Johann Peter Hebel
Just six months younger than Schiller and ten years older than Hölderlin, Johann Peter Hebel (1760–1826) was never part of the literary circles in Jena or Tübingen. As an intelligent child from a small village near Basel, he received a good education, going on to study theology, and subsequently devising his own form of Enlightenment and Romanticism. Heide Helwig recounts the life story of this poet, who composed the Baden national epic with his Allemannische Gedichte (Alemanic Poems), and later transformed a farmers’ almanac into world literature in Rheinländische Hausfreund (Rhenish Family Friend). The list of his admirers ranges from Goethe to Jean Paul, from Brecht to Bloch, and from Kafka to Canetti. Drawing on unpublished testimonials from contemporaries and supported by the latest research, Heide Helwig uses great narrative charm to piece together a picture of a man who was by no means without fault, as vividly illustrated by Hebel’s wonderfully colourful letters. Anything but plucky in matters of the heart, he was chronically overstretched by honourable commissions and caught between Enlightenment and Biedermeier, between French Revolution and wars of liberation.