Johann Nepomuk Cosmas Michael Denis - Encyclopedia




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JOHANN NEPOMUK COSMAS MICHAEL DENIS (1729-1800), Austrian poet, was born at Scharding on the Inn, on the 27th of September 1729. He was brought up by the Jesuits, entered their order, and in 1759 was appointed professor in the Theresianum in Vienna, a Jesuit college. In 1784, after the suppression of the college, he was made second custodian of the court library, and seven years later became chief librarian. He died on the 29th of September 1800. A warm admirer of Klopstock, he was one of the leading members of the group of so-called "bards"; and his original poetry, published under the title Die Lieder Sineds des Barden (1772), shows all the extravagances of the "bardic" movement. He is best remembered as the translator of Ossian (1768-1769; also published together with his own poems in 5 vols. as Ossians and Sineds Lieder, 1784). More important than either his original poetry or his translations were his efforts to familiarize the Austrians with the literature of North Germany; his Sammlung kiirzerer Gedichte aus den neuern Dichtern Deutschlands, 3 vols. (1762-1766), was in this respect invaluable. He has also left a number of bibliographical compilations, Grundriss der Bibliographic and Biicherkunde (1774), Grundriss der Literaturgeschichte (1776), Einleitung in die Biicherkunde (1777) and Wiens Buchdruckergeschichte bis 1560 (1782).

Ossians and Sineds Lieder have not been reprinted since 1791; but a selection of his poetry edited by R. Hamel will be found in vol. 48 (1884) of Kiirschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur. His Literarischer Nachlass was published by J. F. von Retzer in 1802 (2 vols.). See P. von Hofmann-Wellenhof, Michael Denis (1881).

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