1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grimmelshausen, Hans Jakob Christoffel von

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GRIMMELSHAUSEN, HANS JAKOB CHRISTOFFEL VON (c. 1625-1676), German author, was born at Gelnhausen in or about 1625. At the age of ten he was kidnapped by Hessian soldiery, and in their midst tasted the adventures of military life in the Thirty Years' War. At its close, Grimmelshausen entered the service of Franz Egon von Fürstenberg, bishop of Strassburg and in 1665 was made Schultheiss (magistrate) at Renchen in Baden. On obtaining this appointment, he devoted himself to literary pursuits, and in 1669 published Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus, Teutsch, d.h. die Beschreibung des Lebens eines seltsamen Vaganten, genannt Melchior Sternfels von Fuchsheim, the greatest German novel of the 17th century. For this work he took as his model the picaresque romances of Spain, already to some extent known in Germany. Simplicissimus is in great measure its author's autobiography; he begins with the childhood of his hero, and describes the latter's adventures amid the stirring scenes of the Thirty Years' War. The realistic detail with which these pictures are presented makes the book one of the most valuable documents of its time. In the later parts Grimmelshausen, however, over-indulges in allegory, and finally loses himself in a Robinson Crusoe story. Among his other works the most important are the so-called Simplicianische Schriften: Die Erzbetrügerin und Landstörtzerin Courasche (c. 1669); Der seltsame Springinsfeld (1670) and Das wunderbarliche Vogelnest (1672). His satires, such as Der teutsche Michel (1670), and “gallant” novels, like Dietwald und Amelinde (1670) are of inferior interest. He died at Renchen on the 17th of August 1676, where a monument was erected to him in 1879.

Editions of Simplicissimus and the Simplicianische Schriften have been published by A. von Keller (1854), H. Kurz (1863-1864), J. Tittmann (1877) and F. Bobertag (1882). A reprint of the first edition of the novel was edited by R. Kögel for the series of Neudrucke des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (1880). See the introductions to these editions; also F. Antoine, Étude sur le Simplicissimus de Grimmelshausen (1882) and E. Schmidt in his Charakteristiken, vol. i. (1886).