Richard Dehmel


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(Wendisch-Hermsdorf, 1863–1920, Blankenese), studied science at Berlin and Leipzig, and then took to journalism, devoting himself after 1895 entirely to literature. A man who needed the stimulus of discussion and argument, he associated with the brothers H. and J. Hart, O. E. Hartleben, A. Holz, and Strindberg in Berlin, and wrote revolutionary lyric poetry. He was also powerfully influenced by Nietzsche, to whom his ecstatic rhetoric may be traced. He was a close friend of Liliencron from 1891 until the latter's death in 1909. In 1914 he volunteered for the army and served as a subaltern. He published several volumes of verse (Erlösungen, 1891; Weib und Welt, 1896; Die Verwandlungen der Venus, 1907; Schöne wilde Welt, 1913) and two collections, in which stories as well as poems were included (Aber die Liebe, 1893; Lebensblätter, 1895). The cyclical epic poem Zwei Menschen (1903) is often considered his masterpiece. He wrote several plays, including the Schauspiele Der Mitmensch (1895) and Die Menschenfreunde (1917) and the comedies Michel Michael (1911) and Die Götterfamilie (posth., 1921). Dehmel's collected works were published in his lifetime as Gesammelte Werke, 10 vols., 1906–9, followed by a shorter selection with the same title, 3 vols., 1913. His autobiography, Mein Leben, appeared posthumously in 1922. His letters (Ausgewählte Briefe, 2 vols., 1922–3) are of lasting interest.

From The Oxford Companion to German Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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