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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 111 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHANN JAKOB BODMER (1698-1783), Swiss-German author, was born at Greifensee, near Zurich, on the 19th of July 1698. After first studying theology and then trying a commercial career, he finally found his vocation in letters. In 1725 he was appointed professor of Helvetian history in Zurich, a chair which he held for half a century, and in 1735 became a member of the " Grosser Rat." He published (1721-1723), in conjunction with J. J. Breitinger (1701—1794) and several others, Die Discourse der Mahlern, a weekly journal after the model of the Spectator. Through his prose translation of Milton's Paradise Lost (1732) and his successful endeavours to make a knowledge of English literature accessible to Germany, he aroused the hostile criticism of Gottsched (q.v.) and his school, a struggle which ended in the complete discomfiture of the latter. His most important writings are the treatises Von dem Wunderbaren in der Poesie (1740) and Kritische Betrachtungen caber die poetischen Gemalde der Dichter (1741), in which he pleaded for the freedom of the imagination from the restriction imposed upon it by French pseudo-classicism. Bodmer's epics Die Sundfluth (1751) and Noah (1751) are weak imitations of Klopstock's Messias, and his plays are entirely deficient in dramatic qualities. He did valuable service to German literature by his editions of the Minnesingers and part of the Nibelungenlied. He died at Zurich on the and of January 1783. See T. W. Danzel, Gottsched and seine Zeit (Leipzig, 1848) ; J. Cruger, J. C. Gottsched, Bodmer and Breitinger (Stuttgart, 1884) ; F. Braitmaier, Geschichte der poetischen Theorie and Kritik von den Diskursen der Maler bis auf Lessing (Leipzig, 1888) ; Denkschrift zu Bodmers 200. Geburtstag (Zurich, 1900).
End of Article: JOHANN JAKOB BODMER (1698-1783)

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