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Author Information: Karl Philipp Moritz



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Karl Philipp Moritz was born at Hamelin, in north Germany, in 1756. He has an impoverished and unhappy childhood. After being briefly apprenticed to a hatter, he received charitable help, which enabled him to attend grammar school, but he ran away in vain hope of becoming an actor. Instead he became a teacher, initially at Dessau under the educational reformer J. B. Basedow and later as deputy headmaster of a school in Berlin. He also took up editorial work and journalism, publishing the important psychological journal Magazin fur Erfahrungsseelenkunde (1783-93). His play, Blunt, oder der Gast (1781), founded the genre of fate tregedy. Anton Reiser his most important and heavily autobiographical novel, was published in four volumes, the first appearing in 1785, the second and third in 1786 and the last in 1790. In 1786 moritz gave up his teaching positino and went to Italy, where he became a friend of Goethe. Starting with Versuch einer deutscher Prosodie (1786), which Goethe admired, he wrote a series of important works on classical aesthetics, notable Uber die bildende Nachahmung des Schonen (1788) and Gotterlehre oder Mythologische Dichtungen der Alten, a study of greek mythology (1791). He also published accounts of his travels in England (1783) and Italy (1792-3). In 1789 he was appointed to the Berlin Academy of Arts. After a short and unhappy marriage, he died of tuberculosis in 1793.


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