Georg Weerth


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Weerth, Georg

 

Born Feb. 17, 1822, in Detmold; died July 30, 1856, in Havana. German writer; “the first and most important poet of the German proletariat” (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21, p. 5). Son of a church inspector, he worked as a commercial agent.

During 1843-46, Weerth lived in England, where he followed the development of the Chartist movement. He was a member of the Union of Communists and a comrade of K. Marx and F. Engels. During the Revolution of 1848-49 he joined the editorial staff of the New Rhine Newspaper. Weerth’s first poetic experiments were associated with the tradition of German romantic lyrics. His hero was the wandering apprentice. Weerth’s acquaintance with the life of the working class strengthened the militant revolutionary nature of his verse (“The Founder of Cannon” and “They Sat Under the Willow”). In Sketches from the Social and Political Life of the English (1843-47; reissued in 1954) the proletariat is depicted for the first time not as a passive sufferer but as the representative of a class which “knocks at the gates of the future” (Flower Day Among the English Workers). The leaflets of 1848 were satirical chronicles exposing the enemies of the revolution. The vivid image of the German burgher stands at the center of the novella Humorous Sketches from German Commercial Life (1847-48). The novel The Life and Adventures of the Famous Knight Schnapphahnski (1849) contains a satirical representation of the Prussian nobleman. Weerth is one of the earliest representatives of the literature of socialist realism.

WORKS

Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1-5. Berlin, 1956-57.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1957.

REFERENCES

Shiller, F. P. Georg Veert. Moscow-Leningrad, 1932.
Matuzova, N. M. Proza G. Veerta v “Novoi Reinskoi gazete.” Kiev, 1957.
Turaev, S. V. Georg Veert i nemetskaia literatura revoliutsii 1848 goda. Moscow, 1963.
Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 35.
Lange, M. Georg Weerth. Berlin, 1957.

S. V. TURAEV

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