Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Born Today July 19: Gottfried Keller


Swiss poet Gottfried Keller was born on this day in Zurich.  Despite that his childhood was impoverished, his mother managed to provide him with a solidly happy upbringing (his father died when he was quite young).  He would later write about this is thinly veiled autobiographical novel.  The only area that seem to make him unhappy was his education; he did not like school and clashed with authorities there.  In the area of art, he first showed interest in painting; and after being expelled from Zurich over political matters, her became an apprentice to Rudolf Meyer, before setting off to Munich to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.  When he returned to Zurich in 1842 he inexplicably took up writing, publishing his first poems in 1846.  Although he is primarily remembered for his poetry today, he also wrote novels (in the style of literary realism) and short stories.  By the year 1848 he had taken up studies at the University of Heidelberg--he stayed there through 1850.  He then worked in Berlin until 1856 and it was during this period that he finally decided to devote his career aspirations solely to writing.  In 1861, upon his return to Zurich, he became First Official Secretary to the Canton of Zurich.  He retired from the position in 1876, having not produced much in way or writing during his tenure, except for a book on the early Christian era.  After his retirement, his literary out-put was greatly boosted--and this continued until his death.  Throughout his life, he had been known as a person that was hard to get along with, bad at interpersonal relationships and tended toward the anti-social.  This may be the reason he never married.  Though in his later years he softened quite a bit--living as a bachelor with his sister.  Keller died in Zurich at the age of 70 on the 15 of July--four days before his 71st birthday.  Today he is remembered in his native Switzerland with a foundation that bears his name founded in the 19th century by the daughter of one of Keller's patrons.  He is buried in the Friedhof Sihlfeld in Zurich.  He is included here due to one lone silent film that was released in 1927 and was based on some of his stories--Regine, die Tragödie einer Frau was a German film released in May of 1928.  All the rest of the films based on his work have come during the sound era.  The first of these is Regine (1935) a remake of the silent work by the same German director Erich Waschneck.  Almost all of the films made from his work have come out of Germany; the most recent is a made for television film entitled Ich gehöre dir in 2002. 

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