1902 Encyclopedia > August Heinrich Hoffmann

August Heinrich Hoffmann
(Hoffmann von Fallersleben)
German poet, philologist, and historian of literature

AUGUST HEINRICH HOFFMANN, (1798-1874), known as Hoffmann von Fallersleben, German poet, philologist, and historian of literature, was born at Fallersleben, in Lüneburg, April 2, 1798. He was educated at Helmstädt and Brunswick, and afterwards at the universities of Göttingen and Bonn. His original intention was to study theology, but he soon devoted himself entirely to literature. In 1823 he was appointed librarian to the university of Breslau, a post which he held till 1838. He was made extraordinary professor of the German language and litera-ture at the university in 1830, and full professor in 1835 ; but he was deprived of his chair in 1842 in consequence of his Unpolitische Lieder, which gave much offence to the ruling classes of Prussia. He then travelled for some time in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and lived for two or three years in Mecklenburg, of which he became a natural-ized citizen. The revolution of 1848 brought him back to Prussia, where he was restored to his rights, and received as a pension the " Wartegeld," that is, the salary attached to a promised office which is not yet vacant. He married in 1849, and during the next ten years lived first in Bingerbrück, afterwards in Neuwied, and then in Weimar, where he was one of the editors of the Weimarische Jahrbuch. In 1860 he became librarian to the duke of Ratibor, and he retained this appointment till his death on the 20th of January 1874. Fallersleben was one of the best popular poets of modern Germany. In politics he ardently sympathized with the progressive tendencies of his time, and he was among the earliest and most effec-tive of the political poets who prepared the way for the outbreak of 1848. As a poet, however, he acquired distinc-tion chiefly by the ease, simplicity, and grace with which he gave expression to the passions and aspirations of ordinary life. Although he had not been scientifically trained in music, he composed melodies for many of his songs, and a considerable number of them are sung by all classes in every part of Germany.

The best known of his poetical writings is his Gedichte (8th edition, Berlin, 1874); but there is great merit also in his Aleman-nische Lieder (5th edition, Mannheim, 1843), Soldatenlieder (Mainz, 1851), Soldatenleben (Berlin, 1852), Rheinleben (Neuwied, 1865), and in his Fünfzig Kinderlieder, Fünfzig Neue Kinderlieder, and Alte und Neue Kinderlieder. His Unpolitische Lieder, Deutsche Lieder aus der Schweiz, and Streiflichter are not without poetical value, but they are mainly interesting in relation to the practical movements of the age in which they were written. As a student of ancient Teutonic literature Fallersleben ranks among the most persevering and cultivated of German scholars, some of the chief results of his labours being embodied in his Horm Bélgica:, Fund-gruben für Geschichte deutscher Sprache und Literatur, A ltdcutsche Blätter, Spenden zur deutsehen Literaturgeschichte, and Findlinge. Among his editions of particular works may be named Reineke Vos, Monumenta Ehwnensia, and Theophilus. Die Deutsehe Philo-logie im Grundriss (1836) was at the time of its publication a valuable contribution to philological research, and historians of German literature still attach importance to his Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes bis auf Luther (1832; 3d ed., 1861), Unsere volksthümlichen Lieder (3d ed., 1869), and Die deutschen Gesell-schaftslieder des 16 und 17 Jahrh. (2d ed., 1860). In 1868-70 Fallersleben published in 6 vols, an autobiography, Mein Leben: Aufzeichnungen und Erinnerungen. See also Briefe von Hoffmann von Fallersleben und Moritz Haupt an Ferdinand Wolf (Vienna, 1874); Wagner, Hofmann von Fallersleben, 1818-68 (Vienna, 1869); and Gottschall, Porträts und Studien (vol. v., Leipsic, 1876).

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