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Johann Fischart


FISCHART, JOHANN (c. 1545-159r), German satirist and publicist, was born, probably at Strasbourg, about 1545, and was educated at Worms in the house of Kaspar Scheid, whom in the preface to his Eulenspiegel he mentions as his "cousin and preceptor." After travelling extensively he returned to take the degree of doctor iuris at Basel. From 1575 to 1581 he appears to have been associated in the business of his sister's husband, Bernhard Jobin, the Strasbourg printer. In 1581 Fischart was attached, as advocate to the imperial court of appeal at Spires, and in 1583, when he married, was appointed magistrate at Forbach near Saarbriicken. Here he died in the winter of 1 S9o 91. Fischart wrote under various feigned names, such as Menzer, Reznem, Huldrich Elloposkleros, Jesuwalt Pickhart, Winhold Alkofribas Wustblutus, Ulrich Mansehr von Treubach and Im Fischen Gilt's Mischen. More than 5o satirical works, both in prose and verse, are ascribed to him, of which the most famous is A ff entheuerliche and ungeheuerliche Geschichtschri f t vom Leben, Rhaten and Thaten der . . . Helden and Herren Grand gusier Gargantoa and Pantagruel 0575), an imitation of Rabelais, which appeared again in 1577 under the modified title Naupen gelieurliche Geschichtklitterung.

Fischart had studied not only the ancient literatures, but also those of Italy, France, the Netherlands and England. He was a lawyer, a theologian, a satirist and the most powerful Protestant publicist of the counter-reformation period ; in politics he was a republican. Above all, he was a master of language, and was inde fatigable with his pen. His satire was levelled mercilessly at all perversities in the public and private life of his time—at astro logical superstition, scholastic pedantry, ancestral pride, but especially at the papal dignity and the lives of the priesthood and the Jesuits. He indulged in the wildest witticisms, the most abandoned caricature; but all with a serious purpose. As a poet, he is characterized by the eloquence and picturesqueness of his style and his symbolical language. Thirty years after Fischart's death his writings, once so popular, were almost entirely f or gotten. Recalled to the public attention by Bodmer and Lessing, his position in German literature is now fully assured.

Among Fischart's other works St. Dominici des Prediger moncks and St. Francisci Bar f ussers artlichem Leben (1571), a poem with the expressive motto "Ye have noses and smell it not," written to defend the Protestants against certain accusations, one of which was that Luther held communion with the devil; Eulenspiegel Reimens weis (written 1 J71, published 1S72) ; Aller Praktik Grossmutter (1572) , after Rabelais's Prognostication Pantagrueline; Floh Haz, Weiber Traz (1573), in which he describes a battle between fleas and women; Das gliickhafft Schiff von Zurich (1576, republished 1828, with an introduction by Ludwig Uhland), a delightful poem com memorating the adventure of a company of Zurich arquebusiers, who sailed from their native town to Strasbourg in one day, and brought, as a proof of this feat, a kettleful of Hirsebrei (millet), which had been cooked in Zurich, still warm into Strasbourg ; Podagrammisch Trost biichlein (1577) ; Philosophisch Ehzuchtbuchlein (1578) ; the cele brated Bienenkorb des heiligen romischen Imnenschwarms, etc., a modification of the Dutch De roomsche Byen-Korf, by Philipp Marnix of St. Aldegonde, published in 1579 and reprinted in 1847 ; Der heilig Brotkorb (158o), after Calvin's Traite des reliques; Das .vierhornige Jesuiterhffatlein, a rhymed satire against the Jesuits (158o) , and a number of smaller poems.

Freiherr von Meusebach, whose valuable collection of Fischart's works has passed into the possession of the royal library in Berlin, deals in his Fischartstudien (Halle, 1879) with the great satirist. Fischart's poetical works were published by Hermann Kurz in three volumes (Leipzig, 1866-68) ; and selections by K. Goedeke (Leipzig, 1800) and by A. Hauffen in Kffirschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur (Stuttgart, 1893) . Das gliickhafft Schiff has been frequently reprinted (critical edition by J. Baechtold, 188o) . See for further biographical details, W. Wackernagel, Johann Fischart von Strassburg and Basels Anteil an ihm (2nd ed., Basel, 1875) ; A. Hauffen, Johann Fischart (vol. i., 1921) ; Leitzmann, Fischartiana (1924) •

fischarts, strasbourg, von, zurich, st, satirist and published