Georg Gottfried Gervinus

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.