Wieland, Christoph Martin

Wieland, Christoph Martin

(krĭs`tôf mär`tĭn vē`länt), 1733–1813, German poet and novelist. His style, typical of the German rococo, is elegant, satiric, and often playful. He borrowed subjects from classical antiquity as well as from fairy tales. A political novel, Der goldene Spiegel [the golden mirror] (1772), won him employment as a tutor to the princes of Saxe-Weimar. His Geschichte des Agathon (1766, tr. The History of Agathon, 1773) is an early psychological novel; Die Abderiten (1774, tr. The Republic of Fools, 1861) is his best-known political satire. Wieland's verse narratives include Musarion (1768) and a noted fairy-tale epic, Oberon (1780, tr. 1798; by John Quincy Adams, 1799). He edited the influential literary journal Teutsche Merkur (1773–1810) and, with his translations of Shakespeare, helped to pave the way for future literary developments in Germany.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wieland, Christoph Martin


Born Sept. 5, 1733, in Oberholzheim, near Biberach; died Jan. 20, 1813, in Weimar. German writer. A pastor’s son.

Wieland studied at the University of Tubingen. He published didactic religious narrative poems, including The Trial of Abraham (1753). In 1772 he became tutor to the future Duke Charles Augustus in Weimar, where he published the magazine Der Deutsche Merkur (1773-1810). In poking fun at both sentimental daydreaming and moral asceticism, Wieland contributed to the rococo literature of the aristocratic salon. His Agathon (1766; Russian translation, 1783-84) was the first example in Germany of the Enlightenment ’’novel of education.” His satirical novel The Abderites (1774; Russian translation, 1832-40) and his narrative poemMusarion (1768) are set in ancient Greece. Wieland’s best work is his fantastic narrative poem Oberon (1780; Russian translation, 1787). Wieland’s philistine trust in the final victory of“common sense” and his role as court poet made him a target of ridicule by the Sturm und Drang writers, notably Goethe, and later by H. Heine. However, his translations of Lucian and Shakespeare were of progressive significance for the development of German culture.


Sümtliche Werke, vols. 1-53. Leipzig, 1818-29.


Reiman, P. Osnovnye techeniia v nemetskoi literature, 1750-1848. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from German.)
Sengle, F. Wieland. Stuttgart, 1949.
Hecker, J. Wieland…. Weimar, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.