Paul Heyse

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Paul Heyse
Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel 042.jpg
Portrait of Paul Heyse, by Adolph von Menzel
BornPaul Johann Ludwig von Heyse
(1830-03-15)15 March 1830
Berlin, German Confederation
Died2 April 1914(1914-04-02) (aged 84)
Munich, German Empire
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature

Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (15 March 1830 – 2 April 1914) was a distinguished German writer and translator. A member of two important literary societies, the Tunnel über der Spree in Berlin and Die Krokodile in Munich, he wrote novels, poetry, 177 short stories, and about sixty dramas. The sum of Heyse's many and varied productions made him a dominant figure among German men of letters. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910 "as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories." Wirsen, one of the Nobel judges, said that "Germany has not had a greater literary genius since Goethe." Heyse is the fifth oldest laureate in literature, after Sully Prudhomme, Theodor Mommsen, Alice Munro and Jaroslav Seifert.

Der Tunnel über der Spree was a German literary society based in Berlin, founded on 3 December 1827 by Moritz Gottlieb Saphir. Most active between 1840 and 1860, it acquired 214 members and influenced literary life in Berlin for more than seventy years.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Die Krokodile was a small poets' society in Munich which existed from 1856 to the 1870s.



Berlin (1830–54)

Paul Heyse was born on 15 March 1830 in Heiliggeiststraße, Berlin. His father, the distinguished philologist Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse, was a professor at the University of Berlin who had been the tutor of both Wilhelm von Humboldt's youngest son (during 1815–17) and Felix Mendelssohn (during 1819–27). His paternal grandfather Johann Christian August Heyse (21 April 1764, Nordhausen – 27 July 1829, Magdeburg), was a famous German grammarian and lexicographer. Paul Heyse's mother was Jewish [1] .

Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse German philologist

Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse was a German philologist, son of Johann Christian August Heyse, father of the novelist Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse, born at Oldenburg.

Wilhelm von Humboldt German (Prussian) philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the University of Berlin

Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt was a Prussian philosopher, linguist, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin, which was named after him in 1949.

Felix Mendelssohn 19th-century German composer, pianist and organist

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

Heyse attended the renamed Friedrich-Wilhelms-Gymnasium until 1847. He was later remembered as a model student. His family connections gained him early entry to the artistic circles of Berlin, where he made the acquaintance of Emanuel Geibel, a man fifteen years his elder who was to become his literary mentor and lifelong friend, and who introduced him to his future father-in-law, the art historian and writer Franz Kugler.

Emanuel Geibel German poet and playwright

Emanuel von Geibel, German poet and playwright.

Franz Theodor Kugler German art historian

Franz Theodor Kugler was an art historian and cultural administrator for the Prussian state. He was the father of historian Bernhard von Kugler (1837-1898).

After leaving school Heyse began studying classical philology. He met Jacob Burckhardt, Adolph Menzel, Theodor Fontane and Theodor Storm, and in 1849 joined the Tunnel über der Spree literary group. Frühlingsanfang 1848, the first of Heyse's poems to see print, expressed his enthusiasm for the recent Revolution. After a brief excursion to see the student militias he returned home without joining them, apparently out of consideration for the concerns of his parents and friends.

Jacob Burckhardt Swiss historian

Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a Swiss historian of art and culture and an influential figure in the historiography of both fields. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history. Sigfried Giedion described Burckhardt's achievement in the following terms: "The great discoverer of the age of the Renaissance, he first showed how a period should be treated in its entirety, with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the social institutions of its daily life as well." Burckhardt's best known work is The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860).

Adolph Menzel German artist

Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel was a German Realist artist noted for drawings, etchings, and paintings. Along with Caspar David Friedrich, he is considered one of the two most prominent German painters of the 19th century, and was the most successful artist of his era in Germany. First known as Adolph Menzel, he was knighted in 1898 and changed his name to Adolph von Menzel.

Theodor Fontane German novelist and poet

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Having studied for two years at the University of Berlin he left for Bonn in April 1849 in order to study art history and Romance languages. In 1850 he finally resolved on a career as a writer and began a dissertation under the supervision of Friedrich Diez, a pioneer of Romance philology in Germany; but when it was discovered he was conducting an affair with the wife of one of his professors he was sent back to Berlin. Heyse's first book, Der Jungbrunnen (a collection of tales and poetry) was published anonymously by his father that same year as was his tragedy Francesca von Rimini. About the same time, Heyse received from the publisher Alexander Duncker a manuscript by the then-unknown Theodor Storm. Heyse's enthusiastic critique of Sommergeschichten und Lieder laid the foundations of their future friendship.

Bonn Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Alexander Duncker German publisher and bookseller

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Theodor Storm German writer

Hans Theodor Woldsen Storm, commonly known as Theodor Storm, was a German writer. He is considered to be one of the most important figures of German realism.

