The Correspondence of Martin Opitz (110 letters)

Primary Contributors:

Cultures of Knowledge


Portrait of Martin Opitz, by Bartholomäus Strobel. 1636–7. Oil on canvas, 116 by 93cm. (Library of Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow; source of image: Wikimedia Commons)

Martin Opitz (1597–1639)

The German poet and translator Martin Opitz was born on 23 December 1597 in the Silesian town of Bunzlau [now Bolesławiec]. He studied at the universities of Frankfurt-on-Oder (1618), Heidelberg (1619), and Leiden (1620). In his earliest treatise, Aristarchus sive de contemptu linguae Teutonicae (1617), Opitz championed the German language, maintaining its vernacular literature could rival that of all other European languages, and over the following two decades he paved the way for a national literature that drew on established classical, Neo-Latin, and vernacular forms whilst aspiring to move beyond them.

In 1624 Opitz was appointed councillor to George Rudolf of Liegnitz [now Legnica] and Brieg [now Brzeg], and the following year, as a reward for his poetic condolence composed upon the death of Charles of Austria, Prince-Bishop of Breslau [now Wrocław], he was crowned poet laureate by Ferdinand II; subsequently the Emperor honoured him with the title of Opitz von Boberfeld. Opitz was elected in 1629 to the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, a literary society established twelve years previously to reform the German language, and in 1630 he travelled to Paris, where he met Hugo Grotius and members of the Dupuy circle (including Jacques August de Thou).

Amongst Opitz’s most renowned literary translations are that of Philip Sidney’s Arcadia and John Barclay’s Argenis. For the final five years his life he lived and worked in Danzig [now Gdańsk], where he died, in 1639, of plague.

 


Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for the beginnings of a calendar for the correspondence of Martin Opitz has been taken from the invaluable inventory compiled by Monica Estermann (for further details, please see below). Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank EMLO Digital Fellows Lucy Hennings for her work to prepare this metadata for upload and Charlotte Marique for her assistance in compiling the bibliography.

 


Key Bibliographic Source(s)

Monika Estermann, Verzeichnis der gedruckten Briefe deutscher Autoren des 17. Jahrhunderts, part 1, 4 vols (Wiesbaden, 1992–3), vol. 3, pp. 891–5.

 

Buchner, August, Cl. viri Augusti Buchneri epistolae. Opus posthumum. Cum Privilegio Electoris Saxoniae (Dresden, 1679).

Buchner, August, Cl. viri Augusti Buchneri epistolae. Opus posthumum. Editio secunda. Cum Privilegio, 2 vols (Dresden, 1680), vol. 2.

Colerus, Christoph, Laudatio honori & memoriae … Martini Opitii paulo post obitum ejus a. 1639 in actu apud Vratislavienses publico solenniter dicta a Christophoro Colero (Leipzig, 1665).

Gottsched, Johann Christoph, Beyträge zur critischen Historie der deutschen Sprache, Poesie und Beredsamkeit, herausgegeben von einigen Liebhabern der deutschen Litteratur. Siebenter Band. Fünf und zwanzigstes Stück (Leipzig, 1741).

Groot, Hugo de, Hugonis Grotii … epistolae quotquot reperiri potuerunt; in quibus praeter hactenus editas, plurimae theologici, …, & politici argumenti occurrunt (Amsterdam, 1687).

Heumann, Christoph August, Christophori Augusti Heumanni poecile sive epistolae miscellaneae ad literatissimos aevi nostri viros accedit exhibens dissertationes argumenti rarioris, 3 vols (Halle an der Saale, 1722–32), vol. 2.

Lindner, Kaspar Gottlieb, Umständliche Nachricht von des weltberühmten Schlesiers, Martin Opitz von Boberfeld, Leben, Tode und Schriften, … Herausgegeben von D. Kaspar Gottlieb Lindnern …, 2 vols (Hirschberg, 1740–1).

Opitz, Martin, Martini Opitii acht Bücher, deutscher Poematum durch ihn selber herausgegeben auch also vermehret unnd übersehen das die vorigen darmitte nicht zu vergleichen sindt (Wrocław, 1625).

Opitz, Martin, Magnorum quondam eruditissimorumque virorum Epistolae ad Martinum Opitium (Danzig, 1670).

Reinesius, Thomas, Thomae Reinesii & Jo. Andr. Bosi…epistolae mutuae varia philologica & historica complexae quas e scriniis B. Casp. Sagittarii … publicae luci dat Jo. Andr. Schmidius, … (Jena, 1700).

Rist, Johann, Johannis Ristii, … Lob-Trawr- und Klag-Gedicht über gar zu frühzeitiges jedoch seliges Absterben des … Martin Opitzen (Hamburg, 1640).

Tscherning, Andreas, Andreas Tschernings unvorgreiffliches Bedencken über etliche Mißbräuche in der deutschen Schreib- und Sprach-Kunst (Lübeck, 1659).

Vossius, Gerhard Johann, Gerardi Joan. Vossii et clarorum virorum ad eum epistolae. Collectore Paulo Colomesio …, 2 vols (London, 1690), vol. 2.


Scope of Catalogue

The calendar contains basic metadata for 110 letters collated from a selection of epistolaries (for further details, please see the section, above, on bibliographic sources). The letters span the years from 1620 to 1639, the year of Opitz’s death.

 

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