Home of Echoworld Communications

To Echo Germanica Homepage
March 200
3 - Nr. 3


The Editor
Vorsicht Satire!
Elizabeth Kuehn
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Ball Austria 2003
Echo-Lines 2
Herwig Wandschneider
Those Crazy Germans
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
SOS Villages
German-Russian Arts
Mozart im Sudan
Old Masters Collection
Berlin's New Landmark
New Luther Exhibition
Steinway Anniversary
Praise for BMW
Poet Klopstock Celebration
Einen Guten Klang
Lack of Education
Computer As Boss
Int'l Book Club
Humbolt's Mexican Trip

Hamburg Remembers Poet
Who Championed Liberty

  TWIG - He was feted as a hero during his lifetime. Some 25,000 admirers took part in his funeral when he died. He inspired Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and paved the way to the Sturm und Drang. Tastes change, and few Germans today are familiar with the work of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, the master poet who died 200 years ago on Friday (March 14). But without him, critics say, German literary history might not have been the same.

Best known for his Biblical epic Messias (The Messiah), written between 1748 and 1773, Klopstock was widely regarded as the first great poet with a distinctively German voice. He was born in Quedlinburg in 1724 and studied theology in Leipzig. There he wrote the first verses of a monumental work telling the story of Christ’s passion in hexameter, the classical epic form. Appearing in the mid-18th century, when Enlightenment authors were singing the praises of reason, the emotion-drenched Messias created a major sensation. The author also won acclaim at an early age for his rhapsodic Odes, many of which paid tribute to Meta Moller, a Hamburg merchant’s daughter who became his wife in 1754.

Klopstock spent some 30 years of his life in Hamburg, and his literary estate - including around 2,000 manuscripts - belongs to the Hamburg University library. The publication of a complete edition of his works has been under way since 1962. So far 31 volumes have been published by the Berlin house Walter de Gruyter. "We want to be finished with the edition by 2009; it will comprise 40 volumes," says lead editor Klaus Hurlebusch. On display at the library from March 15 to May 4 is an exhibit showing the complex steps involved in the project, from deciphering the author’s handwriting to printing and binding the books.

"His language isn’t even easy for literary experts, and Klopstock themes such as fatherland, nature and the love of God aren’t in fashion any more," notes Hurlebusch. But Klopstock was more than the exalted author of the Messias - he was also one of the most striking political poets of his time. Though he enjoyed the patronage of the king of Denmark, he rejected the role of "court poet," championing intellectual freedom and seeking to raise the status of writers to a new plane. He was also one of the first public figures in Germany to embrace the French Revolution.

For that independent spirit he won admiration not only from Goethe but an entire generation of writers, from Friedrich von Schiller to Friedrich Hölderlin. German explorer Wilhelm von Humboldt and British naval hero Lord Nelson visited his parlor, and his fight for artistic freedom still brings pilgrims to his Hamburg grave.


To Top of Page

Send mail to webmaster@echoworld.com  with questions or comments about this web site.
For information about Echoworld Communications and its services send mail to info@echoworld.com .

Copyright ©2010 Echoworld Communications