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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > G > Johann Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen

Johann Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen

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The greatest German novelist of the seventeenth century. What we know of his life is largely gathered from his own writing. He was born near Glenhausen in Jesse about the year 1625, when the Thirty Years War was at its height. While still a boy he was carried off by marauding troopers, and until the close of the war in 1648 he led a soldier's life. In 1667 he was in the service of the Bishop of Strasburg as Schultheiss (bailiff) in the town of Renehen in Baden. In this position he remained up to the time of his death, 17 August, 1676. Nothing definite is known of his life during the period from 1648 to 1667; but it seems that he travelled extensively, for his writings show acquaintance with many lands and peoples. In the earlier part of his life Grimmelshausen was a Protestant but later on he became a Catholic as is attested by a notice of his death in the parish-record of Renehen.

He is the author of many romances but the most is famous is "Der abenteurliche Simplicissimus", which appeared at Mompelgard 1669. It is modelled on the picaresque novels of Spain and relates in the form of an autobiography, for which, no doubt, the author's own life furnished many traits, the fortunes of the hero during the troublous times of the great war. Many of the episodes narrated are coarse and repulsive, but are related with never-failing humour, and the whole work is pervaded by a deeply religious spirit. A number of writings in similar vein followed, such as "Trutzsimplex" (1670?), "Der selzame Springinsfeld" (1670), "Das wunderbarliche Vogel-Nest" (in 2 parts, 1672), and other minor works. Grimmelshausen also wrote a number of romances in the heroic-gallant manner in vogue in his day; such are "Der keusche Joseph", his earliest work (probably 1667), "Dietwald und Amelinde" (1670), and "Proximus und Lympida" (1672). The last two works mentioned were published with the author's real name on the title-page, for most of his other works he used pseudonyms, that were anagrams of his name, so that for a long time it remained unknown.

The "Simplicissimus", together with other writings of Grimmelshausen, was edited by Keller (Stuttgart, 1854-62, "Bibliothek des Litterarischen Vereins zu Stuttgart", xxxiii, xxxiv); by Kurz (Leipzig, 1863, 4 vols., "Deutsche Bibliothek", III-VI); by Tittman (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1877, in "Deutsche Dichter des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts", ed. Goedeke and Tittmann), and by Bobertag (in "Kürschners Deutsche National Litteratur", xxxiii-xxxv). A reprint of the oldest original edition of the "Simplicissimus" was published by Kogel (Halle, 1880, "Neudrucke deutscher Literaturwerke des 16 und 17 Jahrhunderts", xix-xxv).


Consult introductions to above-mentioned editions; also KELLER in Allgemeine deutsche Biorgraphie (Leipzig, 1875-1900), s.v.; ANTOINE, Etude sur le Simplicissimus de Grimmelshausan (Paris, 1882); BOBERTAG, Geschichte des Romans in Deutschland (Breslau and Berlin, 1876-84), II, pt. II, 1-110.

About this page

APA citation. Remy, A.F.J. (1910). Johann Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Remy, Arthur F.J. "Johann Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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