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Simplicissimus

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  826 ratings  ·  46 reviews
This gaudy, wild, and raw tale of a war-torn 17th Century Europe depicts Simplicissimus as the eternal innocent, the simple-minded survivor. We follow him from an orphaned childhood to the casual atrocities of occupying troops, through his own soldiering adventures, and up to his final vocation as a hermit alone on an island. Mike Mitchell's superb translation allows reade ...more
Paperback, 434 pages
Published February 15th 2006 by Dedalus (first published 1669)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraParadise Lost by John MiltonKing Lear by William Shakespeare
Best Books of the 17th Century
46th out of 118 books — 278 voters
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheThe Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaDie Räuber by Friedrich SchillerThe Trial by Franz Kafka
German Classics
45th out of 191 books — 78 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,044)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 17, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
This is one of the ancient books in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die that I really liked. Originally written in German and published in 1668 by German author Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1671-1676), the autobiographical book is considered as the first adventure novel in the German language and greatest German novel of the 17th century.

Its backdrop is the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) that was said to be the longest and the most destructive conflict in European history.
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I told myself I am not reading, at the moment, any modern novel with its difficult style, convoluted plots and abstruse language which make my eyes redder than they already are. It has to be an old book written during those less sophisticated times when writers just write to tell stories and entertain. So I got this, written sometime the middle of the 17th century, originally in German, by a guy with a long name, Hans Jacob Christoph Von Grimmelshausen, a writer whose biography was said to be as ...more
Sherwood Smith
Rereading this after many years is like encountering a massive rewrite. When I first struggled through it in German class, I knew the general facts of the Thirty Years War, but as usual, from the top--the various Kings, Battles, Generals, Princes and Prelates involved.

Grimmelshausen gives us a peasant's eye view of the war. One can see how German culture was being shaped by this disastrous war stretching out over a couple of generations. Simplicius's story begins with his ignorant childhood in t
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Miriam
Dec 15, 2009 Miriam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Miriam by: Elisabeth Gleason
Shelves: adventure
In this 17th century picaresque novel Von Grimmelshausen presents the horrors of war through the eyes of a rural simpleton, who witnesses all the cruelties and evils that humans can inflict on one another without understanding them. I don't remember whose translation I read, but it was certainly pre-1995. Mine had a pretty good vernacular style, which I think is important to the effect of the book, which is at once satirical, sad, humorous, and depressing.
Jan-Maat
A lad is given a set of bagpipes, and the way he plays them would kill a wolf (if it had musical taste), and is sent out to mind the sheep. In hindsight, the narrator thinks, wasn't this the best upbringing parents could give a child seeing as King David also started out in life as a shepherd?

So begin the adventures of Simplicissimus, an early novel set during the thirty years war which soon sweeps up the narrator and carries him into the conflict. Catholic or Protestant seem to be much the same
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Heidi Nemo
Needs some early modern German/30 Years' War historical context to be fun, but proof nevertheless that Candide is derivative, the road novel is an old genre, and that fart jokes hvae been funny for hundreds of years.
The Dr. Strangelove of its day.
There's an online version (of an old translation) here:
http://www.wm.edu/history/rbsche/grim...
Sandra
Still a wildly fascinating read. On the reread however, I found I got a lot more from this book than just the horror of war. I had already figured out different sides to the story after overthinking what happened in the story, but the reread helps you to confirm these thoughts. When you think about this book, you start recognizing the different voices that can be found in the book and you will have to reconsider the character of our Simpleton and the role of the narrative. The book is also surpr ...more
Deanne
Lots of life packed into one book. Simplicissimus spends his life in central europe being dragged into wars. He loses and finds parents, friends, children, wives etc. He gains and loses money so often it makes your head spin, and yet the narration is often stoical.
maven
Where to begin?...

In this book, we follow Simplicissimus, a rather simple man, as he travels throughout various parts of Europe (and other parts of the world), though not always by his own choice. Ongoing wars in Germany affect him in both good and bad ways throughout the book, as he alternates between fighting and avoiding fighting in various battles (and armies!).

