FRIEDRICH WILHELM GOTTER (1746-1797), German poet and dramatist, was born on the 3rd of September 1746, at Gotha. After the completion of his university career at Göttingen, he was appointed second director of the Archive of his native town, and subsequently went to Wetzlar, the seat of the imperial law courts, as secretary to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha legation. In 1768 he returned to Gotha as tutor to two young noblemen, and here, together with H. C. Boie, he founded the famous Gottinger Musenalmanach. In 1770 he was once more in Wetzlar, where he belonged to Goethe's circle of acquaintances. Four years later he took up his permanent abode in Gotha, where he died on the 18th of March 1797. Gotter was the chief representative of French taste in the German literary life of his time. His own poetry is elegant and polished, and in great measure free from the trivialities of the Anacreontic lyric of the earlier generation of imitators of French literature; but he was lacking in the imaginative depth that characterizes the German poetic temperament. His plays, of which Merope (1774), an adaptation in admirable blank verse of the tragedies of Maffei and Voltaire, and Medea (1775), a melodrame, are best known, were mostly based on French originals and had considerable influence in counteracting the formlessness and irregularity of the Sturm and Drang drama.
Gotter's collected Gedichte appeared in 2 vols. in 1787 and 1788; a third volume (1802) contains his Literarischer Nachlass. See B. Litzmann, Schroder and Gotter (1887), and R. Schlosser, F. W. Gotter, sein Leben and seine Werke (1894).
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