History of Literature

German literature


Ludwig Borne

Karl Ludwig Börne (6 May 1786 – 12 February 1837) was a German political writer and satirist.


He was born Loeb Baruch at Frankfurt am Main, son of Jakob Baruch, a banker. He received his early education at Gießen, but as Jews were ineligible at that time for public appointments in Frankfurt, young Baruch was sent to study medicine at Berlin under a physician, Markus Herz, whose house he lived in. Young Baruch became infatuated by his patron's wife, the talented and beautiful Henriette Herz (1764–1847), and expressed his adoration in a series of remarkable letters. Tiring of medical science, which he had subsequently pursued at Halle, he studied constitutional law and political science at Heidelberg and Giessen, and in 1811 took his doctor's degree at Giessen university. On his return to Frankfurt, now constituted as a grand duchy under the sovereignty of the prince bishop Karl von Dalberg, he received (1811) the appointment of police actuary in that city.

In 1814 and he had to resign his post due to his ethnicity. Embittered by the oppression suffered by Jews in Germany, he took to journalism and edited the Frankfurt liberal newspapers Staatsristretto and Die Zeitschwingen.

In 1818 he converted to Lutheran Protestantism, changing his name from Lob Baruch to Ludwig Börne. From 1818 to 1821 he edited Die Wage, a paper distinguished by its lively political articles and its powerful but sarcastic theatrical criticisms. This paper was suppressed by the police, and in 1821 Börne took a pause from journalismn and led a quiet life in Paris, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

After the July Revolution (1830), he hurried to Paris, expecting to find society nearer to his own ideas of freedom. Although to some extent disappointed in his hopes, he did not look any more kindly on the political condition of Germany; this lent additional zest to the brilliant satirical letters (Briefe aus Paris, 1830–1833, published Paris, 1834), which he began to publish in his last literary venture, La Balance, a revival of Die Wage. The Briefe aus Paris was Börne's most important publication, and a landmark in the history of German journalism. Its appearance led him to be regarded as a leading thinker in Germany. He died in Paris in 1837.

Börne's works are known for brilliant style and for thoroughly French satire. His best criticism is to be found in his Denkrede auf Jean Paul (1826), a writer for whom he had warm sympathy and admiration; in his Dramaturgische Bltter (1829–1834); and the witty satire, Menzel der Franzosenfresser (1837). He also wrote a number of short stories and sketches, of which the best known are the Mono graphie der deutschen Postschnecke (1829) and Der Esskunstler (1822).



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