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Jean Paul

Wunsiedel 1763 - Bayreuth 1825


The German poet Jean Paul, whose original name was Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, was born in Wunsiedel, in the Fichtelgebirge region of Germany, as the son of an organist, teacher and priest on March 21, 1763. His father died when he was 15, leaving the family in severe financial distress.
At that time Jean Paul had already acquired a large knowledge from books, which he wrote down in collections of excerpts.
In 1779 Jean Paul attended grammar school in Hof, where he lived with his grandparents. From 1781 to 1784 he read theology and philosophy in Leipzig.
At the same time he experimented with literature, seeing himself more as a writer and beginning to neglect his studies. He wrote satires in the tradition of Jonathan Swift and Ludwig Lisow, which were published in collected form as "Grönländische Prozesse" in 1783. He had to interrupt his studies for financial reasons and from 1790 to 1794 worked as a teacher at an elementary school he had set up in Schwarzenbach.
In 1793 Jean Paul had his first success as a writer. His novel "Die unsichtbare Loge" amazed the author Karl Philipp Moritz and was published in Berlin. Further works followed.
His novel "Hesperus", which was published in 1795, made the young poet Jean Paul famous overnight. His subsequent success gave Paul independence and lead to him being respected and welcomed in literary circles of his time.
From 1798 to 1800 he lived in Weimar, where he met writers like Goethe, Herder and Schiller. In spring 1800 Jean Paul met Karoline Meyer on a trip to Berlin, whom he married a year later.
Until 1803 Jean Paul worked as a legation councilor in Meiningen and subsequently in Coburg. One year later he moved to Bayreuth with his wife and two children, where he lived a secluded life. During this time he traveled to Bamberg, visited E. T A. Hoffmann and traveled to Heidelberg, where he received an honorary doctorate upon the suggestion of the philosopher Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel.
In 1824 Jean Paul lost his sight and on November 14, 1825 he died in Bayreuth.


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