Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand

Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand

(kôn`rät fĕr`dēnänt mī`ər), 1825–98, Swiss poet and novelist. He studied history and art and later turned to literature. He is best known for his historical novellas, which are marked by a feeling for the spirit of past ages, keen psychological insight, and deep concern for ethical problems. Among these works are Das Amulett (1873), Jürg Jenatsch (1876), Der Heilige (1880; tr. Thomas à Becket the Saint, 1885), and Die Hochzeit des Mönchs (1884; tr. The Monk's Wedding, 1887). Meyer's verse, like his prose, dealt mainly with Renaissance themes, but its underlying symbolism made it a link between classical and impressionistic poetry.


See translations by G. F. Folkers (2 vol., 1976); studies by H. Henel (1954) and T. Lanne (1983).

Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand


Born Oct. 11, 1825, in Zürich; died Nov. 28, 1898, in Kilchberg. Swiss writer. Wrote in German.

Meyer came from an old patrician family and was educated as a historian and philologist. He made his literary debut with the collection Twenty Ballads (1864). His dramatic poem Hutten’s Last Days (1871) was imbued with antidespotic sentiments and contained qualities typical of his works in general: a realistic attitude toward life, subtle psychological insights, and integrity of world perception. In his historical novel Jürg Jenatsch (1876; Russian translation, 1918), Meyer depicted the rise and fall of an enterprising burgher cast into the midst of the struggle for liberation in 17th-century Switzerland. His short stories “The Saint” (1880) and “Plautus in the Nunnery” (1882) were evocations of strong characters from the distant past. Meyer was able to capture the spirit of the era he was describing. In his late short stories, including “Angela Borgia” (1891), his penchant for depicting spiritual torments and death increased. Meyer’s works were highly esteemed by M. Gorky and A. V. Lunacharskii.


Sämtliche Werke: Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, vols. 1, 2, 3, 8, 10–14. Edited by H. Zeller and A. Zach. Bern, 1958–70.
In Russian translation:
Lirika. Translated by A. V. Lunacharskii. Petrograd, 1920.
Sviatoi. Preface by M. Gorky. Petrograd, 1922.
Novelly. Stikhotvoreniia. Introduction by A. A. Gozenpud. Moscow, 1958.


Samarin, R. M. “K. F. Meier.” In Literatura Shveitsarii. Moscow, 1969.
Hohenstein, L. C. F. Meyer. Bonn, 1957.
Brunei, G. C. F. Meyer et la nouvelle. Paris, 1967. (With bibliography, pp. 537–57.)


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