1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gottschall, Rudolf von

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GOTTSCHALL, RUDOLF VON (1823-1909), German man of letters, was born at Breslau on the 30th of September 1823, the son of a Prussian artillery officer. He received his early education at the gymnasia in Mainz and Coburg, and subsequently at Rastenburg in East Prussia. In 1841 he entered the university of Königsberg as a student of law, but, in consequence of his pronounced liberal opinions, was expelled. The academic authorities at Breslau and Leipzig were not more tolerant towards the young fire-eater, and it was only in Berlin that he eventually found himself free to prosecute his studies. During this period of unrest he issued Lieder der Gegenwart (1842) and Zensurflüchtlinge (1843) — the poetical fruits of his political enthusiasm. He completed his studies in Berlin, took the degree of doctor juris in Königsberg, and endeavoured to obtain there the venia legendi. His political views again stood in the way, and forsaking the legal career, Gottschall now devoted himself entirely to literature. He met with immediate success, and beginning as dramaturge in Königsberg with Der Blinde von Alcala (1846) and Lord Byron in Italien (1847) proceeded to Hamburg where he occupied a similar position. In 1852 he married Marie, baroness von Seherr-Thoss, and for the next few years lived in Silesia. In 1862 he took over the editorship of a Posen newspaper, but in 1864 removed to Leipzig. Gottschall was raised, in 1877, by the king of Prussia to the hereditary nobility with the prefix “von,” having been previously made a Geheimer Hofrat by the grand duke of Weimar. Down to 1887 Gottschall edited the Brockhaus'sche Blätter für litterarische Unterhaltung and the monthly periodical Unsere Zeit. He died at Leipzig on the 21st of March 1909.

Gottschall's prolific literary productions cover the fields of poetry, novel-writing and literary criticism. Among his volumes of lyric poetry are Sebastopol (1856), Janus (1873), Bunte Blüten (1891). Among his epics, Carlo Zeno (1854), Maja (1864), dealing with an episode in the Indian Mutiny, and Merlins Wanderungen (1887). The comedy Pitt und Fox (1854), first produced on the stage in Breslau, was never surpassed by the other lighter pieces of the author, among which may be mentioned Die Welt des Schwindels and Der Spion von Rheinsberg. The tragedies, Mazeppa, Catharine Howard, Amy Robsart and Der Götze von Venedig, were very successful; and the historical novels, Im Banne des schwarzen Adlers (1875; 4th ed., 1884), Die Erbschaft des Blutes (1881), Die Tochter Rübezahls (1889), and Verkümmerte Existenzen (1892), enjoyed a high degree of popularity. As a critic and historian of literature Gottschall has also done excellent work. His Die deutsche Nationalliteratur des 19. Jahrhunderts (1855; 7th ed., 1901-1902), and Poetik (1858; 6th ed., 1903) command the respect of all students of literature.

Gottschall's collected Dramatische Werke appeared in 12 vols. in 1880 (2nd ed., 1884); he has also, in recent years, published many volumes of collected essays and criticisms. See his autobiography, Aus meiner Jugend (1898).