Treasure Island

Carl Spitteler

(1845-1929 / Switzerland)

Biography of Carl Spitteler

Carl Spitteler poet

Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (24 April 1845 — 29 December 1924) was a Swiss poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1919. His work includes both pessimistic and heroical poems.

Spitteler was born in Liestal, and from 1863 he studied law at the University of Zurich. In 1865-1870 he studied theology in the same institution, at Heidelberg and Basel. Later he worked in Russia as tutor, starting from August 1871, remaining there (with some periods in Finland) until 1879. Later he was elementary teacher in Bern and La Neuveville, as well as journalist for the Der Kunstwart and as editor for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

In 1881 Spitteler published the allegoric prose poem Prometheus and Epimetheus, published under the pseudonym Carl Felix Tandem, and showing contrasts between ideals and dogmas through the two mythological figures of the titles; later he reworked it and published it under his true name, with the title Prometheus der Dulder (Prometheus the Sufferer, 1924). This work later influenced Carl Gustav Jung's theories explained in his Psychological Types. In 1883 he married Marie op der Hoff, previously his pupil in Neuveville.

In 1900-1905 Spitteler wrote the powerful allegoric-epic poem, in iambic hexameters, Olympischer Frühling (Olympic Spring). This work, mixing fantastic, naturalistic, religions and mythological themes, deals with human concern towards universe. His prose works include Die Mädchenfeinde (Two Little Misogynists, 1907), about his autobiographical childhood experiences, the dramatic Conrad der Leutnant (1898), in which he show influence from the previously opposed Naturalism, and the autobiographical novella Imago (1906), examining the role of unconscious in the conflict between a creative mind and the middle-class restrictions.

During World War I he opposed to the pro-German attitude of the Swiss German-speaking majority, a position put forward in the essay "Unser Schweizer Standpunkt". In 1919 he won the Nobel Prize. Spitteler died at Lucerne in 1924.

Carl Spitteler's Works:

* Prometheus und Epimetheus (1881)
* Extramundana (1883, seven cosmic myths)
* Schmetterlinge ("Butterflies", 1889)
* Der Parlamentär (1889)
* Literarische Gleichnisse (“Literary Parables”, 1892)
* Gustav (1892)
* Balladen (1896)
* Conrad der Leutnant (1898)
* Lachende Wahrheiten (1898, essays)
* Der olympische Frühling (1900–1905, revised 1910)
* Glockenlieder (“Grass and Bell Songs", 1906)
* Imago (1906, novel)
* Die Mädchenfeinde ( Two Little Misogynists, 1907)
* Meine frühesten Erlebnisse (“My Earliest Experiences", 1914, biographical)
* Prometheus der Dulder (“Prometheus the Suffering”, 1924)

PoemHunter.com Updates

Der Wanderer

Flaumflocken flüstern vom Himmel leis.
Ein Wandrer steigt über Firn und Eis.
Die Schneefrau folgt ihm mit tückischem Schritt:

'Halt stille, mein Lieber, und nimm mich mit!
Der Abend ist nah, und der Gipfel ist fern.
Ich spiel Dir zur Kurzweil ein Liedchen gern.'

Sie setzt an die Lippe die grüne Schalmei,

[Hata Bildir]