The New International Encyclopædia/Keller, Gottfried

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KELLER, Gottfried (1819-90). A Swiss novelist and poet, remarkable for his blending of the humorous and the tragic, the realistic and the romantic. After a vain attempt to become a painter at Munich (1840-42), he returned to his native Zurich and devoted himself to literature. From 1848 to 1854 he lived chiefly at Heidelberg and Berlin, and in the latter year was made First State Secretary (Staatsschreiber) of Canton Zurich, a post which he resigned in 1876. He died at Zurich in 1890. His first volumes were poetry: Gedichte (Heidelberg, 1846) and Neue Gedichte (Brunswick, 1851). His poems were collected in 1883 (10th ed., 2 vols., Berlin, 1895). By far his most significant work is the autobiographical romance Der grüne Heinrich (1854; much altered for the better in a revision of 1879; 16th ed. 1897). Die Leute von Seldwyla (1856: 2d part 1876) is marked by the poetic faithfulness of its delineation of Swiss peasant character. Of its short stories, “Romeo und Julie auf dem Dorfe” and “Der Schmied seines Glücks” are among the most finished in German literature. Keller published a volume of Sieben Legenden (1872; 4th ed. 1887); two volumes of Züricher Novellen (1876; 18th ed. 1896); and other tales in Das Sinngedicht (1883; 10th ed. 1901). A satirical novel, Martin Salander (1886), was his last work. Consult: Brahm, Gottfried Keller (Berlin, 1883); Vischer, Altes und Neues, vol. ii. (Stuttgart, 1889); and Köster, Gottfried Keller (Leipzig, 1900). Keller's Gesammelte Werke appeared in ten volumes (new ed., Berlin, 1900 et .seq.), and selections from them have been translated into English, with a memoir, by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker (London, 1891).