1001 Reads

Regularly updated blog charting the most important novels of the last 2000 and something years

Monday, December 29, 2008

19. Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen - Simplicius Simplicissimus (Die Abentheuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch) (1668)


I am so behind on this blog it's not even funny, I read this a long time ago already, but I promise to try to update this more often in order to catch up to where I am right now. At the moment I am finishing A Sentimental Journey by Sterne, and that is over a century after this.

Simplicissimus is a delightful book however, and I can highly recommend it. The story is comparable to that of other picaresque novels of the time, particularly with Lazarillo de Tormes. It follows the life of an apparently simple-minded German boy who quickly reveals himself to be much smarter than anyone gives him credit for.

Parts of the novel are sheer delights, Simplicissimus' description of the house where he is born at the beginning of the book is one of these moments, but then the whole story develops in a great way, charting historical and political developments of the time. It often reminded me of Umberto Eco's Baudolino and that is high praise indeed.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Inspired by the events and horrors of the Thirty Years' War which had devastated Germany from 1618 to 1648, it is regarded as the first adventure novel in the German language. It contains autobiographic elements, inspired by Grimmelshausen's experience in the war. The historian Robert Ergang, however, draws upon Gustav K├Ânnecke's Quellen und Forschungen zur Lebensgeschichte Grimmelshausens to convey the assertion that "the events related in the novel Simplicissimus could hardly have been autobiographical since [Grimmelshausen] lived a peaceful existence in quiet towns and villages on the fringe of the Black Forest and that the material he incorporated in his work was not taken from actual experience, but was either borrowed from the past, collected from hearsay, or created by a vivid imagination.

Trailer for the Operatic version of the book:


  • At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I'm on the last few pages of the book right now & I'm trying to find someone to discuss this great book with. Perhaps you'd be interested?


  • At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've read it three times... It's like no other.


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