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- Simplicissimus is also a name for the 1668 novel Simplicius Simplicissimus and its protagonist.
Simplicissimus was a satirical German weekly magazine started by Albert Langen in April 1896 and published until 1967, with a hiatus from 1944-1954. It became a biweekly in 1964. It took its name from the protagonist of Grimmelshausen's 1668 novel Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch.
Combining brash and politically daring content, with a bright, immediate, and surprisingly modern graphic style, Simplicissimus published the work of writers such as Thomas Mann and Rainer Maria Rilke. Its most reliable targets for caricature were stiff Prussian military figures, and rigid German social and class distinctions as seen from the more relaxed, liberal atmosphere of Munich. Contributors included Hermann Hesse, Gustav Meyrink, Fanny zu Reventlow, Jakob Wassermann, Frank Wedekind, Heinrich Kley, Alfred Kubin, Otto Nückel, Robert Walser, Heinrich Zille, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Heinrich Mann and Erich Kästner.
In 1898 Kaiser Wilhelm's objections to being ridiculed on the cover resulted in the magazine being suppressed. Langen, the publisher, spent five years' exile in Switzerland and was fined 30,000 German gold marks. A six-month prison sentence was given to the cartoonist Heine, and seven months to the writer Frank Wedekind. Again in 1906 the editor Ludwig Thoma was imprisoned for six months for attacking the clergy. These controversies only served to increase circulation, which peaked at about 85,000 copies. Upon Germany's entry into World War I, the weekly dulled its satirical tone, began supporting the war effort and considered closing down. Thereafter, the strongest political satire expressed in graphics became the province of artists George Grosz and Käthe Kollwitz (who were both contributors) and John Heartfield.
The editor Ludwig Thoma joined the army in a medical unit in 1917, and lost his taste for satire, denouncing his previous work at the magazine, calling it immature and deplorable. He left the magazine in the 1920s.
During the Weimar era the magazine continued to publish and took a strong stand against extremists on the left and on the right. As the National Socialists gradually came to power, they issued verbal accusations, attacks, threats and personal intimidation against the artists and writers of Simplicissimus, but they did not ban it. The editor Thomas Theodor Heine, a Jew, was forced to resign and went into exile. Other members of the team, including Karl Arnold, Olaf Gulbransson, Edward Thöny, Erich Schilling and Wilhelm Schulz remained and toed the Nazi party line, for which they were rewarded by the Nazis. It continued publishing, in declining form, until finally ceasing publication in 1944. It was revived from 1954-1967.
- Harvard University Library Catalog, Hollis number 006013229.
- Klaus Mann: Der Simplicissimus. In: Das Neue Tagebuch, V. Jahrgang 1937, p. 214 (in German)
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