Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Born Today October 4: Jeremias Gotthelf


Writer Jeremias Gotthelf was born Albert Bitzius in the Swiss town of Murten into a family of the church.  His father was a pastor.  In 1804 the family moved to the small village of Utzendorf, where his education began.  In 1812, he moved to Bern to complete his education, where he, in 1819, became a founding member of the Student Society Zofingig--it is the second oldest fraternity in Switzerland. In 1820, he became a pastor--the professional that he would remain in for the remainder of his life.  He began writing later in life, publishing under the carefully held pen name of Jeremias Gotthelf, who, it was contended, was a real person--though this is probably not the case.  His best known work is Die schwarze Spinne (The Black Spider), an allegorical fantasy horror tale involving a story of the plague told through the vehicle of a monster who has made a pact with the devil.  It is this work that we are concerned with here in regards to silent film.  In 1921 the German film company Turma Film made a film based the novella that was released on the 8th of August. The page for it on IMDb can be found here.  The most recent version of this story (and apparently the most recent film based on his work) came in 1983, with a Swiss production company, IMDb page here.  Bitzius (aka Gotthelf) died in the Swiss town of Lützeflüh on the 22nd of October in 1854, leaving behind a large influential ecclesiastical philosophy in the German speaking regions of Switzerland.  He was 52 years of age.  He is buried in the town cemetery there.

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