Johann Kaspar Lavater

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lavater, Johann Kaspar


Born Nov. 15, 1741, in Zürich; died there Jan. 2, 1801. Swiss writer. Wrote in German.

Lavater studied theology and was a minister in Zürich. He is the author of the collection of verses Swiss Songs (1767) and of many works of a religious nature, including the novel Pontius Pilate, or The Small Bible (1782–85), the drama Abraham and Isaac (1776), and the collections of verse Two Hundred Christian Songs (1780) and Poetry (1781). His work, only superficially related to Sturm und Drang, was full of superstitions and irrational tendencies. In the philosophical work Physiognomical Fragments for Encouraging Knowledge and Love of Man (1775–78), Lavater tried to establish a connection between the spiritual nature of man and the structure and outlines of his skull and face.


Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1–6. Augsburg-Lindau, 1834–38.
Ausgewählte Schriften, vols. 1–8. Zürich, 1841–44.
In Russian translation:
Nastavleniia (nravouchitel’nye) slugam. St. Petersburg, 1799.


Muncker, F. J. K. Lavater. Stuttgart, 1883.
Funck, H. J. W. Goethe und Lavater. Weimar, 1907.
Vömel, A. J. K. Lavater, 1741–1801: Ein Lebensbild, 2nd ed. Neukirchen, 1927.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
His colleagues firmly disagree: "You're a crazy man with crazy hair." Schrauwen here satirizes the ancient pseudoscience of physiognomy (re-popularized in the eighteenth century by Johann Kaspar Lavater), which held that signs of character could be read in the features of the face and head.
The science of physiognomy, especially the writings of Johann Kaspar Lavater was crucial, Wegenstein notes, in establishing this connection in later-day (18th-century) Europe as well.
JOHANN KASPAR LAVATER (1741-1801), a Swiss pastor and a friend of Goethe, breathed new life into the subject.
(2) Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), promoter of physiognomy, the study of the character based on facial features, considered silhouettes as poor but accurate representations, reduced to their simplest expression, albeit objectively true.
In the system of Johann Kaspar Lavater, Austen's contemporary who was a well known writer regarding physiognomy, blue eyes frequently indicated "persons of phlegmatic character," but could also point to a person with retiring feminine qualities--like Harriet Smith (Lavater 14).
A voice-over, this time with a pronounced Germanic accent, discusses the relationships and rivalries between Swiss theologian and poet Johann Kaspar Lavater, who is now remembered only for his disreputed book on physiognomy, which brought him transient popularity in the eighteenth century when these theories took hold.
Through his correspondence, Kirn traces Ewald's movement from neologism to Wurttemburg-style Pietism mediated in part through his contact with Johann Kaspar Lavater, Philipp Matthaus Hahn, and J.
He ridiculed Johann Kaspar Lavater's science of physiognomy, and Johann Heinrich Voss's views on Greek pronunciation called forth the powerful satire Uber die Pronunciation der Schopse des alten Griechenlandes (1782; "On the Pronunciation of the Muttonheads of Old Greece").