In 1851 Heyse won a contest held by the members of the "Tunnel" for the ballad Das Tal von Espigno, and his first short story, "Marion" (1852), was similarly honoured. It was followed in 1852 by the Spanisches Liederbuch , a collection of translations of poems and folk songs by Geibel and Heyse which was to be a favourite with composers, including Robert Schumann (Opp. 74 & 138), Adolf Jensen (Op. 21) and Hugo Wolf (Lieder collection Spanisches Liederbuch , 1891). Wolf also set poems from Heyse's collection Italienisches Liederbuch of 1860 (Lieder collection Italienisches Liederbuch 189296). Throughout his career Heyse worked as a translator, above all of Italian literature (Leopardi, Giusti).

Spanisches Liederbuch is a collection of translations of Spanish poems and folk songs into German by Emanuel Geibel (1815–84) and Paul Heyse (1830–1914). It was first published in 1852.

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Adolf Jensen German pianist, composer and music teacher

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Several members of the "Tunnel" began to find its formalities and public nature distasteful, and a smaller circle, the Rütli , was formed in December 1852: it included Kugler, Lepel, Fontane, Storm, and Heyse.

In May 1852 Heyse was awarded a doctorate [2] for his work on the troubadours, and a Prussian scholarship allowed him to depart for Italy to look for old Provençal manuscripts. He made friends with Arnold Böcklin and Joseph Victor von Scheffel but was banned from the Vatican library after being discovered copying passages from unpublished manuscripts. He returned to Germany in 1853, where, with the Italian landscape still fresh in his mind, he wrote the works which first made him famous: his most famous short story, "L'Arrabbiata" ("The Fury", 1853, published in 1855); and the Lieder aus Sorrent ("Songs of Sorrento", 1852/53). Much of his new writing appeared in the Argo, the yearbook of the Rütli writers.

Munich (1854–1914)

Emanuel Geibel persuaded the King of Bavaria, Maximilian II, to grant Heyse a titular professorship in Munich. Heyse was thus appointed professor of Romance philology, although he never taught at that city's university. After his marriage on 15 May to Margarete Kugler he arrived in Munich on 25 May 1854. At his first audience with the King, Heyse presented his verse tales, Hermen, and began a productive life as one of the Nordlichtern ("northern lights": Geibel, Heyse and Riehl) and establishing another literary society, Die Krokodile, which included Felix Dahn, Wilhelm Hertz, Hermann Lingg, Franz von Kobell, the cultural historian Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, Friedrich Bodenstedt, and the travel writer and art patron Adolf Friedrich von Schack. In December Heyse began a long correspondence with Eduard Mörike.

On 22 August 1855 Heyse's first son, Franz, was born. Heyse would have four children by his first marriage: Franz (1855–1919), Julie or Lulu (Frau Baumgarten, 1857–1928), Ernst (1859–1871) and Clara (Frau Layriz, 1861–1931). In 1859, obligations to the Kugler family led Heyse to take up a position as editor of the Literaturblatt zum deutschen Kunstblatt, and he declined a tempting offer from the Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Weimar which would have involved moving to Thuringia.

On 30 September 1862, his wife Margarete died in Meran of a lung illness. He completed the historical drama, Ludwig der Bayer – a Bavarian period piece which Maximilian II had long been eager to see – but its theatrical production was a failure. Nevertheless, Heyse worked throughout the 1860s on new plays, eventually achieving his greatest success with Kolberg (1865).

He married Anna Schubart in 1867. Over the next three decades, Heyse continued to write prolifically. Despite a number of bereavements his life was uneventful, and his fame grew steadily until he was a world-famous figure. He was a very early opponent of naturalism, making critical references to it in print long before its influence could be felt in Germany. Younger critics who favoured naturalism made attacks on his writings, to which he replied in Merlin (1892): but their influence on the public was negligible. He was dubbed Dichterfürst, prince of poetry, and he worked tirelessly to promote international understanding within Europe. In 1900, he was named an honorary citizen of Munich, and several special publications honoured his 70th birthday; and in 1910, he was made a member of the nobility, before being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on 10 December. He could not attend the ceremony, and was represented in Sweden by Count von Pückler.

His last published works were Letzten Novellen and Italienischen Volksmärchen (1914). He died on 2 April 1914, several months before the outbreak of World War I, and was buried in the old section of the Waldfriedhof (Nr. 43-W-27).

A street in Munich, "Paul-Heyse Strasse" is named after him as well as “Heysestrasse” in Hamburg Bergedorf. It crosses Schwanthaler Strasse and it is near the "Theresienwiese", the site of Munich's annual Bierfest.

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  1. Julius Petersen: Die Wissenschaft von der Dichtung, Berlin 1944, p 291.