1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hettner, Hermann Theodor

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HETTNER, HERMANN THEODOR (1821-1882), German literary historian and writer on the history of art, was born at Leisersdorf, near Goldberg, in Silesia, on the 12th of March 1821. At the universities of Berlin, Halle and Heidelberg he devoted himself chiefly to the study of philosophy, but in 1843 turned his attention to aesthetics, art and literature. With a view to furthering these studies, he spent three years in Italy, and, on his return, published a Vorschule zur bildenden Kunst der Alten (1848) and an essay on Die neapolitanischen Malerschulen. He became Privatdozent for aesthetics and the history of art at Heidelberg and, after the publication of his suggestive volume on Die romantische Schule in ihrem Zusammenhang mit Goethe und Schiller (1850), accepted a call as professor to Jena where he lectured on the history of both art and literature. In 1855 he was appointed director of the royal collections of antiquities and the museum of plaster casts at Dresden, to which posts were subsequently added that of director of the historical museum and a professorship at the royal Polytechnikum. He died in Dresden on the 29th of May 1882. Hettner's chief work is his Literaturgeschichte des 18ten Jahrhunderts, which appeared in three parts, devoted respectively to English, French and German literature, between 1856 and 1870 (5th ed. of I. and II., revised by A. Brandl and H. Morf, 1894; 4th of III., revised by O. Harnack, 1894). Although to some extent influenced by the political and literary theories of the Hegelian school, which, since Hettner's day have fallen into discredit, and at times losing sight of the main issues of literary development over questions of social evolution, this work belongs to the best histories that the 19th century produced. Hettner's judgment is sound and his point of view always original and stimulating. His other works include Griechische Reiseskizzen (1853), Das moderne Drama (1852) a book that arose from a correspondence with Gottfried Keller — Italienische Siudien (1879), and several works descriptive of the Dresden art collections. His Kleine Schriften were collected and published in 1884.

See A. Stern, Hermann Hettner, ein Lebensbild (1885); H. Spitzer, H. Hettners kunstphilosophische Anfänge und Literaturästhetik (1903).