The book isn't entirely about war though, and you get a glimpse at what life in 1600s Europe was like for all sorts of people there
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Sergei
Many, denouncing the corrupt world, used to retreat to the wilderness in the end of their life. Simplicius does that right in the beginning, while he is still a boy and is ignorant of the deeds of people. He doesn’t know even his own name, poor simpleton! He is adopted by a hermit who introduces him to Christian faith.

When the hermit dies Simplicius leaves the forest and tries hard to understand the world and people. He is conscripted into military service and goes through the trials of war tim
...more
Michel Boto
If you want a big fat novel and an opportunity to brush up on your 17th-century German (the illiterate farmboy part of his life is well-depicted with very thick dialect; and I loved the Latin-declined German like "dem Eigentō" and "5. Julii" as well as the -o suffix on adverbs, e.g. "jetzo" and "bishero", that have since disappeared from the language), this book is otherwise great. The sometimes graphic depiction of violence, use of toilet humor, whispers of religious skepticism and pointed crit ...more
Brian
A pretty good picaresque. My main problem was that about halfway through, the story began to drag. Simplicius was too good at everything on the first go, and his "downs" were never that bad. He got arrested, but because of his skill he is treated to wild banquets, or he's stuck in France, and he's fucking hellof ladies in secret chambers. His arrogance and complete lack of morals were also annoying. But all in all, a fun read from the period, with some great bathroom humor.
Steven Shinder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monty Milne
Fart jokes, hermits, cuckoldry, banditry, battle scenes, love scenes, Anabaptists and papists, and a journey to the centre of the earth in the company of water sprites...all wrapped up in immensely lengthy 17th century prose. Not to everyone's taste - but I loved it. Except that it was a bit tedious in parts, even for me.

I read Books I and II in George Schulz-Behrend's translation, which is in vivid 1960's American English, not entirely inappropriate when much of the narrative feels a bit like
...more
Jonfaith
My friends and I read CV Wedgwood's history of the Thirty Year War a few years back I noted that Dame Cicily cited this meandering picaresque a number of times. I read it off and on through a cold spring and felt that it would've benefitted from editing. There a rasher of episodes that claw up in my subconscious from time to time.
Perry Whitford
As the title implies, this is the tale of a simpleton, raised in isolation and ignorance in the remote Spessart region of Bavaria during the first half of the 17th century; then, when plundering soldiers torture and kill his family, catapulted into the big, bad world of continental Europe during the 'Thirty Years War'.

Simplicius escapes to be raised and taught by an aged, pious Hermit ('So I asked him, what be these things, "people" and "village"?') who teaches him three vital lessons of life be
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Heather
I read this for my Austro-German class my senior year of college. Out of all the boring ass books we read during that semester this was the only truly enjoyable one. A funny read with comments on society, etc. in between the hilarity.
Miriam
I'm marking this as read for the simple reason that I doubt I'll ever finish this book - and yet I think that having read three out of six parts of this qualifies as "read". (Seriously, try getting even that far ...)

It's not that this is a bad book, honestly - it's very funny and entertaining at times, and it certainly surprised me with its wit on a number of occasions. Also with how daring it is - there's this one scene which borders on being explicit, and I just think it's fascinating that it
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Sandra
The adventures of Simpleton, or Die abenteuerliche Simplicissimus, is seen as the first significant German novel. The story shows life as it was in the war between ‘Germany’ and Sweden. (Germany as such didn’t exist back in the day, think of it as the same construction we see in the USA nowadays, to keep things simple.)

