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Hebel, Johann Peter

HEBEL, JOHANN PETER (1760-1826), German poet and popular writer, was born at Basel on the loth of May 1760. The father dying when the child was little over a year old, he was brought up amidst poverty-stricken conditions in the village of Hausen in the Wiesental, where he received his earliest education. Being of brilliant promise, he found friends who enabled him to complete his school education and to study theology (1778-1780) at Erlangen. At the end of his university course he was for a time a private tutor, then became teacher at the Gymnasium in Karlsruhe, and in 1808 was appointed director of the school. He was subsequently appointed member of the Consistory and " evangelical prelate." He died at Schwetzingen, near Heidelberg, on the 22nd of September 1826. Hebel is one of the most widely read of all German popular poets and writers. His poetical narratives and lyric poems, written in the " Alemanic" dialect, are " popular " in the best sense. His Allemannische Gedichte (1803) " bucolicize," in the words of Goethe, " the whole world in the most attractive manner " (verbauert das ganze Universum auf die anmuligste Weise). Indeed, few modern German poets surpass him in fidelity, naivete, humour, and in the freshness and vigour of his descriptions. His poem, Die Wiese, has been described by Johannes Scherr as the " pearl of German idyllic poetry"; while his prose writings, especially the narratives and essays contained in the Schatzkastlein des rheinischen Hausfreundes (Tubingen, 1811; new edition, Stuttg. 1869, 1888), belong to the best class of German stories, and according to August Friedrich Christian Vilmar (1800-1868) in his Geschichte der deutschen Lileratur are " worth more than a cartload of novels " (wiegen ein ganzes Fuder Romane auf). Memorials have been erected to him at Karlsruhe, Basel and Schwetzingen.

A complete edition of Hebel's works Samtliche Werke was first published at Stuttgart in 8 vols. (1832-1834); subsequent editions appeared in 1847 (3 vols.), 1868 (2 vols.), 1873 (edited by G. Wendt, 2 vols.), 1883-1885 (edited by O. Behaghel, 2 vols.) and 1905 (edited by E. Keller, 5 vols.), as well as innumerable reprints. Hebel's correspondence has been edited by O. Behaghel (1883). See G. Langin, J. P. Hebel, ein Lebensbild (1894), and the introduction to Behaghel's edition.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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