Georg Gottfried Gervinus

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Gervinus, Georg Gottfried


Born May 20, 1805, in Darmstadt; died Mar. 18, 1871, in Heidelberg. German historian and literary critic. Professor at the universities of Göttingen (1836-37) and Heidelberg (1835, 1844-53).

Gervinus was one of the leading figures of the liberal-bourgeois opposition in southwestern Germany on the eve of and during the Revolution of 1848-49. He was a member of the Frankfurt assembly in 1848 and advocated the unification of Germany under Prussian hegemony on the condition that Prussia be transformed into a constitutional monarchy. In the 1860’s he criticized Bismarck’s policies and Prussian chauvinism from the viewpoint of a moralist and propagator of enlightenment. Gervinus was a representative of the so-called Heidelberg school of historians, and he followed F. Schlosser’s lead in the study of spiritual culture. In his investigation of European history from 1815 to 1848, History of the Nineteenth Century From the Time of the Congress of Vienna (vols. 1-8, 1855-66; in Russian translation, vols. 1-6, 1863-88), he criticized Metternich’s reactionary regime and sympathetically portrayed the progressive bourgeoisie and national liberation movements. A prominent representative of the cultural-historical school, Gervinus emphasized the close tie between literature and its times in his works on the history of literature, such as History of the Poetical National Literature of the Germans (vols. 1-5, 1835-42) and Shakespeare (vols. 1-4, 1849-50; in Russian translation, 1877).


Storozhenko, N. I. “Shekspirovskaia kritika v Germanii.” Vestnik Evropy, 1869, vols. 5-6, books 10-11.
Storozhenko, N. I. “Znachenie Shekspira po tolkovaniiu Gervinusa.” Otechestvennye zapiski, 1864, book 3.
Rychner, M. G. G. Gervinus: Ein Kapitel über Literaturgeschichte. Bern-Zürich, 1922.
Schilfert, G., and H. Schleier. “G. G. Gervinus als Historiker.” In Studien über die deutsche Geschichtswissenschaft, vol. 1. Berlin, 1963.


References in classic literature ?
Gervinus, Schlosser, and others, for instance, at one time prove Napoleon to be a product of the Revolution, of the ideas of 1789 and so forth, and at another plainly say that the campaign of 1812 and other things they do not like were simply the product of Napoleon's misdirected will, and that the very ideas of 1789 were arrested in their development by Napoleon's caprice.
But the universal historian Gervinus, refuting this opinion of the specialist historian, tries to prove that the campaign of 1813 and the restoration of the Bourbons were due to other things beside Alexander's will- such as the activity of Stein, Metternich, Madame de Stael, Talleyrand, Fichte Chateaubriand, and others.
Georg Gottfried Gervinus wrote in 1842 that: "[Uhland's] poetry stands against the southerly and oriental lyric poetry of the Romantics through its patriotic tendency in a way that is similar in steadfastness to how the indigenous epic of the German middle ages stood against the derivative courtly romances of foreigners.
Georg Gervinus, mentioned along with Keats and Ruskin in the opening scene-setting prose paragraph, resurfaces here.
of Gervinus in literature, of Schlosser and Hausser in history, of Bluntschli in international law, of Rothe in theology, of Zeller and Fischer in philosophy.
A long line of nineteenth-century writers--among them figures such as Heinrich Heine, the literary historian Georg Gottfried Gervinus, and Rudolf Haym, author of the influential study Die romantische Schule [The Romantic School, 1870]--dismiss with varying degrees of intensity the most innovative elements in Schlegel's poetological (7) writings in favor of a broad critique of his mysticism and piousness, thus projecting his conversion to Cathohcism in 1808 back onto his work of a decade earlier.
Jauss's thesis--that traditional literary history, as it was conceived by Gervinus, Scherer, De Sanctis or Lanson, had completely lost its prestige--found a great resonance in Italy.