Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1621August 17, 1676) was a German author best known for his novel Simplicius Simplicissimus.

Grimmelshausen was born at Gelnhausen. At the age of ten he was kidnapped by Hessian soldiery, and in their midst tasted the adventures of military life in the Thirty Years' War. At its close, Grimmelshausen entered the service of Franz Egon von Fürstenberg, bishop in Straßburg and in 1665 was made Schultheiss (magistrate) at Renchen in Baden.

On obtaining this appointment, he devoted himself to literary pursuits, and in 1668 published Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch, d.h. die Beschreibung des Lebens eines seltsamen Vaganten, genannt Melchior Sternfels von Fuchsheim, the greatest German novel of the 17th century. For this work he took as his model the picaresque romances of Spain, already to some extent known in Germany. Simplicissimus is in great measure 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 one of the most valuable documents of its time. In the later parts Grimmelshausen, however, over-indulges in allegory, and finally loses himself in a Robinson Crusoe story.

Among his other works the most important are the so-called Simplicianische Schriften:

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

His satires, such as Der teutsche Michel (1670), and gallant novels, like Dietwald und Amelinde (1670) are of inferior interest. He died at Renchen on August 17, 1676, where a monument was erected to him in 1779.

Grimmelshausen's "Landstörtzerin Courasche" became an important inspiration for Bertolt Brecht´s play "Mutter Courage".


Editions of Simplicissimus and the Simpliclanische Schriften have been published by

A reprint of the first edition of the novel was edited by R. Kügel for the series of Weudrucke des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (1880). See the introductions to these editions; also

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