The New International Encyclopædia/Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

KLOPSTOCK, klŏp'stōk, Friedrich Gottlieb (1724-1803). A German poet of great fame in the latter half of the eighteenth century, now hardly read or readable. He was born in Quedlinburg, July 2, 1724, and died in Hamburg, March 14, 1803. Educated at Quedlinburg and the famous school at Schulpforta, Klopstock went in 1745 to Jena to study theology, but left in 1746 for Leipzig, where he made the acquaintance of Gellert. Going then as private tutor to Langensalza, in 1748 he published the first three cantos of Der Messias, intended to be a Miltonic poem, and so won the attention of Bodmer, the translator of Milton, who invited him in 1750 to Zurich, whence he went in 1751 to Copenhagen by invitation of the Danish King. There he completed the Messias; but political changes brought him back to Germany in 1771, and he remained there, chiefly in Hamburg, till his death. Klopstock wrote also pietistic odes, an artificial Art of Poetry (Die Gelehrtenrepublik, 1744); Bardiete, antiquated in patriotism and obsolete in mythology, interspersed with unactable dramas of clumsy savagery (Hermannschlacht, 1769; Hermann und die Fürsten, 1784; and Hermanns Tod, 1787), all sentimental and overwrought. Though Klopstock's contributions to German thought and poetry were small, his enrichment of the poetic vocabulary and his attention to prosody were of great service to the poets that immediately followed him. Klopstock's Works were first collected in twelve volumes (Leipzig, 1798-1817). There is an English translation of the Messias that does fair justice to the nebulous earnestness of the original. Consult: Muncker, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Schriften (2d ed.. Berlin, 1900); Lyon, Ueber Klopstocks Verhältnis zu Goethe (Leipzig, 1879); and Lappenberg, Briefe von und an Klopstock (Brunswick, 1867).