Gottsched, Johann Christoph

Gottsched, Johann Christoph

(yō`hän krĭs`tôf gôt`shĕt), 1700–1766, German literary critic, disciple of the Enlightenment. As professor of poetry and philosophy at the Univ. of Leipzig, he virtually dictated intellectual life in that city, and he exerted great influence upon 18th-century German letters, largely through the controversies he aroused. His rationalistic Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst [a critical approach to poetry] (1730) rejects poetic fancy and conceits, stressing purity of language and classic construction. Gottsched's theories were convincingly refuted by BodmerBodmer, Johann Jakob
, 1698–1783, Swiss critic, poet, and editor. He translated Milton's Paradise Lost and Middle High German poetry. Inspired by the Spectator, Bodmer published, with J. J.
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 and Breitinger. He wrote much on dramatic theory and also engaged the troupe of Karoline Neuber to perform plays that he and his wife, Luise Adelgunde, wrote or adapted, notably The Dying Cato (1732).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gottsched, Johann Christoph


Born Feb. 2, 1700, in Königsberg; died Dec. 12. 1766, in Leipzig. German author and critic.

Gottsched was a representative of the early German Enlightenment. He edited some moralistic weeklies and collaborated with the theatrical company of Karoline Neuber. A convinced adherent of classicism, Gottsched argued against the extremes of baroque and for clarity and verisimilitude. His principal works were An Attempt at a Critical Poetics for the Germans (1730) and German Theater, by the Rules of Ancient Greece and Rome (vols. 1–6, 1741–45). German translations by Gottsched and his wife of the works of Corneille. Racine, and Molière played a definite role in shaping the German literary language and ideas of enlightenment. However, Gottsched’s servility to those in power and the abstract and lifeless nature of his classicism became a target of ridicule by G. E. Lessing and the writers of the Sturm und Drang school.


Gesammelte Schriften, vols. 1–5. Berlin, 1903–06. In Russian translation, in the book by N. V. Gerbel’. Nemetskie poety ν biogra-fiiakh i obraztsakh. St. Petersburg. 1877.


Reichel, E. Gottsched, vols. 1–2. Berlin-Schöneberg, 1912.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Gottsched, Johann Christoph. Beytrage zur Critischen Historie der Deutschen Sprache, Poesie und Beredsamkeit.