Peter Härtling

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Peter Härtling
Peter Härtling 2013.JPG
Härtling in 2013
Born(1933-11-13)13 November 1933
Chemnitz, Germany
Died10 July 2017(2017-07-10) (aged 83)
OccupationWriter, poet
Signature of Peter Haertling.jpg

Peter Härtling (German: [ˈpeːtɐ ˈhɛʁtlɪŋ] (About this soundlisten); 13 November 1933 – 10 July 2017) was a German writer, poet, publisher and journalist. He received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his major contribution to German literature.[1]


Härtling was born in Chemnitz,[2] and spent the early part of his childhood living in Hartmannsdorf, Mittweida, where his father maintained a law firm.[1] Following the outbreak of World War II, the family moved to the German-occupied town of Olomouc in Moravia.[1][2] Like many of the town's German residents, Härtling's family fled before the Red Army's advance on the city during the final months of the war; the family briefly settled in Zwettl, Austria.[1] Härtling's father was captured by the Russians, and died in June 1945 at the prisoner-of-war camp in Dollersheim.[1] Following the conclusion of World War II, Härtling finally settled in Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg.[1][2] His mother committed suicide in October 1946.[1] He studied under HAP Grieshaber at the Bernsteinschule art school, before starting work as a journalist.[2]

Härtling had his first collection of poetry published in 1953.[1][2] From 1967 to 1973, Härtling was the managing director of the German publishing house S. Fischer Verlag, located in Frankfurt.[2] Härtling became a full-time writer after leaving S. Fischer Verlag.[2] In the winter semester of 1983/84, he hosted the annual Frankfurter Poetik-Vorlesungen, a lecture series, in which a prominent writer discourses on topics pertaining to their work.[3] Härtling used his lectureship to demonstrate the process of using a found object as the inspiration for a literary work. During the series of lectures, he wrote Der spanische Soldat, a short story based on a photograph by Robert Capa.[4]

Härtling worked as the editor of the magazine Der Monat, and as the president of the Hölderlin society.[1] In 1973 he moved to Mörfelden-Walldorf where he lived until his death on 10 July 2017.[5]

Literary themes[edit]

Härtling devoted a large proportion of his literary output – both in poetry, and in prose – to the reclamation of history, and his own past.[6][7] His autobiographical novel, Zwettl (1973), deals with the period he spent living in Lower Austria, after his family fled from the Red Army.[8] Nachgetragene Liebe (1980) recounts Härtling's earliest memories of his deceased father.[9]

Another major influence on Härtling's works has been the literature and music of Romanticism.[10] Amongst other works, Härtling has written fictionalised biographical works on the writers Friedrich Hölderlin,[7] Wilhelm Waiblinger[7] and E. T. A. Hoffmann,[11] and the composers Franz Schubert,[7] and Robert Schumann.[12]

Children's literature[edit]

In 1969, after writing a eulogy for the Czech children's writer Jan Procházka, Härtling began writing books for children. His first children's book, Und das ist die ganze Familie, was published the following year.[2] His children's literature has often focused on social problems involving children.[2] In Das war der Hirbel (1973), he wrote about the home of a maladjusted child, and Oma (1975) talks about aging and death, whilst Theo haut ab (1977) deals with being uprooted from home and family. There are English translations of several of his children's books, including Granny (Oma), Crutches (Krücke), Ben Loves Anna (Ben liebt Anna), Old John (Alter John),[13] and Herbie's World (Das war der Hirbel).[14]


Härtling moderated Literatur im Kreuzverhör, a radio show on the cultural radio station of Hessischer Rundfunk.


Peter Härtling's awards include:[1]


Wilhelm Killmayer set nine of his poems in his song cycle Nine Songs to Poems from Peter Härtling in 1968.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Lebensdaten von Peter Härtling" (in German). Peter Härtling. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Goethe-Institut Children and Young Adult Literature Portal – Peter Härtling". Goethe-Institut. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Zur Geschichte der Gastdozentur Poetik" (in German). Goethe University Frankfurt. 19 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Reinhold Grimm (1985). "Review of Der spanische Soldat". 59. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40141538. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Schriftsteller Peter Härtling gestorben" (in German). hessenschau (Hessischer Rundfunk). Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Was bleibt? – Peter Härtling". Goethe-Institut. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d "Oxford Companion to German Literature: Peter Härtling". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  8. ^ Egbert Krisypn (1974). "Review of Zwettl". 48. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40128555. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Ernestine Schlant (1981). "Review of Nachgetragene Liebe". 55. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40136080. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Diner, Dan (1996). America in the eyes of the Germans: An essay on anti-Americanism. Markus Wiener. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-55876-105-6. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Peter Härtling – Hoffmann oder Die vielfältige Liebe". Perlentaucher (in German). Retrieved 7 February 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Marjorie L. Hoover (1997). "Review of Schumanns Schatten". 71. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40152883. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ English books by Peter Härtling at the Open Library
  14. ^ Herbie's World at WorldCat
  15. ^ "2006". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). With contemporary material including the press release, 27 March 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  16. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "Author Peter Härtling dies at 83: How foreignness shaped his career | DW | 10.07.2017". DW.COM. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  17. ^ "Schriftsteller Peter Härtling erhält Hessischen Kulturpreis 2014 | Informationsportal Hessen". Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  18. ^ "9 Songs to Poems from Peter Härtling". Schott. Retrieved 23 August 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Burckhard Dücker, Peter Härtling, München: Beck: Verlag Edition Text und Kritik, 1983, ISBN 3-406-08694-2 (in German)
  • Maciej Ganczar, Romantische Künstlerfiguren in der Prosa von Peter Härtling, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015, ISBN 978-3-631-66078-2 (in German)
*Ludvík Václavek: Peter Härtling und Olmütz. In: Lucy Topoľská und Ludvík Václavek: Beiträge zur Deutschsprachigen Literatur in Tschechien. (= Beiträge zur mährischen deutschsprachigen Literatur. Band 3). Univerzita Palackého, Olomouc 2000, ISBN 80-244-0185-1, S. 211-214.

External links[edit]