Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Almost everything that Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (GRIHM-uhls-how-zuhn) wrote falls into the category ofnarrative fiction. One exception is a series of annual almanacs published between 1671 and 1675. In addition to this series, Grimmelshausen produced a special type of almanac titled Des Abenteuerlichen Simplicissimi Ewig-währender Calender (1671; the adventurous Simplicissimus’s perpetual calendar). None of the almanacs constitutes a work of major importance, but they remain of interest to literary scholars because they contain a vast amount of information pertaining to the popular culture of the Baroque era. In Des Abenteuerlichen Simplicissimi Ewig-währender Calender, moreover, there is an extensive dialogue between an astrologer and theprotagonist of The Adventurous Simplicissimus that sheds light on certain aspects of the novel’s structure.

One may also find Grimmelshausen’s views on a variety of mundane and spiritual matters in the twenty discussions in the two volumes of Der satyrische Pilgram (1666, 1667; the satiric pilgrim). Although Grimmelshausen wrote but few poems, most of which appear within the context of his novels, his poetry is of a high order, and selections from it are frequently included in anthologies of German verse.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen’s The Adventurous Simplicissimus is undoubtedly the greatest German novel of the seventeenth century. The work proved to be an immediate popular success, albeit not a critical one, when it was published in 1669, and Grimmelshausen extended the story by issuing a separately bound continuation in the same year. The Continuation was eventually incorporated into later printings of The Adventurous Simplicissimus, where it now supplements the five books into which the original novel was divided. Public demand, moreover, led Grimmelshausen to write a number of other sequels over the next few years. Of these continuations, Courage, The Singular Life Story of Heedless Hopalong, and the two sections of Das wunderbarliche Vogelsnest are particularly important. The Adventurous Simplicissimus and its sequels are today referred to collectively as the Simplician cycle. What distinguishes these writings from the standard German fiction of that era is that they give the reader a vivid and realistic picture of the devastation caused by the Thirty Years’ War and the demoralization of the country in its aftermath. The only other novelist to write anything in a similar vein was Johann Michael Moscherosch, whose Wunderliche und warhafftige Gesichte Philanders von Sittewald (1643; the strange and true visions of Philander von Sittewald) contains, as one of its four parts, a...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anderson, Susan C. Grass and Grimmelshausen. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1987. A critical study that looks at Grimmelshausen in relation to one of Germany’s most famous twentieth century novelists, Günter Grass.

Aylett, R. P. T. The Nature of Realism in Grimmelshausen’s “Simplicissimus” Cycle of Novels. Las Vegas: Peter Lang, 1982. A critical study. Includes a bibliography.

Hayens, K. C. Grimmelshausen. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1932. A biographical study.

Horwich, Cara M. Survival in “Simplicissimus” and “Mutter Courage.” New York: Peter Lang, 1997. An examination of Simplicissimus and Bertolt Brecht’s play Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (pr. 1941; Mother Courage and Her Children, 1941), which was based on Grimmelshausen’s work.

Knight, K. G. “Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus—A Popular Baroque Novel.” In Periods in German Literature, edited by J. M. Ritchie. Vol. 25. London: O. Wolff, 1970. A critical study.

Lee, Stephen. The Thirty Years’ War. New York: Routledge, 1991. A good work on the era in which Grimmelshausen wrote.

Menhennet, Alan. Grimmelshausen the Storyteller: A Study of the “Simplician” Novels. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1997. From the series Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture.

Negus, Kenneth. Grimmelshausen. New York: Twayne, 1974. A standard biographical study.

Theibault, John. German Villages in Crisis: Rural Life in Hesse-Kassel and the Thirty Years’ War, 1580-1720. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1995. A good work on the era in which Grimmelshausen wrote.