Immermann, Karl Leberecht

Immermann, Karl Leberecht

(kärl lā`bərekht ĭm`ərmän), 1796–1840, German novelist and dramatist. As a Prussian official in Düsseldorf he was active in the local theater, writing and directing many plays, mostly historical tragedies. Most are forgotten today, but his novels remain famous. The semiautobiographical novel Die Epigonen [men born too late] (3 vol., 1836), reminiscent of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, describes the decay of the old social structure and the rise of industrial society, which Immermann deplored. Der Oberhof (separately pub. 1863), an episode of the satire Münchhausen (4 vol., 1838–39), is considered the best description of peasant life written before the period of realism.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Immermann, Karl Leberecht

 

Born Apr. 24, 1796, in Magdeburg; died Aug. 25, 1840, in Düsseldorf. German writer, playwright, and theater figure.

Immermann received a legal education. In 1822 he was first published, as a poet and playwright. In 1832 he organized a theater in Düsseldorf (in operation until 1837), in which he staged the best works of world and German drama. Immermann strove to create a sense of ensemble among individual actors; he asserted the director’s importance as the ideological and artistic interpreter of a play and paid great attention to crowd scenes. He elaborated his Rules, in which he defined the actor’s responsibilities, and he was the author of studies on the theater.

Immermann’s literary works included the collection Poems (1822), the tragedy Cardenio and Celinde (1826), the dramatic trilogy, drawn from Russian history, Alexis (1833), and the novel The Epignones (1836), in which he depicted the ruin of gentry estates caused by capitalism. The novel Münchhausen (1838; Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1931–32) is a vigorous satire on German absolutism and the gentry. In the character of Baron Münchhausen, which had already been portrayed by R. E. Raspe, Immermann described a contemporary type of ignoble German aristocrat, a character who boasts of his fantastic “deeds” in hunting and in war. Immermann also wrote Memoirs (1840–43). Immermann’s literary work was a transition between romanticism and critical realism.

WORKS

Werke, vols. 1–20. Berlin [1883].
Werke, vols. 1–5. Leipzig, 1906.

REFERENCES

Engels, F. “‘Vospominaniia’ Immermana.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Ob iskusstve, vol. 2. Moscow, 1967.
Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1966.
Linzer, M. Die Düsseldorfer Musterbühne: Karl Immermanns theatralische Sendung. [Heidenau (Saxony), 1955.]
Wiese, B. von. K. Immermann: Sein Werk und sein Leben. [Bad Homburg et al. 1969.]

I. IA. NOVODVORSKAIA and A. V. MIKHAJLOV

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