Without a doubt, this war is one of the worst that Germany was involved in and possibly one of the worst that has ever taken place. I’d say that for Germany certainly this war was
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Jos
Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch written in 1668 is considered to be the first German novel of importance. It's inspired by the then popular Spanish picaresque novels and sets out to provide an all-encompassing view of life in Teutschland during the thirty-years war in short humorous episodes seen through the eyes of a seemingly simple mind called Simplicius Simplicissimus. This is what I expected.
What I wasn't expecting and surprised me as I didn't read about this before, is it's natur
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Jermain Foutre le Camp
Nur nicht mit der fürcherlichen Ausgabe von Reinhard Kaiser im Eichborn Verlag verwechseln! Zu dieser heißt es zwar: "Reinhard Kaiser hat das Wagnis unternommen, dieses erste große Volksbuch der Deutschen wieder unters Volk zu bringen: in einer Sprache, die uns nahe ist. Ihm ist das Kunststück geglückt, Rhythmus, Ton und Geist des ursprünglichen Textes, seine Tiefe und seinen übersprudelnden Witz wieder lebendig werden zu lassen." Doch Vorsicht, dem ist meines Verachtens überhaupt nicht so! Durc ...more
Nicole
The long and short of it is that Simplicissimus grows up during the 30 Years War in the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1648. He sees everything around him destroyed, repeatedly, and is forced to change sides, repeatedly, and basically do whatever it takes to survive. Before that sounds too utterly dismal, von Grimmelshausen has also made our protagonist a little less than average in intelligence, so he does not exactly understand what is happening around him. This leads to what some would co ...more
Jermain Foutre le Camp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brownguy
What a delightful take on the Thirty Year's War. Really works well as a historical text. Quite funny in the beginning but afterwards I was reading more to see where Simplex would end up. Apparently based on Grimmelshausen's life, if I were teaching a course on the late middle ages/early modern period this book would be indispensable
Carly
Ein wirklich guter Roman, der auch heute noch mit seiner Satire unterhält.

Allerdings würde ich die "abgeschwächtere" Version empfehlen, die ebenfalls sehr gut ist und einfach verständlicher für den "normalen" Leser.

Yarb
An amazing book. A picaresque study of futility, fidelity and the innocent abroad; a mournful account of the irredeemable brutishness of man entwined with a comic catalogue of his follies. Very few books articulate the bewilderment, the unanswerableness of war as well as this one does. And there are flights of fantasy which take you wholly by surprise.

I read a recent translation by Mike Mitchell which managed to modernise the language without occluding the temper of the time (although bizarrely
...more
Izumen
"Книгата е изключително забавна и поучителна. Не е изгубила нищо от чара си и дори Томасн Ман пише в преговора към шведския превод от 1944 г.: "С цялата си свежест романът е преживял почти три столетия и ще преживее още много". Какво по-голямо признание за непреходността на едно литературно произведение наистина?

Има ли смисъл изобщо да говоря за оформлението на Изток-Запад и рисунките на Peter Stanimirov (който днес има рожден ден, да му е честит!). Книгата е абсолютно съвършенство и гордост за
...more
Alan Eason
Wonderful translation of an epic German novel. One of the earliest "Road Books," it is delightful and thought-provoking. Dr. Osborne was one of my professors in grad school and his command of both German and English was phenomenal. Even if you are not that interested in German literature, I recommend that you read this book in this translation just to expand your appreciation of the English language. It flows unbelievably well. Dr. Osborne translates Grimmelshausen's wit and sense of irony into ...more
William Dearth
If you are a student of the picaresque genre of literature, you will certainly enjoy Simplicissimus. I would not put this on the same level with Cervante's "Don Quixote" or Lesage's "The Adventures of Gil Blas", but it is more interesting and valuable than most. There are many useful allegories and parables throughout. The final chapter in Book V is particularly powerful.

Maurice Halton
I gave it four stars because its supposed to be a German classic. Perhaps the narrative loses something in the translation, but I found it very difficult to absorb. The Thirty Years War was indeed a violent and savage time, but was it as unreal and Grimmelshausen portrays? My problem is that I don't believe that Melchior was that simple.
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Around the World ...: Chel recommends Simplicissimus 1 9 Feb 07, 2012 09:03PM  
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Grimmelshausen was born at Gelnhausen. At the age of ten he was kidnapped by Hessian soldiery, and in their midst tasted the adventures of military life in the Thirty Years' War. At its close, Grimmelshausen entered the service of Franz Egon von Fürstenberg, bishop in Straßburg and in 1665 was made Schultheiss (magistrate) at Renchen in Baden.

On obtaining this appointment, he devoted himself to li
...more
More about Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen...
Life of Courage Courasche / Springinsfeld / Wunderbarliches Vogelnest I und II / Rathstübel Plutonis La Pícara Coraje & Encuentro en Telgte Tearaway (Dedalus European Classics) Der keusche Joseph

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