Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
Grimmelshausen in a 1641 portrait
Grimmelshausen in a 1641 portrait
Born 1621/22[1]
Gelnhausen, Holy Roman Empire
Died (1676-08-17)17 August 1676
Renchen, Holy Roman Empire
Occupation Writer
Language German
Notable works Simplicius Simplicissimus
Spouse Katharina Henninger

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1621/22[1] – 17 August 1676) was a German author.

Early life[edit]

Grimmelshausen was born at Gelnhausen. At the age of ten he was kidnapped by Hessian soldiery, and in their midst experienced military life in the Thirty Years' War. At the close of the war, Grimmelshausen entered the service of Franz Egon von Fürstenberg, bishop of Strassburg (Strasbourg). In 1665, he was made Schultheiss (magistrate) at Renchen in Baden. On obtaining this appointment, he devoted himself to literary pursuits.


Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus. 1

Grimmelshausen's work is greatly influenced by previous utopian and travel literature, and the Simplicissimus series attained a readership larger than any other seventeenth-century novel. Formerly, he was credited with Der fliegende Wandersmann nach dem Mond, a translation from Jean Baudoin's L'Homme dans la Lune, itself a translation of Francis Godwin's The Man in the Moone,[2] but recent scholars have denied this; he did, however, write an appendix to a 1667 edition of that translation, the basis for that association. Der fliegende Wandersman was included in his collected works, though without the appendix.[3]

In 1668, Grimmelshausen published Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch, d.h. die Beschreibung des Lebens eines seltsamen Vaganten, genannt Melchior Sternfels von Fuchsheim, which has been called the greatest German novel of the 17th century.[4] For this work he took as his model the picaresque romances of Spain, already to some extent known in Germany. Simplicissimus has been interpreted as 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 rustic detail with which these pictures are presented makes the book a valuable document of its time. For some, however, the later parts of the book overindulge in allegory, and finally become a Robinson Crusoe story.

The historian Robert Ergang draws upon Gustav Könnecke's Quellen und Forschungen zur Lebensgeschichte Grimmelshausens to assert that "the events related in the novel Simplicissimus could hardly have been autobiographical since [Grimmelshausen] lived a peaceful existence in quiet towns and villages on the fringe of the Black Forest and that the material he incorporated in his work was not taken from actual experience, but was either borrowed from the past, collected from hearsay, or created by a vivid imagination."[5]

Among Grimmelshausen's other works, are the so-called Simplicianische Schriften:

  • Die Ertzbetrügerin and Landstörtzerin Courasche (1669)
  • Der seltsame Springinsfeld (1670)
  • Das wunderbarliche Vogelnest (1672)

He also published satires, such as Der teutsche Michel (1670), and gallant novels, like Dietwald und Amelinde (1670).

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in Renchen, where a monument was erected to him in 1679.

Grimmelshausen's Landstörtzerin Courasche became an inspiration for Bertolt Brecht's play Mother Courage and Her Children.[6][7]

Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus inspired Simplicissimus, a satirical German weekly. Simplicissimus is also a name used to refer to Grimmelshausen's novel or its protagonist.


  1. ^ a b Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen – Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. ^ Hennig, John (1945). "Simplicius Simplicissimus's British Relations". Modern Language Review. 40 (1): 37–45. doi:10.2307/3717748. JSTOR 3717748. 
  3. ^ Bürger, Thomas; Schmidt-Glintzer, Helwig (1993), Der Fliegende Wandersmann nach dem Mond: Faksimiledruck der deutschen Übersetzung (in German), Wolfenbüttel: Herzog August Bibliothek, ISBN 978-3-88373-074-5 
  4. ^ Moore, Steven (2013). Novel: An Alternative History, 1600–1800. New York: Bloomsbury. p. 61. ISBN 144118869X. 
  5. ^ Robert Ergang, The Myth of the All-Destructive Fury of the Thirty Years' War (Pocono Pines: The Craftsmen, 1956), 7.
  6. ^ Harold Bloom (2009). Bertolt Brecht: Comprehensive Research and Study Guide. Infobase Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4381-1639-6. 
  7. ^ G. Ronald Murphy (2010). Gemstone of Paradise: The Holy Grail in Wolfram's Parzival. Oxford University Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-19-974759-7. 


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