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Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

*  1724 Quedlinburg
† 1803 Hamburg

The German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was born on July 2, 1724 in Quedlinburg. Klopstock received a pietistic upbringing. In Quedlinburg he attended the Gymnasium and later the Fürstenschule in Schulpforta. Klopstock studied theology in Jena, during which time he wrote his work "Messias," which he put down first in prose and later reworked into verse while in Leipzig. The performance of his "Messias" was a sensation. His first odes also appeared at this time. After finishing his studies, he worked as a tutor in Langensalza. There Klopstock fell in love with Marie-Sophie and wrote his most beautiful odes during this intense time. He's works arroused much excitement among the opponents of Gottsched, whose "Poetry of Reason" had ruled the genre until then. Klopstock affected a turn in rational poetics with his odes, and his works cleared the way for pure poetry. He went to Zurich in 1750 on the invitation of Johann Jakob Bodmer. Nine months later, he traveled to Denmark to King Frederick V. Kloppstock wroted in Denmark until 1753, working there with the support of the king. He married Margarete Moller in 1754, but she died four years later. Kloppstock, who for the next thirty years could not overcome his grief, mourned and praised her in his elegies. He married Johanna Elisabeth von Winthem from Hamburg late in life. Klopstock lived in his hometown of Quedlinburg, and Braunschweig and Halberstadt from 1756 to 1762, settling in Copenhagen in 1771. In 1773, he finally finished his "Messias" and wrote several dramas. From Copenhagen, he went to Hamburg, and, on the invitation of Margrave Karl Friedrich of Baden in 1776, Klopstock went to Karlsruhe. Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was an ingenious epicist, lyricist, and dramatist between the Baroque and Classical periods of German literature. He founded the traditions of German Irrationalism and Erlebnisdichtung (poetry of experience). He supported the French revolution, though he later distanced himself from its fanatical and tyrannical descendants. He was also an important precursor of the Storm and Stress period. Klopstock died on March 14, 1803 in Hamburg.