The New International Encyclopædia/Schmidt, Julian

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SCHMIDT, Julian (1818-86). An eminent German historian of literature, born at Marienwerder, West Prussia. He studied history and philology at Königsberg, taught in Berlin from 1842 to 1846, and went to Leipzig in 1847 as contributor to the Grenzboten, which he owned and edited, conjointly with Gustav Freytag, from 1848 to 1861. Returning to Berlin, he conducted for two years the Berliner Allgemeine Zeitung, then confined himself to the field of literary history. His first work of importance was the Geschichte der Romantik im Zeitalter der Revolution und Restauration (1847). His numerous critical articles for the Grenzboten formed the basis for his Geschichte der deutschen Nationallitteratur im 19. Jahrhundert (1853); 5th ed., revised and enlarged, under the title Geschichte der deutschen Litteratur seit Lessings Tod (1865-67). Into this was subsequently incorporated his Geschichte des geistigen Leibniz in Deutschland von Leibniz bis auf Lessings Tod (1860-64), and both works appeared combined as Geschichte der deutschen Litteratur von Leibniz bis auf unsere Zeit (1880-90). Noteworthy are also Geschichte der französischen Litteratur seit der Revolution 1789 (2d ed. 1873-74); Uebersicht der englischen Litteratur im 19. Jahrhundert (1859); Schiller und seine Zeitgenossen (1859); and the collections of ingenious essays Bilder aus dem geistigen Leben unserer Zeit (1870-74), and Proträts aus dem 19. Jahrhundert (1878). Julian Schmidt exercised more influence upon the period of German intellectual life in which he worked than has been accorded him. As a critic in journals and periodicals, his discussions comprised the entire scope of intellectual life in science, arts, and politics. The forte of his criticism, especially in regard to works of art, lay in an almost infallible instinct to perceive truth, power, and sterling worth, which quality enabled him to teach his contemporaries not to borrow their views of things from remote chains of thought, but to trust the spontaneity of their own feelings.