Jean Paul


Jean Paul

Infobox Writer
name = Johann Paul Friedrich Richter


imagesize = 250px
caption =
pseudonym = Jean Paul
birthdate = birth date|1763|3|21|df=y
birthplace = Wunsiedel, Germany
deathdate = death date and age|1825|11|14|1763|3|21|df=y
deathplace = Bayreuth, Germany
occupation = novelist
nationality = German
period = 1783-1825
genre = humour
subject = education, politics
movement =
influences =
influenced =


website =

Jean Paul (21 March, 1763—14 November, 1825), born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, was a German writer, best known for his humorous novels and stories.

Life and work

Jean Paul was born at Wunsiedel, in the Fichtelgebirge mountains (Bavaria). His father was a schoolmaster and organist at Wunsiedel. In 1765 he became a pastor at Joditz near Hof, and in 1767 at Schwarzenbach, but he died on 25 April, 1779, leaving the family in great poverty. After attending the "Gymnasium" at Hof, Jean Paul went in 1781 to the University of Leipzig. His original intention was to enter his father's profession, but theology did not interest him, and he soon devoted himself wholly to the study of literature. Unable to maintain himself at Leipzig he returned in 1784 to Hof, where he lived with his mother. From 1787 to 1789 he served as a tutor at Töpen, a village near Hof; and from 1790 to 1794 he taught the children of several families in a school he had founded in Schwarzenbach.

Jean Paul began his career as a man of letters with "Grönländische Prozesse" ("Greenland Lawsuits", published anonymously in Berlin) and "Auswahl aus des Teufels Papieren" ("Selections from the Devil's Papers", signed J. P. F. Hasus), the former of which was issued in 1783-84, the latter in 1789. These works were not received with much favour, and in later life Richter himself had little sympathy with their satirical tone. A spiritual crisis he suffered on 15 November, 1790, in which he had a vision of his own death, altered his outlook profoundly. His next book, "Die unsichtbare Loge" ("The Invisible Lodge"), a romance published in 1793 under the pen-name Jean Paul (in honour of Jean Jacques Rousseau), had all the qualities that were soon to make him famous, and its power was immediately recognized by some of the best critics of the day.

Encouraged by the reception of "Die unsichtbare Loge", he sent forth in rapid succession "Leben des vergnügten Schulmeisterleins Maria Wutz in Auenthal" ("Life of the Cheerful Schoolmaster Maria Wutz", 1793), "Hesperus" (1795)—which became the greatest hit since Goethe's "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers" and made Jean Paul famous—"Biographische Belustigungen unter der Gehirnschale einer Riesin" ("Biographical Recreations under the Brainpan of a Giantess", 1796), "Leben des Quintus Fixlein" ("Life of Quintus Fixlein’, 1796), "Blumen- Frucht- und Dornenstücke, oder Ehestand, Tod und Hochzeit des Armenadvokaten Siebenkäs" ("Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces; or, the Married Life, Death and Wedding of Siebenkäs, Poor Man's Lawyer", 1796-97), "Der Jubelsenior" ("The Parson in Jubilee", 1798), and "Das Kampaner Tal" ("The Valley of Campan", 1797). This series of writings won for Jean Paul an assured place in German literature, and during the rest of his life every work he produced was welcomed by a wide circle of admirers.

After his mother's death he went to Leipzig in 1797, and in the following year to Weimar, where he made friends with Herder, by whom he was warmly appreciated. He did not become close to Goethe and Schiller, both of whom found his literary methods repugnant; but in Weimar, as elsewhere, his remarkable conversational powers and his genial manners made him a favorite in general society. In 1801 he married Caroline Meyer, whom he had met in Berlin the year before. They lived first at Meiningen, then at Coburg; and finally, in 1804, they settled at Bayreuth.

Here Jean Paul spent a quiet, simple and happy life, constantly occupied with his work as a writer. In 1808 he was fortunately delivered from anxiety about outward necessities by Prince Primate Karl Theodor von Dalberg, who gave him a pension. Before settling at Bayreuth, Richter had published his most ambitious novel, "Titan" (1800-3); and this was followed by "Flegeljahre" ("The Awkward Age", 1804-5), two works which he himself regarded as his masterpieces. His later imaginative works were "Dr. Katzenbergers Badereise" ("Dr Katzenberger's Trip to the Medicinal Springs", 1809), "Des Feldpredigers Schmelzle Reise nach Flätz" ("Army Chaplain Schmelzle's Voyage to Flätz", 1809), "Leben Fibels" ("Life of Fibel", 1812), and "Der Komet, oder Nikolaus Marggraf" ("The Comet, or, Nikolaus Markgraf", 1820-22). In "Vorschule der Ästhetik" ("Introduction to Aesthetics", 1804) he expounded his ideas on art; he discussed the principles of education in "Levana, oder Erziehungslehre" ("Levana, or, Pedagogy", 1807); and ideas suggested by current events he set forth in "Friedenspredigt" ("Peace Sermon", 1808), "Dämmerungen für Deutschland" ("Twilights for Germany", 1809), "Mars und Phöbus Thronwechsel im Jahre 1814" ("Mars and Phoebus Exchange Thrones in the Year 1814", 1814), and "Politische Fastenpredigen" ("Political Lenten Sermons", 1817). In his last years he began "Wahrheit aus Jean Pauls Leben" ("The Truth from Jean Paul's Life") to which additions from his papers and other sources were made after his death by C. Otto and E. Fürster. In September 1821 Jean Paul lost his only son, Max, a youth of the highest promise; and he never quite recovered from this shock. He lost his sight in 1824, and died of dropsy at Bayreuth, on 14 November, 1825.

