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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Heyse, Paul Johann Ludwig

HEYSE, PAUL JOHANN LUDWIG (1830-), German novelist, dramatist and poet, was born at Berlin on the 15th of March 1830, the son of the distinguished philologist Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse (1797-1855). After attending the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Berlin, he went, in 1849, to Bonn University as a student of the Romance languages, and in 1852 took his doctor's degree. He had already given proof of great literary ability in the production in 1850 of Der Jungbrunnen, Märchen eines fahrenden Schülers and of the tragedy Francesca von Rimini, when after a year's stay in Italy, he was summoned, early in 1854, by King Maximilian II. to Munich, where he subsequently lived. Here he turned his attention to novel-writing. He published at Munich in 1855 four short stories in one volume, one of which, at least, L'Arrabbiata, was a masterpiece of its kind. These were the precursors of a series of similar volumes, necessarily unequal at times, but on the whole constituting such a mass of highly complex miniature fiction as seldom before had proceeded from the pen of a single writer. Heyse works in the spirit of a sculptor; he seizes upon some picturesque incident or situation, and chisels and polishes until all the effect which it is capable of producing has been extracted from it. The success of the story usually depends upon the theme, for the artist's skill is generally much the same, and the situation usually leaves a deeper impression than the characters. Heyse is also the author of several novels on a larger scale, all of which have gained success and provoked abundant discussion. The more important are Kinder der Welt (1873), Im Paradiese (1875)—the one dealing with the religious and social problems of its time, the other with artist-life in Munich—Der Roman der Stiftsdame (1888), and Merlin (1892), a novel directed against the modern realistic movement of which Heyse had been the leading opponent in Germany. He has also been a prolific dramatist, but his plays are deficient in theatrical qualities and are rarely seen on the stage. Among the best of them are Die Sabinerinnen (1859); Hans Lange (1866), Kolberg (1868), Die Weisheit Salomos (1886), and Maria von Magdala (1903). There are masterly translations by him of Leopardi, Giusti, and other Italian poets (Italienische Dichter seit der Mitte des 18ten Jahrhundert) (4 vols., 1889-1890).

Heyse's Gesammelte Werke appeared in 29 vols. (1897-1899); there is also a popular edition of his Romane (8 vols., 1902-1904) and Novellen (10 vols., 1904-1906). See his autobiography, Jugenderinnerungen und Bekenntnisse (1901); also O. Kraus, Paul Heyses Novellen und Romane (1888); E. Petzet, Paul Heyse als Dramatiker (1904), and the essays by T. Ziegler (in Studien und Studienköpfe, 1877), and G. Brandes (in Moderne Geister, 1887).