Julian Schmidt

* 07.03.1818 in Marienwerder; ✝ 27.03.1886 in Berlin

Scholar, Journalist



Schmidt studied history and philology in Königsberg, and after having gained his degree in 1840 became a schoolteacher in the same town. A year later, however, he moved to the Royal Luisenstädt School in Berlin. In 1847 he moved once again, this time to Leipzig, where he wholly dedicated himself to journalism and his literary-critical works. In 1848 he and Gustav Freytag took over the editorship of the Leipzig newspaper Die Grenzboten, which under their guidance became a vehicle for moderate liberalism and literary realism. In later years Schmidt worked on the Berliner Allgemeine Zeitung, before finally retiring on a pension authorized by Wilhelm I.

Yet, it was his literary-historical works which were to make his name: the Geschichte der deutschen Nationalliteratur im 19. Jahrhundert (1853), in particular, was reprinted many times. Schmidt’s criterion was always that of realism: the artist’s capturing of the universe was more important than self-expression. He was disdainful of Romantic literature and the politically aspirational writing of the ‘Vormärz’ period.

In line with these literary proclivities he honoured Shakespeare as the great poet of realism and Protestantism. He dedicated a chapter of his Geschichte der Romantik (1848) to him – entitled ‘Der Protestantismus in der Poesie’ –  and the ‘Fragmente über Shakespeare’ (1873) goes so far as to present the playwright as ‘the representative of the German protestant spirit’ (p. 74) Schmidt’s influence on Germany literary opinion and the culturally active middle class is still a controversial topic today.



Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Schmidt, Julian, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: http://www.shakespearealbum.de/uri/gnd/11875968X. (Accessed on 26.09.2023)

This text is published under the following licence: CC BY-ND 3.0 DE. Digitzed media reproduced with the permission of the library of Birmingham.

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