Characteristics of his work

Friedrich Schiller said of Jean Paul that he would have been worthy of admiration if he had made as good use of his riches as other men made of their poverty—the classic approach of "Weimar".

But in working out his conceptions, Jean Paul found it appropriate to express any powerful feeling by which he might happen to be moved. He made it his style to use seemingly out-of-the-way facts or psychological notions which occurred to him. Hence every one of his works is irregular in structure and his style lacks directness, though never grace. His imagination was one of extraordinary fertility, and he had a surprising power of suggesting great thoughts by means of the simplest incidents and relations. The love of nature was one of Jean Paul's deepest pleasures; his expressions of religious feelings are also marked by a truly poetic spirit, for to him visible things were but the symbols of the invisible, and in the unseen realities alone he found elements which seemed to him to give significance and dignity to human life. His humour, the most distinctive of his qualities, cannot be dissociated from the other characteristics of his writings. It mingled with all his thoughts, and to some extent determined the form in which he embodied even his most serious reflections. That it is sometimes extravagant and grotesque cannot be disputed, but it is never harsh nor vulgar, and generally it springs naturally from the perception of the incongruity between ordinary facts and ideal laws.

Jean Paul's personality was deep and many-sided; with all his willfulness and eccentricity he was a man of a pure and sensitive spirit, with a passionate scorn for pretence and an ardent enthusiasm for truth and goodness.

Reception

19th century works on Jean Paul

Richter's "Sämtliche Werke" ("Complete Works") appeared in 1826-28 in 60 volumes, to which were added 5 volumes of "Literarischer Nachlass" (literary bequest) in 1836-38; a second edition was published in 1840-42 (33 volumes); a third in 1860-62 (24 volumes). The last complete edition is that edited by R. Gottschall (60 parts, 1879). Editions of selected works appeared in 16 volumes (1865), in Kürschner's "Deutsche Nationalliteratur" (edited by P. Nerrlich, 6 vols, pp.388-487), &c. The chief collections of Richter's correspondence are:
* "Jean Pauls Briefe an F. H. Jacobi" (1828)
* "Briefwechsel Jean Pauls mit seinem Freunde C. Otto" (1829-33)
* "Briefwechsel zwischen H. Voss und Jean Paul" (1833)
* "Briefe an eine Jugendfreundin" (1858)
* P. Nerrlich, "Jean Pauls Briefwechsel mit seiner Frau und seinem Freunde Otto" (1902).

See further:
* The continuation of Richter's autobiography by C. Otto and E. Fürster (1826-33)
* H. Dring, "J. P. F. Richters Leben und Charakteristik" (1830-32)
* Richard Otto Spazier, "JPF Richter: ein biographischer Commentar zu dessen Werken" (5 vols, 1833)
* E. Fürster, "Denkwürdigkeiten aus dem Leben von J. P. F. Richter" (1863)
* Paul Nerrlich, "Jean Paul und seine Zeitgenossen" (1876)
* J. Firmery, "Étude sur la vie et les œuvres de J. P. F. Richter" (1886)
* P. Nerrlich, "Jean Paul, sein Leben und seine Werke" (1889)
* Ferdinand Josef Schneider, "Jean Pauls Altersdichtung" (1901); and "Jean Pauls Jugend und erstes Auftreten in der Literatur" (1906).

Richter's more important works have been translated into English, "Quintus Fixlein" and "Schmelzles Reise", by Carlyle; see also Carlyle's two essays on Richter.

Quotations

* Joy is inexhaustible, unlike seriousness.
* Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.
* Many young people get worked up about opinions that they will share in 20 years.
* Too much trust is a foolishness, too much distrust a tragedy.
* The German language is the organ among the languages. ("Die deutsche Sprache ist die Orgel unter den Sprachen.")
* A man never describes his own character so clearly as when he describes another.

List of works

* "Grönländische Prozesse" 1783-1784
* "Auswahl aus des Teufels Papieren" 1789
* "Leben des vergnügten Schulmeisterlein Maria Wutz" 1790
* "Die unsichtbare Loge" 1793
* "Hesperus (book)" 1795
* "Biographische Belustigungen" 1796
* "Leben des Quintus Fixlein" 1796
* "Siebenkäs" 1796
* "Der Jubelsenior" 1797
* "Das Kampaner Tal" 1797
* "Titan" 1802
* "Flegeljahre" (unfinished) 1804
* "Vorschule der Aesthetik" 1804
* "Levana oder Erziehlehre" 1807
* "Dr. Katzenbergers Badereise" 1809
* "Des Feldpredigers Schmelzle Reise nach Flätz" 1809
* "Leben Fibels" 1812
* "Bemerkungen über uns närrische Menschen"
* "Clavis Fichtiana" (see also Johann Gottlieb Fichte)
* "Das heimliche Klaglied der jetzigen Männer"
* "Der Komet" 1820-1822
* "Der Maschinenmann"
* "Des Luftschiffers Giannozzo Seebuch"
* "Die wunderbare Gesellschaft in der Neujahrsnacht"
* "Freiheits-Büchlein"

External links

* [http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/autoren/jeanpaul.htm Jean Paul's works] at Projekt Gutenberg-DE (in German)
* [http://quotationpark.com/authors/RICHTER,%20Jean%20Paul.html Famous Quotes by Jean Paul Richter]

Persondata
NAME=Paul, Jean
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Richter, Johann Paul Friedrich; Hasus, J. P. F.
SHORT DESCRIPTION= German novelist
DATE OF BIRTH= 21 March, 1763
PLACE OF BIRTH= Wunsiedel, Germany
DATE OF DEATH= 14 November, 1825
PLACE OF DEATH= Bayreuth, Germany


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