Adelbert Von Chamisso

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chamisso, Adelbert Von


Born Jan. 30, 1781, at the Chateau de Boncourt in Champagne, France; died Aug. 21, 1838, in Berlin. German writer and naturalist.

Chamisso, descended from a line of the Lotharingian nobility, served as an officer in the Prussian Army from 1801 to 1806. From 1812 to 1815 he studied botany, zoology, and medicine in Berlin. From 1815 to 1818 he took part in an expedition around the world on the Russian brig Riurik, during which he kept a diary, published as Voyage Around the World (1834–36). In 1819 he discovered the alternation of generations (metagenesis) in organisms of the subclass Salpae.

Chamisso’s most famous work of fiction is the tale Peter Schlemihl’s Remarkable Story (1814; Russian translation, 1841). Employing the story of a man who loses his shadow, Chamisso reveals the psychological plight of contemporary man, tempted by wealth and threatened by the loss of his personality. Chamisso can only partly be considered a romantic, as Peter Schlemihl is actually an example of late realist literary trends. Chamisso’s lyric poetry expresses love for the common people, as well as an interest in social issues. These works include his translations of P. J. de Béranger as well as original works in the style of Béranger and the narrative poem The Exiles (1831). His “Frauenliebe und -leben” cycle (1830) was set to music by R. Schumann (1840).


Werke: Gedichte. Edited by O. Walzel. Stuttgart, 1892.
Werke, vols. 1–3. Leipzig-Vienna [1907].
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv. v perevodakh rus. pisatelei. St. Petersburg, 1899.
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1974.


Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1966.
Feudel, W. A. von Chamisso. Leipzig, 1971. (Contains bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Their topics include Adelbert von Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl and the quest for the self, Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus as a political document, D.
The programme includes Schumann's settings of Heine's Love Poems, or Dichterliebe, alongside his Frauenliebe und Leben, songs to the texts of Adelbert von Chamisso describing the course of a woman's love for her man.
In The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl (1814), Adelbert von Chamisso told the tale of a man who sells his shadow to the devil in exchange for a bottomless wallet, only to realize that a man without a shadow is a man with no identity.
"I have two languages behind / both ears / and that is more exciting / than having four eyes behind one language" (Dragica Rajcic, Adelbert von Chamisso Web site).
Poet, essayist, recipient of the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, those who retold the Faust legend without Goethe's happy ending included Adelbert von Chamisso, Faust, Ein Versuch (1804); Christian Grabbe, Don Juan und Faust (1829); Nikolaus Lenau, Faust: Ein Gedicht (1836); Heinrich Heine, Der Doktor Faust: Ein Tanzpoem (1851); and Paul Valery, Mon Faust (1946).
Conceived in collaboration with Hoffmann's friend, the poet and naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso, (6) the name "Haimatochare" means "delighting in blood" in ancient Greek, although it is meant to be easily mistaken for that of a maiden from the South Seas (E.T.A.