the 150th birthday (1831–1981). Pp-Verlag, Braunschweig 1981.
  • Wilhelm Raabe: Saint Thomas. A story. With an afterword, edited by Florian Krobb. Wehrhahn, Hannover 2007, ISBN 978-3-86525-303-3 .
  • Wilhelm Raabe: Else from the fir tree. With an afterword by Rudolf Wolff. Publishing house literary tradition. ISBN 978-3-86672-050-3 .
  • Eberhard Rohse : Raabe and the young Brecht. On the reception of early historical stories by Wilhelm Raabe in Bertolt Brecht's high school one-act play “The Bible”. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society 1978. ISSN 0075-2371, pp. 17-62.
  • Eberhard Rohse: “Transcendental Human Studies” under the sign of the ape. Raabe's literary responses to the Darwinism debate of the 19th century. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society 1988, pp. 168-210, ISSN  0075-2371 .
  • Eberhard Rohse: How Raabe formed death. On the iconography of temporality and death in later texts and drawings by Wilhelm Raabe. In: Herbert Blume (Ed.): By Wilhelm Raabe and others. Lectures from the Braunschweig Raabe House. Bielefeld: Verlag für Regionalgeschichte 2001 (= Braunschweiger contributions to the German language and literature; 5). ISBN 3-89534-354-4 .
  • Eberhard Rohse: Raabe and Ibsen. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society 2008. ISBN 978-3-484-33908-8 .
  • Eberhard Rohse: Paleontological comfort at the Sinflutort. Natural history and the Bible in and around Raabe's "Stopfkuchen" . In: Sören R. Fauth, Rolf Parr and Eberhard Rohse (eds.): "The best bites of the cake". Wilhelm Raabe's narrative: contexts, subtexts, connections. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2009, pp. 63–116, ISBN 978-3-8353-0544-1
  • Eberhard Rohse: Image as text - text as image. Image quotations in narrative texts by Wilhelm Raabe. In: Wilhelm Raabe. The graphic work. Edited by Gabriele Henkel. Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2010, pp. 93–125. ISBN 978-3-487-14332-3 .
  • Rosemarie Schillemeit: Antiques in the work of Wilhelm Raabe and other contributions to Raabe philology. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht 1997. ISBN 3-525-20776-X .
  • Hans-Jürgen Schrader: Wilhelm Raabe. Studies on his advanced, realistic storytelling. Göttingen: Wallstein 2018. ISBN 978-3-8353-3224-9
  • Wilhelm Scholz : Fifteen years with Wilhelm Raabe. A contribution to the characteristics of the poet. Braunschweig 1912.
  • Sigrid Thielking (ed.): Raabe reports. Literary studies and literary didactic approaches to the work of Wilhelm Raabe. DUV, Wiesbaden 2002, ISBN 3-8244-4476-3 .
  • Sigmund Schott: On Wilhelm Raabe's 60th birthday. In: National newspaper. Berlin No. 15 of September 8, 1891.
  • Sigmund Schott: A commemorative publication for Wilhelm Raabe's 70th birthday. In: Supplement to Allgemeine Zeitung , Munich 1901, September 3, 1901.
  • Sigmund Schott: On Wilhelm Raabe's 70th birthday. In: National newspaper . Berlin, September 9, 1901, No. 505.
  • Uwe Vormweg: Wilhelm Raabe. The historical novels and stories. Igel-Verl. Wiss., Paderborn 1993. (= Series Literature and Media Studies; 16) ISBN 3-927104-37-X .
  • Christoph Zeller: Allegories of storytelling. Wilhelm Raabe's Jean-Paul reading. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1999, ISBN 3-476-45218-2 .

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Raabe  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Raabe  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Stiebert: On the rediscovery of a great narrator. In: Sunday. No. 37 of September 10, 2006, p. 11.
  2. Gerd Biegel : Braunschweig's most important poet. Wilhelm Raabe was a writer and honorary citizen ( memento from September 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) on newsclick.de
  3. Information in buecher-wiki.de
  4. Whitaker's Words: corvinus
  5. ^ Unprinted letters from Wilhelm Raabe to Sigmund Schott. Communicated by Constantin Bauer. In: Communications from the Raabe Society. 38th year, Braunschweig 1951, issue 2, pp. 14-21. Schott wrote 112 received letters to Raabe from 1880 to 1909.
  6. Hans-Werner Peter: Wilhelm Raabe - The poet in his pen drawings and sketches. Rosenheim rarities.
  7. ^ Friedhelm Henrich: A late oil painting by Wilhelm Raabe. In: Yearbook of the Raabe Society. 1990, p. 74.
  8. Hans-G. Hilscher, Dietrich Bleihöfer: Wilhelm-Raabe-Weg. In: Kiel Street Lexicon. Continued since 2005 by the Office for Building Regulations, Surveying and Geoinformation of the State Capital Kiel, as of February 2017 ( kiel.de ).
  9. ^ Wilhelm Raabe , Glockenklang: 50 timeless poems in WorldCat 2017
  10. ^ Wilhelm Raabe: Glockenklang - 50 timeless poems . in WDR , March 16, 2018